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Neuroscience

Neuroscience

Ph.D. Program

[View Image]Fostering collaboration and creativitythe Neuroscience Ph.D. program at VCU is an opportunity for students to explore a broad range of disciplines related to neuroscience.  

Our uniquely interdepartmental, integrated curriculum provides students with a core of knowledge of the basic structure and function of the central nervous system while allowing flexibility in choosing their advisors, electives and specialized areas of research.  

Students function as independent research investigators after completing their required didactics, and upon graduation will be equipped to conduct independent research and teach in the neuroscience disciplines at a university or academic health center.

A Message from our Director

VCUSOM Message from the Chair [View Image]

A Message from our Director

The strength of VCU’s interdisciplinary Neuroscience Ph.D. program lies in its flexibility. We encourage students to explore a multitude of fields relating to neuroscience and ultimately pursue research that sparks their interest within any of our participating departments. Ph.D. candidates have the unique opportunity to interact and collaborate with peers and educators across nearly a dozen departments within the School of Medicine, facilitating both academic and social opportunities that enhance their overall learning experience here at VCU.   

The program has had a strong focus on head trauma, drugs of abuse and glial cell biology, and our dedicated faculty and students take pride in shaping the future of neuroscience research.    

John Bigbee, Ph.D.

Research

We encourage our students to explore a variety of neuroscience research areas before committing to a mentor and a research laboratory. Research groups include: 

 

  • Drug abuse and mental illness 
  • Glial cell biology 
  • Injury, repair and degeneration 
  • Plasticity and development 
  • Channels, receptors and transporters 
Learn more about our research groups

[View Image]Students enter doctoral training via the Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal, which allows them to remain uncommitted to a department or program until transitioning at the end of the first year of study. Students may choose to concentrate in neuroscience from the beginning or select the doctoral program in neuroscience after exploring opportunities in other departments and programs.

Candidacy exams occur in two parts, typically after the second year for Ph.D. students and the first graduate year for those on the M.D./Ph.D. track. Students should complete both parts by the end of their third-year fall semester, and M.D./Ph.D. students should complete both parts by their second graduate year.

Part One
Students write a mini-review paper and defend it before their graduate advisory committee.

Part Two
In consultation with their advisors, students prepare an NIH-style grant proposal and oral defense before their graduate advisory committee. We strongly encourage students to submit their proposals for extramural funding, such as NIH predoctoral fellowships, when appropriate.

 

 

Aaron Barbour [View Image]

Aaron Barbour

Aaron Barbour [View Image]

Aaron Barbour

Neuroscience

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Maria Bent [View Image]

Maria Bent

Maria Bent [View Image]

Maria Bent

Neuroscience

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Yu Tzu (Rita) Chen [View Image]

Yu Tzu (Rita) Chen

Yu Tzu (Rita) Chen [View Image]

Yu Tzu (Rita) Chen

Neuroscience

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Elizabeth Dustin [View Image]

Elizabeth Dustin

Elizabeth Dustin [View Image]

Elizabeth Dustin

Neuroscience

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Nicole Ekanem [View Image]

Nicole Ekanem

Nicole Ekanem [View Image]

Nicole Ekanem

Neuroscience

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Kelly Flounlacker [View Image]

Kelly Flounlacker

Kelly Flounlacker [View Image]

Kelly Flounlacker

Neuroscience

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Alan Harris [View Image]

Alan Harris

Alan Harris [View Image]

Alan Harris

Neuroscience

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Martina Hernandez [View Image]

Martina Hernandez

Martina Hernandez [View Image]

Martina Hernandez

Neuroscience

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Elizabeth Leggett [View Image]

Elizabeth Leggett

Elizabeth Leggett [View Image]

Elizabeth Leggett

Neuroscience

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Michael Marone [View Image]

Michael Marone

Michael Marone [View Image]

Michael Marone

Neuroscience

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Nima Nassehi [View Image]

Nima Nassehi

Nima Nassehi [View Image]

Nima Nassehi

Neuroscience

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Vishal Patel [View Image]

Vishal Patel

Vishal Patel [View Image]

Vishal Patel

Neuroscience

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Justin Saunders [View Image]

Justin Saunders

Justin Saunders [View Image]

Justin Saunders

Neuroscience

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Samantha Spencer [View Image]

Samantha Spencer

Samantha Spencer [View Image]

Samantha Spencer

Neuroscience

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Gladys Shaw [View Image]

Gladys Shaw

Gladys Shaw [View Image]

Gladys Shaw

Neuroscience

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Elizabeth Thomason [View Image]

Elizabeth Thomason

Elizabeth Thomason [View Image]

Elizabeth Thomason

Neuroscience

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Rudy Toneatti [View Image]

Rudy Toneatti

Rudy Toneatti [View Image]

Rudy Toneatti

Neuroscience

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Nicole Weston [View Image]

Nicole Weston

Nicole Weston [View Image]

Nicole Weston

Neuroscience

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Rory Weston [View Image]

Rory Weston

Rory Weston [View Image]

Rory Weston

Neuroscience

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Life in Richmond

Urban life with a small-town feel

We encourage our graduate students to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and Richmond is a wonderful place to engage in that well-rounded lifestyle. As the capital of Virginia since 1779, Richmond attracts students, faculty and staff from around the globe. The city’s location affords easy day trips to destinations like Washington, DC, Virginia Beach, Colonial Williamsburg and the Blue Ridge Mountains, among others.

As a mid-sized city with a metropolitan population of 1.3 million, Richmond provides stimulating activities while maintaining its intimate feel and unique vibe. Vibrant neighborhoods offer distinct, diverse experiences, with no shortage of art galleries, museums, music venues, restaurants, breweries and parks. For the outdoor enthusiast, you can’t beat the offerings in the city’s riverfront parks and urban wilderness areas such as white-water rafting, hiking, mountain biking and festivals.Learn more about our community

The Neuroscience Ph.D. program typically admits five to seven students per year, with financial support including a living stipend plus tuition and fees for the duration of their training 

The application is available through the Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal. If you have any questions about the program or application requirements, please contact:

Contact Us

John Bigbee, Ph.D.

Neuroscience Graduate Program Director

Neuroscience Program Director

Email: john.bigbee@vcuhealth.org

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