Admission into the Vanderbilt Brain Institute’s Neuroscience Graduate Program


Two neuroscience tracks are offered within the Vanderbilt Brain Institute’s Neuroscience Graduate Program. The Cellular & Molecular track stresses genetic, molecular and cellular approaches to understanding brain function and disease, while the Cognitive & Systems track emphasizes neural systems and global brain function.

The Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience path provides doctoral training with emphasis on neurogenetics and genetic dissection of neural development, molecular aspects of synapse formation and plasticity, structure and regulation of ion channels and transporters, targeting and signal transduction, psychotropic drug action, the molecular basis of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, and targeted gene disruption in transgenic animals to ascertain the function of neural genes and establish disease models.

Students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in the Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience track may enter through one of these admissions programs:

    1. Students with educational backgrounds in biology and/or chemistry may apply to enter the Neuroscience department through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP).
    The IGP is an interdepartmental program encompassing 11 graduate programs. IGP students take the fall foundational course described above followed by individually tailored, specialized modules and electives in the spring semester. Students rotate through four laboratories during the first academic year to identify a thesis project and mentor. Rotation choices provide the flexibility to sample laboratories in 4 different fields or conduct all 4 within the same discipline.

    2. Students with educational backgrounds in the quantitative sciences such as chemistry, physics, mathematics or computer sciences may apply to enter the Neuroscience department through the Quantitative & Chemical Biology Program (QCB).
    QCB is a multidisciplinary program introducing elements of biology to students with backgrounds in the quantitative sciences wishing to pursue a doctoral degree at the interface of the chemical, physical, and biological sciences. The curriculum prepares students for research careers in chemical biology, imaging sciences, molecular and cellular biophysics, or structural biology. Previous didactic training in the biological sciences is not required for entry into the QCB program.

    3. The majority of candidates seeking training in the Biomedical Sciences at Vanderbilt will find the IGP or QCB programs ideal for developing skills needed for lifelong, evolving research careers. However, if the descriptions of the IGP and QCB programs do not fit your immediate training or long term career goals, please contact Dr. Michelle Grundy (michelle.grundy@vanderbilt.edu or 615-343-2573) to discuss how Vanderbilt can meet your needs for graduate education.

Students interested in pursuing an M.D./Ph.D. in this area may seek entry into the department through the Medical Scientist Training Program

The Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience path provides doctoral training with emphasis on cognitive neuroscience, sensory-motor systems, neuroimaging, neural development, synaptic plasticity, neurobiological basis of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, and targeted gene disruption in transgenic animals to ascertain the function of neural genes and establish disease models.

Students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in the Cognitive and Systems Track should apply directly to the Neuroscience department.