Neuroscience Graduate Group Training Grants and Programs


Pre Candidacy ExamArtist: Greg Dunn

Systems & Integrative Biology (SIB) Training Grant
Supported by NIGMS: T32-GM07517

Support from this Training Grant is limited by the NIGMS to Graduate Years 1 and 2. It provides support for 12 NGG Students per year. In a given year, approximately half of the Trainees are 1st year NGG Students and half are 2nd year NGG Students. Appointments are made by the SIB Executive Committee between April 15 and June 30, prior to the arrival of the new Trainees. Appointments are made on the basis of prior academic and research excellence and stated area of interest.
PI: Joshua I. Gold.


Post Candidacy Exam

Complex Scene Perception Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT)
Supported by the National Science Foundation

This Training Program connects perception and robotics to investigate questions such as: How do humans recognize objects in natural scenes? How do we build a car that drives itself? Can we create a search engine that recognizes visual objects in images? Graduate traineeships are available to qualified applicants to cover tuition costs and to provide stipends of up to $30,000 per year for five years of graduate training leading to a Ph.D. in a relevant discipline.
PI: Kostas Daniilidis


Training in Neurovirology

Viral infections of the central nervous system (CNS) differ from infections of other organs in that the CNS is somewhat isolated from the periphery by the blood brain barrier and this results in different host responses to infection. The University of Pennsylvania has a long history of research in neurovirology, organized originally by Dr. Neal Nathanson, one of the pioneers of neurovirology, in the late 1970's. A training grant in Neurovirology has funded postdocs and predocs trainees at Penn for the last thirty years.
PI: Susan Weiss


Training Program in Genetics
Supported by TG-GENE, T32 GM008216

This training grant provides support to students in years three through five (dissertation level) whose dissertation research is directed towards basic genetic mechanisms. The research areas of the training faculty include: Genetics of various model organisms and viruses, human genetics, cancer genetics, population genetics and gene regulation and epigenetics. Training activities of the grant include: participation in the weekly Genetics Research-in-Progress seminar series (informal talks by post-docs and students), quarterly meetings of trainees with a small group of faculty, participation in the "Frontiers of Genetics" seminar series (student-run speaker series), and retreats. Standard appointment length is two years.

New trainees are selected each March by a competitive process. An email announcement soliciting applications will be sent to all BGS students and T32 trainers. Applications must include the student’s CV, a 1-page description of their research project, and letters of recommendation from the thesis advisor and two other faculty members. The relevant graduate group office provides the students’ academic records, including laboratory rotation evaluations. For a nominee to be considered for a position, they must be conducting research in one of the Genetics training areas listed above and their academic record should include Genetics coursework (e.g. CAMB550/Genetic Principles and one or more Genetics seminars) that demonstrates their commitment to Genetics research. All T32 trainees must be U.S. citizens or green card holders. Also note that this training grant will not support any students who have previously been supported by the SIB training grant (see above).
PI: Meera Sundaram


Training in Sleep and Sleep Disorders
Supported by T32 HL07953

MD/PhD Program: Integration of medical and graduate education is emphasized from the outset. At any given time a trainee may spend most of his or her time in medical school or graduate school, but at all times there are courses or other experiences organized by the program that emphasize the integration of the two parts of the training. Students typically start the program with the first two years of medical school, but take graduate courses and do lab rotations at the same time. In the Fall of the first year they take Topics in Molecular Medicine, a seminar course run by the combined degree program. In the Spring of the first year, students either take a graduate course or do an independent study with the faculty member with whom they will do a lab rotation in the Summer between year 1 and year 2. In the Fall of the 2nd year they take Case Studies in Translational Research (CSTR), a course that is also organized and run by the combined degree program and open to PhD as well as MD/PhD and VMD/PhD students. Our trainees then focus on graduate studies, but get to experience the life of a physician-scientist through the Clinical Connections program.

Neuroscience Graduate Program: This component of our program will be based on existing structures within the Neuroscience Graduate Group. The program will involve a mixture of required courses, elective courses, laboratory rotations and mentored research. We envisage that for a Neuroscience Graduate student this will be a 4-5 year program. The curriculum is designed for breadth (core courses), depth (laboratory rotations) and the development of real expertise in a selected area of Neuroscience (the thesis). In addition, since most students will ultimately assume academic positions, students are required to teach for one semester in their third year of the program. During the first two years of the program, students divide their time between course work and laboratory rotations. After successfully completing a preliminary exam, students devote themselves to full-time research on a problem whose solution will constitute a significant contribution to some area of Neuroscience. The PhD in Neuroscience is awarded when the resulting thesis is successfully defended before the faculty.

In addition to formal coursework, the Neuroscience Curriculum includes several opportunities for students to learn how to read scientific papers, present research talks on both published research and their own research, and how to write a formal research proposal. Laboratory rotations provide research level exposure to selected areas of Neuroscience and complement the more survey nature of course work. Each rotation extends for one semester. Students are required to complete a minimum of three laboratory rotations by the end of their second year.

Course Offerings in Neuroscience Training Program: There is a three-tiered system of course offerings in Neuroscience. First, every student is required to take four core courses: Cell Biology (BIOM 600), The Electrical Language of Cells (INSC 572), Systems Neuroscience (INSC 573), and seminar-related Journal Club (INSC 577). Each of these courses is 1 credit unit and students are expected to maintain 4 credits/semester. The first two courses run concurrently in the Fall semester, while the latter two courses are given every Spring semester. Second, there are a set of yearly course offerings that delve deeper into the major subdivisions of Neuroscience. Trainees in our program will be expected to take the course in Neurobiology of Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Recently, faculty at Penn have developed courses to introduce our students to translational research—the Neurobiology of Disease program. One of these courses is Neurobiology of Sleep and Sleep Disorders.

Application instructions: Applicants should provide a letter of interest, resume and 3 letters of recommendation to:

PI: Allan Pack


Vision Training Grant
Supported by NEI

The Vision Training Grant supports vision-related graduate education at Penn, including pre-doctoral training positions and sponsorship of a weekly Vision Seminar Series and an NEI institutional clinician-scientist career development award for junior faculty.
PI: Diego Contreras


Training in Age-Related Neurodegenerative Diseases
Supported by NIH/NIA AG00255

This program mentors and educates young investigators to conduct research in age-related neurodegenerative diseases with a goal of supporting trainees as they develop into independent investigators in studies on the etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, frontotemporal dementias, motor neuron disease and related disorders.

The trainees are: (a) pre-doctoral Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students who will be pursuing thesis research in age-related neurodegenerative diseases; (b) Scientists, physicians or veterinarians who have completed a Ph.D., M.D., D.V.M., M.D.-Ph.D. or D.V.M.-Ph.D. and wish to pursue a postdoctoral research fellowship in age related neurodegenerative diseases. Trainees are given a solid background in basic and translational neuroscience as well as related disciplines in preparation for a career in research on neurodegenerative diseases as an independent investigator.

This is a NIA research training program that provides training and experience with many diverse techniques, methods and approaches to investigate basic and translational questions on age-related neurodegenerative diseases in the setting of a research intense academic medical center and university with a highly interactive group of trainers. Notably, Penn has an extensive didactic program in the neurosciences, pharmacology and other basic and translational disciplines focused on aging and the nervous system that can be individually tailored to the needs of each trainee as a supplement to the core research training provide by CNDR and the trainers in this T32.

Each trainee will undertake an independent project that will provide experience in the design and analysis of their experiments, and in the presentation and publication of the results they obtain from their studies. Other than weekly journal club, students, postdocs and staff members attend biweekly focus group meetings and present their work in informal lab meetings. The annual CNDR Retreat (The Marian S. Ware Research Retreat) provides trainees with opportunities to hone their skills in making scientific presentations in a public but highly supportive scientific forum at Penn. Pre-doctoral students are enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Neuroscience, Pharmacological Sciences, Cell and Molecular Biology, or Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and they progress through a thorough graduate level program prior to undertaking a thesis project.

Interested candidates should send curriculum vitae and three letters of reference to:

Kevin Davies
Administrative Coordinator
Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
3 Maloney
3600 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 662-4474

PI: Virginia Lee


Training Program in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience
Supported by NIH

Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience at Penn encompasses a wide range of questions and methods, all of which are unified by a common goal: To understand the neural basis of human and animal behavior. Training in this area is supported by an NIH training grant in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience.
PI: Joe Kable


Training Program in Neuropsychopharmacology

The Neuropsychopharmacology Training Program is a postdoctoral and predoctoral training program that provides interdisciplinary training in areas related to the biological basis and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. In addition to advanced research training in outstanding laboratories, Ph.D. postdoctoral trainees develop a greater sensitivity to the importance of clinical care issues by exposure to medical conferences, physician trainees, and patients (through structured clinical rotations). M.D. postdoctoral trainees are provided with laboratory-based research experience for building research careers in academic medicine. All of the trainees receive didactic exposure to different fields through our Colloquia Series and specialty clubs, formalized courses, research retreats, training in research ethics, and training in occupational hazards.
PI: Irwin Lucki


Training Program in Developmental Biology
Supported by NIH: T32HD083185

Developmental biology is entering a period of extraordinary discovery and research in this field will have a broad impact on the biomedical sciences in the next century. Developmental Biology is interdisciplinary and involves the application of techniques and concepts from genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, embryology and biochemistry to attack and understand complex developmental mechanisms in plants and animals, from fertilization to aging. Many of the same genes that regulate developmental processes underlie human regulatory gene disorders such as cancer and serve as the genetic basis of common human birth defects. An understanding of fundamental mechanisms of development is providing a basis for the design of gene and cellular therapies for the treatment of many human diseases.
Co-PIs:Michael Granato & Jonathan Raper


Training Grant in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
Supported by NINDS: T32NS007413

The Training Program in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities was established in 1998 and has been continuously supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The focus of the program is on understanding intellectual and developmental disabilities caused by chromosomal defects, inborn errors of metabolism (aminoacidurias, urea cycle defects, etc.) or hypoxia and trauma (perinatal insult, traumatic brain injury, etc.). Individuals supported by the program pursue full-time research training. This includes planning, executing, and publishing primary research. This experimental training is complemented with an educational program of selected didactic courses and an individualized clinical practicum. In addition, trainees interact with internationally renowned scientists who come to present their research at lectures sponsored by the institutionalIntellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC).

For more information, please contact the Program Administrator, Kristen Hearty.

PI: Michael Robinson



Brain Injury Training Grant (BITG)
Supported by NINDS: T32-NS043126

The Brain Injury Training Grant is designed to recruit and train individuals at the post-doctoral level (MD or PhD) with exceptional promise for research careers in CNS injury. A secondary aim is to provide short-term exposure (three-month summer slots) for pre-doctoral students to the field of CNS injury research to recruit the best individuals to pursue a research career in this arena. These pre-doctoral students come from both PhD programs and medical school. Contact the department grants coordinator (Sharon Robinson) for application instructions.
PI: Doug Smith