Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Clinical Neuroscience Training Program

Research Opportunities

CNST students may participate in neuroscience research throughout their medical school career. The greatest research opportunities occur in the summer between the first and second years of medical school and in the 12- to 24-week period of "Scholarly Pursuit" during the final 18 months of the medical school curriculum. The CNST serves as a conduit for the wealth of research opportunities at Penn by providing CNST students with information on faculty research programs, as well as funding sources for stipend support. CNST mentors also can provide guidance for CNST students to participate in clinical shadowing experiences starting in the first year.

Click here for the Application Announcement for Summer Research 2022
Deadline: Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Previous CNST Summer Research

If you are interested in CNST Summer Research, you are welcome to contact previous CNST Summer Research students for their guidance.


Hasan Ahmad — 
Project Title:  "Discriminating Motor Intention and Movement Through Differential Periodic and Aperiodic Contributions to Beta Desynchronization "
Mentor: Timothy Lucas Jr, MD, PhD, MHCI — Neurosurgery

Antonio Corral-Tarbay —
Project Title: "Amino Acid-targeted Fluorescent Dye for Improved Image-guided Glioma Resection"
Mentors: John Lee, MD / Stefan Harmsen, PhD — Neurosurgery / Radiology

Evan Iliakis —
Project Title:  "Impact of Nrxn1α Mutation on Motor Patterns and Striatal Projection Neuronal Activity in Mice"
Mentor: Marc Fuccillo, MD, PhD — Neuroscience

Kiran Raja —
Project Title: "Does Motor Imagery Priming Improve Learning Rate on a Robot-based Motor Execution Task?"
Mentors: Michelle Johnson, PhD — Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation


Lillian Chien —
Project Title:  "Computational modeling of sensitivity to somatosensory thalamic and cortical microstimulation"
Mentor: Andrew G. Richardson, PhD — Neurosurgery

Elizabeth "Ellie" Sell —
Project Title: "Microbial Metabolite Succinate Activates Tuft Cells in the Sinonasal Epithelium "
Mentors: Noam A. Cohen, MD, PhD — Otorhinolaryngology


Austin Borja —
Project Title:  "Correlating 18F-NaF Uptake in the Carotid Arteries with Global 18F-FDG Uptake in Normal Controls and Patients with Cardiovascular Risk Factors"
Mentor: Abass Alavi, MD, PhD, DSc — Radiology

Timothy Cox —
Project Title: "Pharmacological Targeting of α-Synuclein Signaling in Parkinson’s Disease"
Mentors: Virginia M-Y Lee, PhD and Farés Bassil, PhD — Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research

Grace NG —
Project Title: "Modeling the Spread of Tau Pathology Using Anatomical Connectivity and Genetic Expression Data"
Mentor: Danielle S. Bassett, PhD — Bioengineering

Clare Teng —
Project Title: "Image-Guided Resection and Local Treatment with ICG-and Photosensitizer-Coated SPION (IPS)Nanoclusters for Glioblastomas"
Mentor: John YK Lee, MD, MSCE — Neurosurgery


Phillip Bradshaw — 
Project Title: "Semantic Coherence in Adjective-Noun Pairs in Patients with Semantic VariantPrimary Progressive Aphasia"
Mentor: Murray Grossman, MD, EDD — Neurology

Mitchell Johnson —
Project Title: "Evaluation of current surgical indications for cervical instability in Down Syndromepatients"
Mentor: Patrick J. Cahill, MD — Orthopaedic Surgery

Neil Luu —
Project Title: "Identification of Cholinergic Chemosensory Cells in Sinonasal Epithelial Cells"
Mentor: Noam A. Cohen, MD, PhD — Otorhinolaryngology

Elana Meer —
Project Title: "Evaluation of Improvements in Visual Field Defects after Hemispherectomies"
Mentor: Stacy L. Pineles, MD — Ophthalmology 


Lillian Chan —
Project Title: "Primary Open-angle Glaucome Genotype-Phenotype Study"
Mentor: Joan O’Brien — Ophthalmology, University of Penn/Scheie Eye

Caroline Chung —     
Project Title: "Analyzing Genetic Risk in Non-amnestic Variants of Alzheimer's Disease"
Mentor: Murray Grossman — Neurology, University of Penn

Christine Farrell —                 
Project Title: "An Analysis of CSF Studies and Conditions Associated with Oligoclonal Bands and their Implications for Guiding Further Diagnostics and Treatment"
Mentor:  Christopher Perrone (PGY3 Resident) — Neurology, University of Penn

Natalie Neale —         
Project Title: "An Investigation of Cognitive Decline and Neurodegeneration in Down's Syndrome"  
Mentor: Shahid Zaman — Psychiatry, University of Cambridge [England]         

Philip Williams —      
Project Title: "Elucidating the Role of Iron Dysregulation in Age-related Macular Degeneration using Single-cell Transcriptomic Analysis of Ferroportin Knockout Mice"
Mentor:  Joshua Dunaief — Ophthalmology, University of Penn  


Savannah Aepli —
Project Title: "ICU Patient and Family Experiences of Recovery After Injury"
Mentor: Meghan Lane-Fall, MD, MSHP, Anesthesiology & Critical Care

Prateek Agarwal —
Project Title: "Injectable Hydrogel for Intervertebral Disc Regeneration in a Goat Animal Model"
Mentor: Neil R. Malhotra, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, Department of Neurosurgery

Nadir Bilici —
Project Title: "Human Cortical Organoid Transplant into V2 Cortex of the Rat"
Mentor: Han-Chiao Isaac Chen, MD, Neurosurgery

Steve Cho —
Project Title: "Targeting Folate Receptors to Visualize Pituitary Adenomas"
Mentor: John Y.K. Lee, MD, MSCE, Neurosurgery

Makayla McCoskey —
Project Title: "Association between Cognitive Impairment and Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma Using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment"
Mentors: Victoria Addis, MD and Joan O'Brien, MD - Department of Ophthalmology

Mark Morales —
Project Title: "Measures and Predictors of Varenicline Adherence in the Treatment of Nicotine Dependence"
Mentor: Robert Schnoll, MD, Department of Psychiatry

Peter Schwab —
Project Title: "Intraoperative Cortical Stimulation and DTI Tractography"
Mentors: Dr. Ragini Verma, Radiology and Dr. Timothy Lucas, Neurosurgery


Christine Bierema — Graduated
Project Title: "Change in Level of JC Virus Antibodies as a Result of Natalizumab (and other therapies) in Multiple Sclerosis Patients Over Time"
Mentor: Eric Williamson — Neurology, University of Penn

Yohannes Ghenbot — Graduated
Project Title: "PennBMBI: A Neuroprosthetic for Unilateral Facial Paralysis"
Mentor: Timothy Lucas — Neurosurgery, University of Penn

Christopher Corbett — Graduated
Project Title: "Developing Automated Segmentation of Periventricular Leukomalacia in MRIs of Neonates with Severe Congenital Heart Defects"
Mentor:  Sudha Kessler — Pediatric Neurology, CHOP

David Lerner — Graduated
Project Title: "Structural Changes of Mitochondria in Presence of Soluble Amyloid-beta"
Mentor: Dara Dickstein — Neuroscience, Mt. Sinai Icahn SOM 

Charles Santos — Graduated
Project Title: "Modulation of Ggamma Ocillations to Remediate the Cognitive Deficits of Schizophrenia"
Mentor:  Bruce Turetsky, MD — Psychiatry, University of Penn

Sharon Cimarron — Graduated
Project Title: "Quartered Point Scoring System for Periventricular Leukomalacia in Children with Congenital Heart Disease"
Mentor: Daniel Licht — Pediatric Neurology, CHOP


Student:  Michael Chua — Graduated
Project Title: “Socioeconomic and Genetic Risk Factors for Primary Open Angle Glaucoma in Philadelphia African Americans”
Mentor:  Joan O’Brien, MD – Professor of Ophthalmology

Student:  Peter Nogueira Hadar — Graduated
Project Title:  “Use of Novel GluCEST Neuroimaging Technique in Lateralizing Foci in TLE Patients”
Mentor:  Kathryn Adamiak Davis, MD – Assistant Professor of Neurology

Student:  Lauren Miller — Graduated
Project Title:  “Intentional Partial Coiling of Plex Intracranial Anerurysms: Long Term Radiographic and Clinical Outcomes”
Mentor:  Michelle Smith, MD – Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery

Student:  John Peters — Graduated
Project Title:  “Exploring the Pathogenesis of Multiple System Atrophy”
Mentor:  John Trojanowski, MD, PhD  - Professor Geriatric Medicine & Gerontology

Student:  Alan Workman — Graduated
Project Title:  “CALHM1-Mediated ATP Release and CBF Modulation in Airway Epithelial Cells”
Mentor:  Noam Cohen, MD, PhD – Associate Professor of Otorhinolaryngology

Student:  Yingcheng (Elaine) Xu — Graduated
Project Title:  “Influences of Short-Term Light Deprivation on Trigeminal Sensory Thresholds”
Mentor:  Richard L. Doty, PhD – Professor of Otorhinolaryngology


Student:  Keisha Dodman — Graduated
Project Title: “Remediating Long-Term Effects of Ketamine Exposure in Mice”
Mentor:  Steven J. Siegel, MD, PhD – Professor of Psychiatry

Student:  William Kennedy — Graduated
Project Title:  “Assessment of Olfactory Function in Pediatric Patients with Chronic Tracheostomy”
Mentor:  Steven E. Sobol, MD – Associate Professor of Otolaryngology CHOP

Student:  Eric Lin — Graduated
Project Title: “Effects of Alpha-synuclein Immunotherapy in a Mouse Model of Parkinson’s Disease"
Mentor: Virginia M.-Y. Lee, PhD, MBA  - Professor in Alzheimer’s Research Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

Student:  Catherine Norise — Graduated
Project Title: “Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Elucidates Mechanisms of Recovery from Non-fluent Aphasia”
Mentor:  Roy Hamilton, MD, MS – Assistant Professor of Neurology

Student:  Andrew Olsen — Graduated
Project Title: “Use of Topical Vancomycin Powder Prophylaxis in Craniotomy: A Retrospective Review of X Cases”
Mentor: Timothy H. Lucas, Jr., MD, PhD – Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery

Student:  Stephen Tsaur — Graduated
Project Title:  "Response Inhibition and Smoking Urges in Smoking Cessation Study”
Mentor:  Becky Ashare, PhD – Research Assistant Professor of Psychiatry