Neuroscience PhD Program

Neuroscience uses tools from a wide variety of disciplines—psychology, anatomy, electrophysiology, molecular biology, medicine, pharmacology and biochemistry—to provide needed scientific breakthroughs for the millions of people affected by neurologic illnesses.

The PhD in Neuroscience program includes research training areas reflecting GW faculty expertise, which includes neural development, sensory processing, behavior, neurodevelopmental disorders, fetal and pre-term brain injury, drug addiction and PTSD. Research in these areas is carried out at the basic, pre-clinical and clinical levels, employing cutting-edge techniques, such as: histology, neuronal tracing, and imaging to visualize the cellular and molecular organization of the brain; electrophysiology, pharmacology, chemogenetics and optogenetics to understand circuit dynamics; comparative anatomy and genomics to understand brain evolution; and functional fMRI to evaluate human cognition. Faculty are drawn largely from the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, including scientists from Children’s Research Institute at Children's National Health System. The GW Institute for Neuroscientists serves as a nexus for neuroscientists, with a Neuroscience seminar series hosting pre-eminent neuroscientists, and annual Neuroscience Symposium.

The PhD in Neuroscience begins with interdisciplinary coursework in molecular, cellular, and systems biology in the first semester. In the second and third semester students take a comprehensive introduction to the conceptual and experimental underpinnings of neuroscience. Career development coursework in scientific writing, oral communication, and research ethics; and laboratory rotations offered through GW’s Institute for Biomedical Sciences curriculum. Following required laboratory rotations, students work with their research advisor and the Graduate Program Directors to complete remaining Neuroscience degree requirements, including the dissertation.

PhD programs in the biomedical sciences are designed to meet key goals in contemporary graduate research education including 1) discipline-specific knowledge, 2) research skill development, 3) research communication skills, 4) research leadership, 5) research professionalism, and prepare graduates for a variety of science careers. To apply, please visit IBS Admissions.

IBS Core:
BMSC 8210: Genes to Cells
BMSC 8212: Systems Physiology
BMSC 8230: Molecular Basis of Human Disease
BMSC 8215: Laboratory Rotations (3)
BMSC 8216: Career Skills: Scientific Writing and Speaking
BMSC 8217: Career Skills: Ethics and Grantsmanship

One or more Foundation Course(s):
Basic Science of Cancer Biology
Infection and Immunity
Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics
Neural Cells and Circuits
Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine
BMSC 8219: Career Skills: Biomedical Science Careers
BMSC 8235: Applied Biostatistics for Basic Research
Complete grant-style qualifier examination, advance to candidacy

Neuroscience Core:
NRSC 8283Current Topics in Neuroscience
NRSC 8284Conceptual and Experimental Neuroscience 
NRSC 8285Foundation of Experimental Neuroscience II 
NRSC 8998: Advanced Reading and Research

Some Suggested Electives:
ANAT 6160: Clinically Oriented Human Neuroanatomy
ANAT 6130: Clinically Oriented Human Embryology
ANAT 6182: Fundamentals of Regenerative Biology and Systems Physiology
Courses in genomics, bioinformatics, immunology and pharmacology are also available

Seminars/Journal Clubs:
NRSC 8999: Dissertation Research
Seminars from visiting scientists are held Thursdays at 4PM, at locations alternating between GW and CHHS and the GW Institute for Neurosciences annual symposium is held in April each year.

Graduate Program Directors:

Matthew T Colonnese, PhD
Department. of Pharmacology & Physiology
GWU; Ross Hall

Jason Triplett, PhD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Children’s National Health System, GWU

How to apply to the IBS and Neuroscience PhD program
For IBS Application Questions contact Colleen Kennedy, IBS Program Manager


“Demystifying Graduate School: Navigating a PhD in Neuroscience and Beyond” Linda K. McLoon and A. David Redish J. Undergraduate Neuroscience Education (JUNE) 2018 A203-A209.