UCLA Neuroscience Program Ph.D. Admissions Neuroscience Faculty UCLA and Beyond

Program and Faculty

What characterizes the educational program of the IDP?
The goal of the program is to train students to be conversant in all levels of analysis in neuroscience, from the molecular and cellular to systems, behavior, translation, and disease, while specializing in their chosen field of research.

How large is the Program?
Currently, the IDP comprises 80 doctoral students. On average, 15 new students enter the program every year.

Who are the faculty in the IDP?
All UCLA faculty with an active research program in neuroscience can be members of the IDP. The faculty belong to many departments in the School of Medicine, College of Letters & Sciences, School of Engineering, School of Nursing and School of Dentistry. For details on individual faculty click here.

What areas of neuroscience are represented in the IDP?
The IDP has great breadth and includes distinguished faculty in many areas of neuroscience. Several areas are represented by large groups of faculty with common interests who closely interact with each other in a collaborative manner. A number of these clusters of faculty are represented as an area of specialty within the IDP which we call a Focused Area of Research (FAR). The FARs presently available in the IDP are Addiction; Learning & Memory; Neural Development, Degeneration & Repair; Neurogenetics; Neuroimaging/Cognitive; and Synapses, Cells & Circuits. The curricula for each FAR are generally similar and consist of two or more courses and at least two journal clubs.

The following is a brief description of each of the current FARs:

ADDICTION
          
UCLA is internationally recognized for excellence in Addiction research, which represents a multidisciplinary and translational area of neuroscience research at UCLA.  Research spans the fundamental bases of addiction from the genome to neural phenotypes and ultimately the syndrome. Ongoing programs focus on a variety of addictive disorders that include drug abuse (psychostimulants, opioids, alcohol and nicotine) and other addictions, and are supported within several NIH funded centers and training programs. The programs are particularly strong in molecular and cellular neurobiology, brain imaging, and behavioral neuroscience. Students in the Addiction FAR will join a highly interactive community where they will have the opportunity to participate in a number of seminars and courses.
Participating Faculty:
Anne Andrews
Arthur Brody
A
ndrew Dean
Chris Evans
Michael Fanselow
Adriana Galvan
David Jentsch
David Krantz
Edythe London
Nigel Maidment
Richard Olsen
Robert Pechnick

Lara Ray
Igor Spigelman
Paul Thompson
Kate Wassum
Cui-Wei (Tracy) Xie
William Yang

LEARNING AND MEMORY
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The goal of learning and memory research is to understand how we allocate, acquire, retain, and retrieve information. By its very nature, this research is integrative and cross-disciplinary, incorporating molecular, cell biological, systems and behavioral level approaches to study synapses, neurons, circuits, brains and behavior. UCLA is internationally recognized for the excellence of its research in learning and memory. Together, its outstanding faculty cover molecular to systems approaches to the study of memory, working in model systems ranging from Aplysia to mouse to humans. Students in the Learning and Memory FAR will become part of this interactive and energetic community with organized, well-attended scientific activities, including a long-standing weekly Learning and Memory Journal Club, an annual Southern California Learning and Memory Symposium, and a myriad of other events that highlight the strengths of this community. Additional new courses are being developed to further enrich the training opportunities.
Participating Faculty:
Carrie Bearden
Tad Blair
Aaron Blaisdell
Susan Bookheimer
Dean Buonomano
Chris Colwell
Michael Fanselow
Itzhak Fried
Joaquin Fuster
David Glanzman
Peyman Golshani
Karen Gylys
Keith Holyoak
David Jentsch
Barbara Knowlton
Frank Krasne
Kelsey Martin
John Mazziotta
Mayank Mehta
Tom Minor
Istvan Mody
Tom O'Dell
Tom Otis
Jesse Rissman
Felix Schweizer
Alcino Silva
Gary Small
Joshua Trachtenberg
Kate Wassum
Joseph Watson
Stephanie White
Cui-Wei (Tracy) Xie


NEURAL DEVELOPMENT, DEGENERATION, AND REPAIR
          
Neurological diseases and injuries are among the most debilitating medical conditions affecting millions of people each year. Few effective treatments for these disorders currently exist, in part because we know very little about the mechanisms underlying these conditions and how to prevent or repair neural damage. The Neural Development, Degeneration, and Repair FAR seeks to tackle this problem by providing training in three main areas: 1) Elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms that establish neural circuitry during embryonic and postnatal development, 2) Exploring mechanisms of aging and neurodegeneration caused by injury or diseases, and 3) Exploring ways in which neural tissue damage can be prevented or repaired. The Neural Development, Degeneration, and Repair FAR will draw upon the broad expertise at UCLA in the areas of stem cell differentiation, neural development, neurodegenerative diseases, plasticity and restoration of function after injury to the central nervous system. The faculty associated with the FAR includes basic and clinical scientists, many of whom bridge the gap between the laboratory and advances in therapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s, as well as brain and spinal cord injuries. The Neural Development, Degeneration, and Repair FAR curriculum includes training in broad areas of cellular, molecular and system neuroscience, completed with specialized courses in Neural Development, Degeneration, and Repair, a weekly journal club focused on the current literature, weekly presentations by trainees and faculty, and seminars from renowned investigators in the field. Students are encouraged to explore areas at the junction of multiple fields, to use multiple technical approaches, and to engage in collaborations between laboratories. The Neural Development, Degeneration, and Repair FAR also will build upon the success of their NIH-sponsored Training Program in Neural Repair. The goal is to train a cadre of young investigators that are fully prepared for the changing culture of science while retaining a solid background in their main area of expertise.
Participating Faculty:
Douglas Black
Jeff Bronstein
Tom Carmichael
Ellen Carpenter
Marie-Francoise Chesselet
Giovanni Coppola
Jean deVellis
Reggie Edgerton
Guoping Fan
Itzhak Fried
Daniel Geschwind
David Glanzman
Ming Guo
Neil Harris
David Hovda
Baljit Khakh
Harley Kornblum
David Krantz
Michael Levine
Linda Liau
Jake Lusis
Nigel Maidment
Kelsey Martin
Mayank Mehta
Paul Mischel
Istvan Mody
Ben Novitch
Diane Papazian
Patty Phelps
Carlos Portera-Cailliau
Alvaro Sagasti
Michael Sofroniew
Yi Sun
David Teplow
Joshua Trachtenberg
Rhonda Voskuhl
Jim Waschek
William Yang
Larry Zipursky


NEUROGENETICS
       
Neurogenetics brings to bear the powerful tools of modern genetics and genomics to some of the most important and fascinating problems in all of biomedical sciences. UCLA is widely recognized as one of the leading centers of neurogenetics research. The breadth of the neurogenetics research program is extraordinary, ranging from investigations of invertebrate model systems within single laboratories to trans-disciplinary collaborative programs focused on complex human phenotypes, in the Consortium for Neuropsychiatric Phenomics. The Neurogenetics FAR is built around a well-established training structure and NIH-funded joint predoctoral and postdoctoral training programs in Neurobehavioral Genetics. These training programs exemplify the signature focus of the FAR; using genetics to integrate “neuro” and “behavioral” approaches to neuroscience investigation, with a particular emphasis on phenotyping of the nervous system-across systems from flies to humans-as a distinct scientific endeavor. Current faculty within the NIH-funded training programs represent a wide diversity of research interests and provide a broad range of opportunities for students. There is already an enormous level of interaction between faculty in the program, and this is enhanced by a yearly retreat, bi-monthly seminar series and a flexible core curriculum tailored to individual student backgrounds.
Participating Faculty:
Carrie Bearden
Robert Bilder
Susan Bookheimer
Giovanni Coppola
Mirella Dapretto
Guoping Fan
Nelson Freimer
Daniel Geschwind
Ming Guo
David Jentsch
David Krantz
Sandra Loo
Kelsey Martin
Roel Ophoff
Carlos Portera-Cailliau
Alvaro Sagasti
Alcino Silva
Des Smith
Paul Thompson
Eric Vilain
Stephanie White
Roger Woods
William Yang
Larry Zipursky

NEUROIMAGING/COGNITIVE
         
The Neuroimaging/Cognitive FAR is designed for students pursuing a professional career in neuroimaging, either in clinical practice or in neuroscience research. The multidisciplinary approach provides training in both basic science and technological principles of modern neuroimaging methods, and in their application to the understanding of neurological function and neurological disorders. The Neuroimaging/Cognitive FAR is comprised of a set of selected core and elective courses designed to provide students with a firm grounding in the theoretical, conceptual, and practical issues involved in studying the human and non-human brain using neuroimaging methods - from the molecular to whole brain human imaging. Core courses allow students to gain an understanding of the physiological principles underlying the types of imaging modalities commonly used to examine micro- and macro- brain structure and function as well as psychologically induced changes in physiological signals. The FAR includes research design and data analysis. Participants will obtain hands-on experience with data acquisition, processing, statistical analysis, and visualization through the use of leading edge graphical workflow environments and image processing software packages. Core courses emphasize the consideration of brain structure and function using modern medical imaging (e.g. MRI, PET, OIS, etc) and related neural recording techniques (e.g. EEG).  Across these intensive courses, students will gain a full appreciation of the various cognitive factors that influence patterns of brain activation measured with functional imaging methods (e.g. BOLD, fMRI and PET) as well as becoming familiar with the effects of disease on brain anatomy and integrity. Students will gain exposure to neural tissue imaging methods (e.g. light, confocal, molecular, and related microscopy approaches), their application, and comparative strengths and limitations. At the completion of the Neuroimaging FAR, it is expected that participants will be fully prepared to critique, design, and participate in conducting research studies using a variety of neuroimaging methods; appreciate potentials and limitations of current neuroimaging methods and techniques; better understand the broad range of expertise required in a brain imaging research program; and be positioned well for careers in neuroimaging laboratory research.
Participating Faculty:
Jeffrey Alger
Lori Altshuler
Jorge Barrio
Carrie Bearden
Robert Bilder
Susan Bookheimer
Mark Cohen
Magnus Dahlbom
Mirella Dapretto
Jamie Feusner
Adriana Galvan
Michael Green
Keith Holyoak  
Marco Iacoboni
Shafali Jeste
Barbara Knowlton
Edythe London
James McCracken
Katherine Narr
Ladan Shams
David Shattuck
Nancy Sicotte
Paul Thompson
Arthur Toga
Nim Tottenham
Jack Van Horn
Allan Wu
Alan Yuille
Eran Zaidel

SYNAPSES, CELLS, AND CIRCUITS
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The Synapses, Cells, and Circuits FAR focuses on how the nervous system works by linking physiological mechanisms at the synaptic, cellular and circuit levels. Ultimately these efforts seek to understand in detail how synaptic function and plasticity, properties intrinsic to individual neurons, and microcircuit function converge to process information in different brain areas. Over the past decades neuroscience has elucidated basic principles underlying neuronal excitability and synaptic function. There also is increasingly accurate specification of the brain regions involved in particular behaviors through neuroimaging. However, due to technical challenges, relatively little research links these critical physiological levels. Bridging this gap will require the next generation of scientists to have expertise in neuronal cell biology, synaptic physiology, genetic approaches, and modern optical techniques. Given the breadth of neuroscience expertise at UCLA, this FAR is ideally positioned to lead research and training in this field.
Participating Faculty:
Michelle Basso
James Bisley
Tad Blair
Nicholas Brecha

Dean Buonomano
Chris Colwell
Lars Dreier
Jerome Engel
 
Reggie Edgerton
Jack Feldman
Mark Frye
David Glanzman 
Peyman Golshani
Baljit Khakh
David Krantz
Michael Levine
Kelsey Martin
Sotiris Masmanidis
Mayank Mehta
Paul Micevych
 
Istvan Mody
Ben Novitch
Tom O’Dell
Tom Otis
 
Diane Papazian
Carlos Portera-Cailliau
Dario Ringach
  
Alvaro Sagasti
Felix Schweizer
Alcino Silva 
Catia Sternini
Josh Trachtenberg
Stephanie White
Larry Zipursky


Where can I find more details
and apply to the
IDP?
Please visit the pages for our program curriculum and admission procedures.  

Additional Faculty Information
Please note that some investigators conduct research that span several areas and that many faculty are not listed in the FARS because they work in other areas of neuroscience. Please consult the alphabetical listing for more details and a complete list of IDP faculty.