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The Neuroscience Program

The Neuroscience Graduate Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) promotes interdisciplinary training that crosses traditional departmental boundaries and offers a rigorous foundation in the core concepts of neuroscience. Ongoing research in the program employs a wide array of techniques and includes multiple levels of investigation, ranging from genes, molecules, and cells to neural networks, systems, and behavior. We welcome attendance and participation of all interested GSBS faculty, students and other trainees at our retreat, seminars and other program activities.


Current Student Spotlight!

External Fellowships 

Melissa French, F31 (Mentor: Dragoi)
Kyla Gibney, F31 (Mentor: Versace)
Janelle Korf, AHA (Mentors: Ganesh and McCullough)
Shun-Ming Ting, AHA (Mentor: Aronowski)
Cana Quave, F31 (Mentor: Do Monte)
Rachel van Drunen, F31 (Mentors: Mahan and Tong)
Alexis Mobley, F31 (Mentors: Aronowski and McCullough)
Sam Debes, F31 (Mentor: Dragoi)
Pedram Honarpisheh, F31 (Mentor: McCullough)
Russel Milton, F31 (Mentor: Dragoi)

2020-2021 First Arthur Publications  

Jing Cai, Ryan M. Cassidy, Jessie Morrill, Qingchun Tong (in press). Neurotransmitter Co-transmission in Brain Control of Feeding and Body Weight. Book chapter in Neural signaling. Brain Metabolism 2021

Emily F. Mendez, Haichao Wei, Ruifeng Hu, Laura Stertz, Gabriel R. Fries, Xizi Wu, Katherine E. Najera, Michael D. Monterey, Christie M. Lincoln, Joo-won Kim, Karla Moriel, Thomas D. Meyer, Sudhakar Selvaraj, Antonio L. Teixeira, Zhongming Zhao, Junqian Xu, Jiaqian Wu & Consuelo Walss-Bass Angiogenic gene networks are dysregulated in opioid use disorder: evidence from multi-omics and imaging of postmortem human brain. Molecular Psychiatry Journal 2021

Cana Quave, Nieto, S. J., Haile, C. N., Kosten, T. A. Immune receptor Toll-like receptor 4 contributes to stress-induced affective responses in a sex-specific manner. Brain, Behavior, & Immunity - Health, 14 2021

Russell Milton, Shahidi N, Dragoi V. Dynamic states of population activity in prefrontal cortical networks of freely-moving macaque. Nature Communications. 2020.

Shun-Ming Ting, Zhao X, Sun G, Obertas L, Ricote M, Aronowski J. Brain Cleanup as a Potential Target for Poststroke Recovery: The Role of RXR (Retinoic X Receptor) in Phagocytes. Stroke 2020

Shun-Ming Ting, Zhao X, Zheng X, Aronowski J. J Cereb. Excitatory pathway engaging glutamate, calcineurin, and NFAT upregulates IL-4 in ischemic neurons to polarize microglia. Blood Flow Metab 2020

Alumni Spotlight

Tara Fischer

NIH/NINDS, Washington, DC


Dissertation Research (Pramod Dash, PhD): Investigating the role of mitochondrial fission in hippocampal pathology and associated learning and memory deficits in rodent models of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Postdoctoral Research (Richard J. Youle, PhD):
 Current research focuses on understanding how defects in the selective degradation of mitochondria (mitophagy) due to mutations in PINK1 or PRKN lead to cell death, inflammation, and progressive neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s Disease. Specifically, I am investigating the basic molecular machinery underlying quality control at the mitochondrial membranes and the degradation of intramitochondrial components, such as mtDNA, that may act as cytosolic signaling factors for activating innate immune pathways due to defects in in mitophagy.

To view the rest of our Neuroscience Alumni, click here


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For more information about the Neuroscience Program, please contact

Program Director
Qingchun Tong, PhD
(713) 500-3453

Program Co-Director 
Kartik Venkatachalam, PhD 
(713) 500-7504

Program Manager
Amanda Williamson
MSB 7.262, (713) 500-5193