Skip to Content

nav = neuroscience


The Neuroscience Program

he Neuroscience Graduate Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Houston 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. Our goal is to cultivate the development of leaders in neuroscience research. 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. Our faculty's research interests range from molecular & cellular neuroscience, systems neuroscience, computational neuroscience, cancer neuroscience, and translational neuroscience, which focuses on neurological diseases such as brain tumors, neurodegeneration, aging and psychiatric disorders. Unique to the neuroscience program is the option of fast track, which allows those students with strong interest in Neuroscience to bypass the GSBS Foundation course. We welcome attendance and participation of all interested GSBS faculty, students and other trainees at our retreat, seminars and other program activities.

Faculty Seeking Students 2022-2023

Faculty Seeking Students Image


Vasanthi Jayaraman, PhD

Jayaraman receives grant to study glutamate receptors involved in memory, other neurological processes

A five-year, nearly $3.5 million grant to study the mechanisms of brain receptors involved in neurological disorders such as learning disabilities has been awarded to Vasanthi Jayaraman, PhD, by the National...
December 26, 2022
Read More
Dee S. and Patricia Osborne Endowed Scholarship in the Neurosciences

Dee S. and Patricia Osborne Endowed Scholarship in the Neurosciences

Congratulations to the 2022 recipients of the Dee S. and Patricia Osborne Endowed Scholarship in the Neurosciences:  First Place ( $1000): Xu Zhang Second Place ($600): Melissa Franch Third Place ...
December 22, 2022
Read More
Four GSBS faculty members receive more than $2 million in CPRIT funding

Four GSBS faculty members receive more than $2 million in CPRIT funding

Research from Graduate School faculty members Christopher Alvarez-Breckenridge, MD, PhD; Jian Hu, PhD; Anirban Maitra, MBBS; and Helen Piwnica-Worms, PhD, was awarded funding from the Cancer Prevention...
October 5, 2022
Read More
Photo of Dr. Anthony Wright

GSBS faculty member Wright named professor emeritus at McGovern Medical School

MD Anderson UTHealth Houston Graduate School faculty member Anthony A. Wright, PhD, has been appointed as professor emeritus at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston. He was recognized by the Department...
September 12, 2022
Read More
Research from Valentin Dragoi, PhD; and Natasha Kharas, MD, PhD, may lead to a better understanding of neural communications.

Novel discovery reported in PNAS helps understanding of neural communication

Graduate School alumna Natasha Kharas, MD, PhD, is the first author of a paper reporting a novel discovery on how neurons emit signals across cortical circuits, that has been published in the Proceedings...
August 8, 2022
Read More

Current Student Spotlight!

External Fellowships 

Eyad Shihabeddin, F31 (Mentor: O'Brien) 
Melissa Franch, 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)

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


Neuroscience Social Media

Neuron for the Contact Us column

contact us

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