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  • Travel Awards
  • Leadership

    Program Director
    Kartik Venkatachalam (2026)

    Program Co-Director
    Rodrigo Morales (2026)

    Steering Committee

    Kartik Venkatachalam  (2026)
    Rodrigo Morales (2026)
    Michael Beierlein (2026)
    Andrea Stavoe (2025)
    Michael Galko (2025)
    Patrick Dougherty (2024)
    Harel Shouval (2024)
    Michael Zhu (2024)
    Chrystine Gallegos (student member)
    Amanda Solbach (student member)

    Curriculum Committee
    Ruth Heidelberger
    Harel Shouval
    Venugopal Reddy Venna (2026)
    Giselli Scaini (2026)
    Sheng Zhang (2026)
    Amanda Solbach (student member)
    Alexandra McConnell (student member)

    Admissions Committee
    Akihiko Urayama
    Wei Cao
    Anjali Chauhan
    Gab Seok Kim
    Rodrigo Morales
    Kartik Venkatachalam
    Sheng Zhang

    Qualifying Exam Committee
    Sheng Zhang (Chair, 2027) – Molecular & Cellular, Translational
    Fabricio Do Monte (2026) – Systems & Cognitive
    Kristin Eckel-Mahan (2026) – Molecular & Cellular
    Gabriel Fries (2026) - Molecular & Cellular, Translational
    Qingchun Tong (2027) – Systems & Cognitive

    Student Work in Progress Workshop
    Rodrigo Morales

    G&E and Neuroscience Art Showcase Committee
    Madison Shyer
    Qingying Jiang
    Kiersten Scott
    Sumayyah Khan
    Mya Rodriguez
    Paula Bender
    Dr. Gab Seok Kim
    Dr. Sean Marrelli
    Amanda Williamson


    Student Council
    Vicky Chuong
    Dounya Jalloul
    Bridgitte Palacios
    Mekenzie Peshoff
    Madison Shyer

  • Bylaws


    The Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP) is part of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS). The NGP is a multidisciplinary educational effort involving the faculty and facilities of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The purpose of this program is to educate students who wish to pursue neuroscience research through the MS, PhD and MD/PhD programs at the GSBS. Multidisciplinary approaches are employed to understand aspects of nervous system structure and function, and consequently, the program is highly interdisciplinary. Program faculty share a primary obligation to equip students with knowledge and skills required for the pursuit of active and meaningful careers that utilize the scientific method.


      1. There is a Program Director (PD) elected by the Program faculty who serves a three-year term with a start date of July 1 (7/1-6/30). The PD will have final responsibility for Program leadership and final authority for decisions regarding Program activities and direction. There will also be a Co-Director (CD) elected by the faculty, with a start date and term coincident with that of the PD. The CD will assist the PD in administration of Program functions and provide advice on decisions regarding Program activities and direction. The CD will have authority to make Program decisions in the PD’s absence.. GSBS will solicit (self-)nominations for faculty to serve as either PD or CD. Candidates for PD should have served on the Steering Committee or as CD within the last five years. Department Chairs and associate faculty members are not eligible to serve as PD or CD. By simple majority vote, the NGP faculty will elect the incoming PD and CD, who will begin service on 7/1. If for any reason the PD or CD does not complete their term, a special election will be held to replace them. GSBS will run the elections of PD and CD in accordance with GSBS guidelines.

      2. There is a Steering Committee composed of the PD, CD, and at least three Program faculty and two Program student members. The Steering Committee is charged with providing leadership and advice to the PD and CD. The Steering Committee will meet as required by program business, but at least twice per year. The PD will chair Steering Committee meetings. Faculty members of the Steering Committee will serve staggered three-year terms with a possibility of re-appointment upon re-election. The Program Manager will solicit (self-)nominations for faculty to serve on the Steering Committee. Faculty members are selected by a vote of the NGP faculty based on the number of votes received, with a goal of balanced representation from contributing departments and institutions. Department Chairs are not eligible to serve on the steering committee. . Student nominees should be in good academic standing to serve on the committee. The Program Manager will carry out the faculty and student elections in accordance with GSBS guidelines.

      3. There is a Curriculum Committee that is charged with providing advice to the program regarding curricular matters. The Committee is composed of the Directors of the program core courses, three additional Program faculty and two post-candidacy students. The non-course director members of the Curriculum Committee are selected by the PD in consultation with the Steering committee, with the aim of attaining a balanced representation from contributing departments and institutions. The PD serves as the Chair of the Curriculum Committee. The three additional non-course director faculty members will serve on the Curriculum Committee for terms of three years with a possibility of re-appointment. The student members will serve a one year term.

      4. There is a Candidacy Exam Committee composed of a Chair and at least four additional faculty that represent the different Program areas that is charged with administering the candidacy exam to all program students. A faculty member outside the program must be part of each exam committee and will be chosen by the Chair in consultation with other committee members as needed. The Exam Committee is selected by the PD in consultation with the current Chair of the Exam Committee. Faculty will serve on the Exam Committee for a term of three years with a possibility of re-appointment.

      5. There is a Student Council composed of five Program students (at least one of whom must be post-candidacy) that are charged with providing leadership to program students including organizing the student retreats, social activities, new student orientation, and acting as liaisons between the students and Program faculty. The Student Council is selected by a call for student interest. If more than five students show interest, names are drawn. Students will serve on the student council for a term of one year with a possibility of re-appointment for an additional year


    The goal of the NGP is to provide rigorous training and to foster scientific interactions between students and faculty. These goals require enthusiastic program faculty who are dedicated to graduate student education and have vigorous and well-funded research programs. NGP Faculty members must be members of the GSBS. Membership categories will match those of GSBS: Regular, Associate and Distinguished Senior Lecturer as determined by the GSBS Membership Committee.

    NGP Program faculty will:

    • Participate in the formulation of Program
    • Train and mentor NGP
    • Serve on student committees
    • Direct or teach Program courses
    • Attend thesis defenses of program students, the annual retreat and program seminars.

    Applications for membership in the NGP are submitted to the Program Director. Applications should include the applicant’s CV and a letter stating the applicant’s reasons for requesting to join the Program. This letter should indicate what the applicant expects to gain from being a Program faculty and what the applicant can contribute to the Program. Applications are reviewed by the NGP Steering Committee. Criteria for membership include, but are not limited to:

    • Scientific
    • Active and funded research projects in an area relevant to the NGP
    • A willingness to participate in Program activities and assume the responsibilities of Program faculty as outlined

    Faculty who apply for Program membership but are denied may appeal the decision to the GSBS Membership Committee, who will make a recommendation to the Deans.

    The NGP will notify GSBS Faculty Affairs of all new faculty members.

    Review of Current Members

    The NGP will review contributions and activities of individual faculty members once every five years in conjunction with the faculty member’s five-year review by the GSBS Membership Committee. To renew membership, faculty members must have demonstrated significant participation in NGP-specific activities over the evaluation period. Faculty participation reports will be provided by GSBS. If necessary, faculty members will be asked to augment these reports with previously unreported statements of NGP-specific activities. Note that each member (not the NGP Program) is responsible for tracking their own contributions/participation.

    The PD may discuss ways to improve participation with any faculty members who are marginally involved with the activities of the NGP. In addition, the Program will send GSBS a list of faculty who are deemed inactive. Inactive faculty will be notified that they are on probation for one additional year. At the end of this period, if there is no significant increase in activity, the Program may terminate membership. Faculty who are asked to leave the NGP or who apply for Program membership in later years but are denied may appeal the decision to the GSBS Membership Committee, who will make a recommendation to the Deans. 


    Students wishing to claim affiliation with the NGP must satisfy the entrance requirements of the GSBS for the MS, PhD, or MD/PhD degree, matriculate, and affiliate with a laboratory as well as with the Program.


    Amendments to these Bylaws require a 2/3 majority of the voting program faculty for the amendment to pass. Voting is conducted via program faculty meetings or electronic mail ballot.

    Any member of the NGP faculty may propose amendments to the bylaws by submitting the proposed amendment to the PD. Amendments will be circulated to the faculty via electronic mail. Voting on any proposed amendment will take place no earlier than three weeks and no later than six weeks following its submission to the PD.