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The Neuroscience Track provides broad research training in neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, neuroanatomy, molecular and cellular neuroscience, developmental neurobiology, and behavioral neuroscience. The Neuroscience Track is composed of 43 faculty from multiple departments at UTHSC and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital who are actively involved in neuroscience research, graduate student courses, seminars, guidance committees, and other functions necessary for the continued development of a graduate program.

Basic and clinical Neuroscience research at UTHSC and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital focuses on intracellular signaling pathways, neuronal excitability, synaptic transmission, sensory processing, retinal biology, neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, brain tumors, neurogenetics and neural development, and mental and addictive disorders. Techniques in use include genetics and molecular biology, bioinformatics, optical imaging and neurophysiology, functional MRI, neuropharmacology and neurochemistry, neuroanatomy, and behavior.


Department of Anatomy and NeurobiologyNeuroscience Institute


Max Fletcher
Neuroscience Track Director
Biomedical Sciences Program
University of Tennessee Health Science Center
404 Wittenborg Building
Memphis, TN 38163
Phone: 901.448.2212

Program Resources


Students in the Neuroscience Track complete their core curriculum by taking Functional Neuroanatomy, any 2 of the 3 Neuroscience courses listed below and a statistics course. Students will choose at least 6 credit hours of additional elective courses that suit the individual student's needs. Any course required by other IBS tracks is acceptable as an elective. Other graduate level courses can be used to satisfy the elective requirement upon approval from the track director.

Seminar - Students must take at least 4 semesters of Neuroscience Seminar with Special Topics. Special Topics includes a discussion of a publication by the seminar speaker followed by a meeting with the seminar speaker. After this students must either take Neuroscience Seminar without Special Topics or attend at least one seminar course or journal club suited to their research topic.

Symposium - All neuroscience students must take Neuroscience Symposium in the Spring term of each year. Students may opt not to take this course if they are defending their dissertation that semester.

Teaching - Students are expected to assist with teaching in Medical Neuroanatomy lab at least one term. The total time commitment in lab is 15 hours for one term. Students may opt for additional teaching experience by volunteering for more than one term. Students should take Functional Neuroanatomy before completing this requirement.

Required Curriculum

Core courses

  • Functional Neuroanatomy (3)
  • Any 2 of the 3 courses below (6):
    • Cellular Neuroscience (3)
    • Behavioral Neuroscience (3)
    • Developmental and Molecular Neurobiology (3)

Additional requirements

  • Statistics (2)
  • Neuroscience Seminar (1) - every semester
  • Special Topics (1) - first four semesters
  • Neuroscience Symposium (1) - every Spring semester

Elective courses

  • any additional 6 credit hours (not including seminar/symposium type classes)

Laboratory Rotations

Students are required to do three lab rotations with IBS program faculty. These rotations can occur during any of the six prescribed rotational periods during the first year. After three rotations a student may begin work in their chosen mentor's lab or may elect to do more rotations. A mentor's lab must be identified by the end of the first year.

Admission-to-Candidacy Exam

At the end of their second year students must pass a qualifying exam before admission to Ph.D. candidacy. For the exam students write a grant application in the form of an NIH F31, National Research Service Award (NRSA) that is not on a topic directly related to their Ph.D research. As part of the examination the student gives an oral presentation and defense of the application to their graduate committee. Students are expected to demonstrate mastery of the required Neuroscience coursework.

Thesis Proposal

By the end of their third year students write a second NIH F31 grant application based on their ongoing and proposed Ph.D. research. This proposal is discussed with a student's graduate committee before approval to continue research.

Sample curriculum

Year 1

Fall Semester

  • Functional Neuroanatomy
  • Essentials of Cell Biology
  • Neuroscience Seminar
  • Special Topics
  • Two 6 week lab rotations

Spring Semester

  • Cellular Neuroscience
  • Statistics
  • Neuroscience Seminar
  • Special Topics
  • Neuroscience Symposium
  • Integrity in the Conduct of Scientific Research
  • One 6 week lab rotation

End of Spring Semester/Summer

  • Choose Mentor and begin research
  • Take admission to candidacy exam

Year 2

Fall Semester

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience Seminar
  • Special Topics
  • Independent Research

Spring Semester

  • Developmental and Molecular Neurobiology
  • Neuroscience Seminar
  • Special Topics
  • Neuroscience Symposium

End of Spring Semester/Summer

  • Choose Mentor and begin research
  • Take admission to candidacy exam

Year 3

  • Dissertation Research
  • Neuroscience Seminar - each term
  • Neuroscience Symposium - Spring term
  • 15 total hours of teaching assistance in Medical Neuroanatomy Lab
  • Complete and defend thesis proposal

Year 4 and Beyond

  • Dissertation Research
  • Neuroscience Seminar - each term
  • Neuroscience Symposium - Spring term
  • Students defend their dissertation before their faculty committee to complete the requirements for the Ph.D. degree.
Student Directory
Year Student Mentor
Year 1 (20-21)

Ben Geier
Taylor Hedgecock
Mia Fox
Yusuke Ujihara
Walt Krueger
Mallory Udell

Detlef Heck
Il Hwan Kim
Larry Reiter
Hao Chen

Year 2 (19-20) Braden, Anneliesse Shalini Narayana
Year 3 (18-19) Chapman, Ian
Correia, Brittany
Devlin, Patrick
Raymond, Martin
Max Fletcher
Detlef Heck
Ansley Stanfill
Max Fletcher
Year 4 (17-18) Vacant  
Year 5 (16-17) Somerville, Leah
Su, Wei
Victor, Kaitlyn
Weesner, Jason
Yang, Zemin
Jack Tsao
Hongbo Chi
Larry Reiter
Alessandra D'Azzo
J. Paul Taylor
How to Apply

You can apply via our online application. Most students apply before December, and those applying before December 1 will be given priority status. The final application deadline is March 1. Applications are reviewed as received, and our top domestic candidates are supported for travel to campus for interviews beginning in January.

It is important that you complete the application and send all required materials as soon as possible. You can apply online, and it is free and easy. Most of the options on the Application Checklist are self-explanatory, but under Planned Course of Study, choose the Biomedical Sciences-PhD option. Then, select up to three tracks of interest using the drop down menus associated with the concentration options. We will assume that the first concentration you select is your preferred research track.

General requirements are a bachelor's degree with a grade-point average of at least 3.0 from an accredited college or university, previous research experience, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. The GRE is optional. For students whose native language is not English, a score of at least 79 on the TOEFL or 6.5 on the IELTS is required.

US Applicants

For US applicants, official transcripts and official test scores should be sent directly from the contributing source and not by the student. Three recommendation letters are required. Names and contact information of three referees will be entered on the application and the system will contact them with instruction on how to submit their recommendation.

Non-US Applicants

For non-US applicants, official test scores should be sent directly from the contributing source and not by the student. Official transcripts and three recommendation letters are required.

Transcripts from any non-US institution must be verified and certified to generate a grade point average (GPA) based on a 4.0 scale. Verification must be completed before matriculation. Service agencies include, but are not limited to, Educational Credit Evaluation (ECE) and World Education Services (WES). A document-by-document certification is not acceptable. These agencies charge a fee for their service.

Oct 31, 2023