The Program in Neurobiology trains future leaders in neuroscience in the rich variety of approaches and model systems for exploring fundamental questions of the nervous system. Of the three neuroscience programs in the Neuroscience Cluster – Neurobiology, Computational Neuroscience, and Integrative Neuroscience – Neurobiology is the longest-established and offers the greatest diversity of research experiences. Over 60 faculty members are distributed across 13 departments and many areas of expertise, ranging from genetic, developmental, molecular and cellular neurobiology to systems neurophysiology, behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, computation and imaging. Many Neurobiology Program faculty also participate in other graduate programs and Neurobiology Program students are also embedded in larger scientific communities. Cross-disciplinary interactions are enhanced by the compact UChicago campus, where all labs are within easy walking distance.
In September of their first year, students are introduced to graduate students in the wider Biological Sciences Division at a Quantitative Boot Camp at UChicago’s affiliated institution, the Marine Biological Laboratory on Cape Cod. They also meet the entire Neuroscience community at a fun and intense overnight Neuro Cluster retreat in September. First-year students in the Neuro Cluster take core classes in cellular, systems and behavioral neuroscience together. There are over 75 students in the cluster across all years.
Neurobiology Program students rotate through two or three laboratories before choosing one for their thesis work near the end of the first year. About a year later, they qualify for PhD candidacy by presenting and defending a thesis proposal. Most of the remaining time is devoted to thesis research, although students also take electives and can take training in teaching or other professional skills. The average time to PhD is 5-6 years. Since its inception in 1979, the Program in Neurobiology has awarded over 140 PhD degrees.