Neuroscience PhD Program

Neuroscience uses tools from a wide variety of disciplines—psychology, anatomy, electrophysiology, molecular biology, medicine, pharmacology and biochemistry—to provide needed scientific breakthroughs for the millions of people affected by neurologic illnesses.

The PhD in Neuroscience program includes research training areas reflecting GW faculty expertise, which includes neural development, sensory processing behavior, neurodevelopmental disorders, fetal and pre-term brain injury and PTSD. Research in these areas is carried out at the basic and clinical levels, employing cutting-edge techniques, including neuronal tracing and imaging to visualize the cellular and molecular organization of the brain; electrophysiology, chemogenetics and optogenetics to understand circuit dynamics. Faculty are drawn from the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, including scientists from Children’s National Hospital. The DC Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Center (IDDRC) offers core facilities, seminars and events available to graduate students.

The PhD in Neuroscience begins with the interdisciplinary coursework in molecular, cellular, and systems biology and research rotations offered through GW’s Integrated Biomedical Sciences curriculum. In the second and third semester students add a comprehensive introduction to the conceptual and experimental underpinnings of neuroscience. Further electives, career development coursework in scientific writing, oral communication, and research ethics and laboratory rotations are provided. Following required laboratory rotations, students complete a grant-style qualifier and then work with their research advisor and the Graduate Program Directors to complete remaining Neuroscience degree requirements, including the research dissertation.

PhD programs in the biomedical sciences are designed to meet key goals in contemporary graduate research education including 1) discipline-specific knowledge, 2) research skill development, 3) research communication skills, 4) research leadership, 5) research professionalism, and prepare graduates for a variety of science careers.

Neuroscience Courses:

NRSC 8283: Current Topics in Neuroscience

NRSC 8284: Conceptual and Experimental Neuroscience

PHAR 8281 Molecular Pharmacology & Neurobiology of Excitable Tissues

NRSC 8998: Advanced Reading and Research

Some Suggested Electives:

ANAT 6160: Clinically Oriented Human Neuroanatomy

ANAT 6130: Clinically Oriented Human Embryology

ANAT 6182: Fundamentals of Regenerative Biology and Systems Physiology

Courses in genomics, bioinformatics, immunology and pharmacology are also available

Seminars/Journal Clubs:

Seminars from visiting scientists are held mid-day Thursdays at locations alternating between GW and CNH.

Examples of Recent Neuroscience PhD Dissertations:

Kristy Ortega Johnson (2021) “Activity-Dependent Mechanisms of Visual Map Formation & Alignment”. Mentor Jason Triplett. Diversity supplement, IBRO Travel award, Bouchet Honor Society (Now Project Manager, Vigene Biosciences)

Jiaqi J. O’Reilly (2020) “Placental Neurosteroid Disruption in Preterm Birth: Impact on GABAergic Signaling in the Somatosensory Cortex”. Mentor Anna Penn/ Irene Zohn. F31 award (Now postdoctoral researcher, Columbia University, NY)

Graduate Program Directors:

Matthew T Colonnese, PhD

Department. of Pharmacology & Physiology

Ross Hall

George Washington University

School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Jason Triplett, PhD

Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Children’s National Research Institute

George Washington University

How to apply to the IBS and Neuroscience PhD program

For IBS Application Questions contact Colleen Kennedy (, IBS Program Manager