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Neuroscience Track

Advances in technology allow us to see and study the brain like never before, providing a panoramic view of the inner workings of the mind and how it works. By understanding the basis of learning, memory and other fundamental brain functions, researchers are at the cusp of a major paradigm shift in the way we treat, cure and even prevent nervous system disorders.

The Neuroscience Track within the Ph.D. Program at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Science brings together nearly 60 basic neuroscientists and clinician-scientists as faculty — each of whom have wide-ranging expertise and truly multidisciplinary research interests — to provide you with a unique educational experience.

Students in the Neuroscience track can freely choose from labs at the Mayo Clinic campuses in Jacksonville, Florida; Rochester, Minnesota; or Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona. This provides unparalleled instruction from top neuroscientists in subjects as diverse as neurodegeneration, neuroregeneration, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, genetics, imaging, behavior, neuropathology, virology, pharmacology, stem cells and transplantation, deep brain stimulation, and clinical studies.

Ongoing research in this program includes:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal cord injury and repair
  • Neural regeneration
  • Non-Alzheimer's disease dementias
  • Neurogenetics
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Neuroengineering
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuroinflammation


The Neuroscience Track places a significant emphasis on laboratory-based research training. Laboratory research is complemented with both core and track-specific courses, as well as advanced courses on current topics in neuroscience. These are taught in a tutorial format with small groups of faculty and students discussing cutting-edge research in areas such as neural development, neural aging, neurogenetics, addiction and electrophysiology.

In addition to regular coursework, you’re provided with institutional support for travel to advanced courses at such institutions as Cold Spring Harbor and the Marine Biology Lab. In your first year of the program, you’ll also have the opportunity to attend the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting (SfN).

Year 1

  • Introductory neuroscience and core curriculum courses
  • Lab rotations
  • Comprehensive written qualifying examination
  • Critical thinking, presentation skills, and scientific writing courses
  • Selection of thesis lab

Year 2

  • Oral qualifying exam to determine advancement to candidacy
  • Completion of advanced neuroscience courses
  • Formation of thesis advisory committee
  • Laboratory research

Years 3-5+

  • Laboratory research
  • Works-in-progress presentation (annual)
  • Thesis committee meetings (biannual)
  • Elective courses in advanced neuroscience topics

Recent thesis topics


  • “Blood and Brain Metabolic Signatures of Depression, Schizophrenia, and Alcohol Use Disorder,” Daniel Lindberg, Ph.D. (Mentor: Doo-Sup Choi, Ph.D.)
  • “Targeting the Thrombin Receptor to Enhance Lipid Production and Repair in the CNS,” Erin M. Triplet, Ph.D. (Mentor: Isobel A. Scarisbrick, Ph.D.)
  • “Neural Basis of Chronic and Binge Alcohol Exposure and Impulsive Behaviors,” Phillip Starski, Ph.D. (Mentor: Doo-Sup Choi, Ph.D.)


  • “Neuroplasticity of Respiratory Motor Control following Spinal Cord Injury," Sabhya Rana, Ph.D. (Mentors: Carlos Mantilla, M.D. Ph.D. and Gary C. Sieck, Ph.D.)
  • “Microglial Responses to Damaged Myelin and the Consequences of Demyelination,” Miranda Standiford, Ph.D. (Mentor: Charles L. Howe, Ph.D.)
  • “Pathobiology of Clusterin in Alzheimer's Disease,” Aleksandra Wojtas, Ph.D. (Mentor: John Fryer, Ph.D.)


  • “Development and Application of Genome Engineering Tools to Investigate Rapid Stress Signaling in Vertebrates Using the Zebrafish Model,” Han Lee, Ph.D. (Mentor: Karl Clark, Ph.D.)
  • “Investigating the Effects of Deep Brain Stimulation on Functional and Effective Connectivity in Humans Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging,” William Gibson, Ph.D. (Mentor: Kendall Lee, M.D., Ph.D.)
  • “The Role of miR-7 in Regulation of Energy Homeostasis,” Hyejin Yoon, Ph.D. (Mentor: Jungsu Kim, Ph.D.)


  • “Model Systems of the C9ORF72 Hexanucleotide Repeat Expansion Mimic Disease Features of Frontotemporal Dementia and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis,” Jeannie Chew, Ph.D. (Mentor: Leonard Petrucelli, Ph.D.)
  • “Genetics of Alzheimer's Disease in At-Risk Populations,” Aurelie N’Songo, Ph.D. (Mentor: Nilufer Taner, M.D., Ph.D.)
  • “Engineering a Regeneration Permissive Environment Allowing for Recovery After Complete Spinal Cord Transection,” Jeffrey Hakim, Ph.D. (Mentor: Anthony Windebank, M.D.)
  • “The Role of Cannabinoid Signaling in Zebrafish Stress Responses,” Randall Krug III, Ph.D. (Mentor: Karl Clark, Ph.D.)


  • “Preclinical and Clinical Implications of Adenosine and Glutamate Signaling in Alcohol Use Disorder,” David Hinton, Ph.D. (Mentor: Doo-Sup Choi, Ph.D.)
  • “Synergy and Convergence of Pathways Controlling Axon Outgrowth and Neural Regeneration in the Spinal Cord,” Lucas Calstrom, Ph.D. (Mentor: John Henley, Ph.D., M.S.)
  • “Astrocytic Glutamate Dysregulation in Neuron-Glia Interactions in Alcoholism and Psychiatric Disorders,” Jennifer Ayers-Ringler, Ph.D. (Mentor: Doo-Sup Choi, Ph.D.)
  • The Neuropathology of Frontotemporal Dementia and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis with a C9ORF72 Hexanucleotide Repeat,” Kevin Bieniek, Ph.D. (Mentor: Dennis Dickson, M.D.)
  • Investigation of Neuropathological Identified Cerebral Microinfarcts and their Effects on Magnetic Resonance Imaging,” Mekala Raman, Ph.D. (Mentor: Kejal Kantarci, M.D.)

Your future

The Neuroscience Track has graduated more than 100 students, all of whom have gone on to successful careers in diverse areas such as academia, the pharmaceutical industry, scientific publishing and intellectual property. Our students and faculty publish at the highest levels and our scientific endeavors have made — and continue to make — a very real impact at the bench and in the clinic.

Meet the director

Profile photo of Dr. Owen Ross

Welcome to neuroscience at Mayo Clinic, where we offer training for graduate students in a broad range of basic science, translational, and clinical laboratories conducting cutting-edge research with a focus on translating research findings into treatments for disorders of the nervous system.

The Neuroscience Track delivers a unique, interdisciplinary, educational experience with vibrant student populations at Mayo Clinic's campuses in Rochester, Minnesota; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Jacksonville, Florida.

Owen Ross, Ph.D.
Neuroscience Track Director
Associate Professor of Neuroscience
Phone: 904-953-6280
See research interests

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Browse a list of Neuroscience Track faculty members