Neurobiology Graduate Training Program

Duke’s Neurobiology Graduate Training Program is an interdepartmental program for students with training in a variety of fields to pursue a Ph.D. in neurobiology. Our program is designed to prepare students to succeed in research-oriented institutions. Our diverse group of students become researchers at universities and biotechnology companies and/or professors at colleges and universities.

**Update: The GRE is no longer required for Neurobiology’s Ph.D. program**


Mission of the Program

The neurobiology program is oriented toward questions of the structure and function of brain cells and the brain. We strive to train Ph.D. students for careers that will further knowledge about how the brain works, and/or develop treatments and cures for neurological, neuropsychiatric, and developmental disorders.

Interdisciplinary Research and Training

We promote interdisciplinary and collaborative research within our modern and vital research programs. While our training program resides in the Department of Neurobiology in the School of Medicine, the program includes over 50 training program faculty from departments across the university. This widespread representation ensures a broad scientific framework in which students can receive training and pursue doctoral research. 

Related programs include: Cognitive Neuroscience Admitting Program (CNAP), Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB), Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), and Systems and Integrative Neuroscience Program. For additional information, visit the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS).

Broad Coverage of Neuroscience

The training program provides students with a thorough understanding of cellular, molecular, systems, cognitive, and developmental neurobiology while advancing them into substantive research as quickly as possible. Students complete a core curriculum that covers the major concepts of contemporary neurobiology. They are encouraged to work with faculty to develop a further course of study tailored to their needs, backgrounds and interests.

Research Training

Our major emphasis is research. In the first year, students complete two or three laboratory rotations. Each student selects a thesis mentor at the end of the first year and begins research in the second year. By the end of the second year, s/he submits a thesis proposal that serves as the exam for advancement to degree candidacy. Students should be able to complete the Ph.D. program in five years.

History of the Program

In 1988, the program was initiated, and Bill Hall served as the interim chair. Dale Purves assumed the role of the first permanent chair of the department in 1990. The program has a current enrollment of about 60 students and graduates about twelve students a year. Over 100 students have completed the program and received their Ph.D.’s. Almost all of our students pursue postdoctoral fellowships after completing their dissertations. 


View a list of Awards, Fellowships, Publications and Outreach from the graduate students in our program.

Diversity and Inclusion

We recruit students who embrace our values of diversity and inclusion, as diversity increases our success and enriches our community. We are committed to maintaining a culture in which everyone feels welcomed, valued, and supported.

Neurobiology Events

The Neurobiology program also hosts events that provide numerous opportunities for involvement and learning to students. Events include a Fall Reception, an Annual Retreat, monthly Neuroscience Career Lunches, and weekly Happy Hours. The School of Medicine also sponsors Basic Science Day and Research Week.



Jörg Grandl, Ph.D.
Director of Graduate Studies
(919) 684-1144

Anita Disney, Ph.D.
(919) 684-5532


Graduate Student Representatives

Robin Blazing
Graduate Student Affairs Liaison

Lindsey Chew
Steering Committee Representative

Shuyang Jin
General Assembly Representative for the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC)

Michael Sindoni
Steering Committee Representative