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Faculty Labs that accept grad students


Alison Adcock

R. Alison Adcock, MD, PhD
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

We study how the neuromodulatory systems shape models of the world held in long-term memory. Our approach uses human brain imaging to study explicit and implicit behavior during the active acquisition of information. We hope to leverage our findings into "behavioral neurostimulation" strategies for better mental health and educational practice.

Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck, PhD
Department of Neurobiology

We are interested in how neural activity represents ecologically relevant information and how neural circuits operate on that representation in order to survive in a complex and uncertain world.  This involves the study of probabilistic inference and machine learning, decision making under uncertainty, complex (often Bayesian) behavioral models, information and coding theory, and statistical (latent state space) analysis of neural data.  Using these tools, we collaborate with physiologists to identify the fundamental properties of biologically plausible neural circuits that are capable of generating observed behavior.

Staci Bilbo

Staci D. Bilbo, PhD
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

We seek to understand the role of the immune system in brain development, and thereby the ways in which immune activation during early brain development can affect the later-life outcomes of neural function, immune function, mood and cognition. A particular focus is on microglia, the primary immunocompetent cells of the CNS, which are involved in multiple aspects of normal brain development and function.

Diego Bohorquez

Diego Bohorquez, PhD
Department of Medicine

Our ambition is to learn how to treat the brain from the gut. We are focused on dissecting the neural circuits that transform signals from food and/or bacteria in the gut into electrical inputs that modulate behaviors like the desire to eat. We recently discovered that, like taste cells in the tongue, the gut also has a sensory neuroepithelial circuit (J Clin Invest. 2015;125(2):782). This circuit may be the first point of integration of signals from food, bacteria, or viruses in the gut and behaviors in the brain.

Nicolas Brunel

Nicolas Brunel, PhD
Department of Neurobiology

We use theoretical models of brain systems to investigate how they process and learn information from their inputs. Our current work focuses on the mechanisms of learning and memory, from the synapse to the network level, in collaboration with various experimental groups.

Nicole Calakos

Nicole Calakos, MD, PhD
Department of Neurology

We all know that as part of our daily lives we are constantly interacting with our environment - learning, adapting, establishing new memories and habits, and for better or for worse, forgetting as well. At the cellular level, these processes can be encoded by changes in the strength of synaptic transmission between neurons. The process by which neuronal connections change in response to experience is known as “synaptic plasticity” and this process is a major interest of our laboratory.

Anita Disney

Anita Disney, PhD
Department of Neurobiology

There are two broad research programs in our lab. The first, firmly in the realm of ‘Basic Science’, seeks to determine the role(s) that neuromodulators such as acetylcholine, noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin play in specifying functional connectivity and excitability across the wired circuitry of the brain, and how this dynamic circuit specification supports flexible behavior. To do this, we first study brain structure (anatomy) and then use those anatomical data to develop hypotheses for in vivo study in behaving animals, using methods from physiology, pharmacology, chemistry, and psychophysics. The second program of research in the lab takes a Basic Science approach to understanding the neuropathology underlying Alzheimer’s disease at the transcriptomic, metabolomic, and proteomic levels, with a focus on the female brain and the menopause transition.

Tim Dunn

Timothy Dunn, PhD
Department of Biomedical Engineering

Our lab designs and applies novel machine learning methods to measure and understand biological and artificial nervous systems. We are particularly interested in the brain’s control of behavior and how this control is disrupted in disease. Thus, a major focus of the lab is on establishing experimental technologies and algorithms that provide high-resolution 3D quantification of animal behavior across multiple scales, and analytical techniques for finding structure in these rich behavioral signals.

Kaf Dzirasa

Kafui Dzirasa, MD, PhD
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

We study how neuropsychiatric risk genes interact with environmental stress to modify neural circuits that underlie normal emotional and cognitive function. We use in vivo electrophysiology, cell type specific neuromodulatory techniques (optogenetics and DREADDs), and quantitative analysis of behavior in genetically modified mice.

Cagla Eroglu

Cagla Eroglu, PhD
Department of Cell Biology

We investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie synaptic connectivity in the CNS. Distinct from many other laboratories, we view astrocytes as an integral part of the synapse with roles in synapse development, function, and plasticity. Our approach involves anatomical and imaging-based assays in pure primary neuron-astrocyte cultures or genetically-modified mice. 

Chantell Evans

Chantell Evans, PhD
Department of Cell Biology

The focus of the Evans Lab is to mechanistically define these diverse mitochondrial quality control pathways, including mitochondrial fusion and fission events, mitochondrial derived vesicles, and mitophagy. Our goal is to understand how these pathways collaborate to regulate the mitochondrial network in healthy neurons and what goes wrong in neurodegenerative disease.

Kevin Franks

Kevin Franks, PhD
Department of Neurobiology

We use the rodent olfactory system to study how the brain forms internal representations of the external world. We analyze small, functional neural circuits in the olfactory bulb and piriform cortex. We record and image odor-evoked responses in vivo, employ optogenetic circuit mapping in vitro, and use olfactory behavioral assays.

Lindsey Glickfeld

Lindsey Glickfeld, PhD
Department of Neurobiology

We study neural circuits in the mouse visual cortex in order to understand how the brain processes sensory information. We use a range of anatomical, electrophysiological, imaging, and behavioral approaches to determine how the synaptic organization of these circuits supports perception.

Bradley Goldstein

Bradley Goldstein, MD, PhD
Head and Neck Surgery and Communication Sciences

A surgeon-scientist, Dr. Goldstein focuses his clinical work on rhinology and sinus surgery with an interest on olfactory loss. His basic research program is broadly focused on understanding damage and repair in the peripheral olfactory system, using cell culture and mouse models as well as human tissue and single-cell techniques.

Jorg Grandl

Jörg Grandl, PhD
Department of Neurobiology

We study molecular and cellular mechanisms of rapid mechanotransduction, which is initiated within less than one millisecond and enabled by force-gated ion channels.


Henry Greenside

Henry Greenside, PhD
Department of Physics

My research broadly concerns theoretical neuroscience, in which I use  my training in theoretical and computational physics and especially  in nonlinear dynamics to understand how brains process information at  the circuit level. Current interests involve understanding how  songbirds learn and produce precise vocalizations (in collaboration  with Richard Mooney), understanding the early stages of olfaction in  insects and mammals, and using connectomics data to constrain and so  improve the relevance of theoretical models.

Warren Grill

Warren Grill, PhD
Department of Biomedical Engineering

Our work develops neural prostheses, including mechanisms of and technology for deep brain stimulation, restoration of control of bladder function, and spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain. We conduct computer-based modeling of neurons and electric fields, in vivo stimulation and recording in pre-clinical models, and clinical feasibility / physiology experiments in humans.

Jennifer Groh

Jennifer Groh, PhD
Department of Neurobiology, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience 

We investigate how the brain compares and fuses what we see with what we hear. Our research combines experimental and theoretical approaches to measure and manipulate neural activity while animals perform behavioral tasks.

Josh Huang

Josh Huang, PhD

Department of Neurobiology

We study the development and function of cortical circuits underlying motor control and cognitive processing. Our research program integrates multi-faceted approaches from genetic engineering to single-cell genomics, developmental neurobiology, imaging, electrophysiology, and behavioral analyses, and aims to link fundamental neuroscience to the understanding and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. 

Scott Huettel

Scott Huettel, PhD
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience 

We study the neural basis of decision making and related aspects of cognition. Key techniques include functional neuroimaging, computational modeling, eye tracking and other behavioral measurements, genetic and hormonal analyses, and other behavioral and physiological measures in human participants.

Court Hull

Court Hull, PhD
Department of Neurobiology

We study the organization and physiology of neural circuits in the brain involved with coordinating body movements. These studies utilize optical and electrical recordings from mice, both in vitro andin vivo, in order to understand how these circuits operate during motor behaviors.

Ru-Rong Ji

Ru Rong Ji, PhD
Department of Anesthesiology 

We investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the induction, maintenance, and resolution of persistent pain. We focus on spinal cord synaptic transmission and the role of glial cells. We use a range of molecular, cellular, electrophysiological, and behavioral approaches in transgenic mice.

Jeremy Kay

Jeremy Kay, PhD
Department of Neurobiology, Department of Ophthalmology 

We study how the developing nervous system builds neural circuits. We seek to identify cellular and molecular mechanisms that generate different types of neurons, that endow them with specific identities, and that wire them together into circuits with a coherent function. Further, we would like to know what happens to circuit function when these mechanisms go awry, as may happen in neurodevelopmental disorders.

Steve Lisberger

Stephen Lisberger, PhD
Department of Neurobiology 

We investigate how the brain learns motor skills, and how we use what we see to guide how we move. Our approaches involve studies of eye movements on behaving non-human primates. 


Hiro Matsunami

Hiroaki Matsunami, PhD
Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology 

We investigate how we detect and discriminate tens of thousands of odorous chemicals using hundreds of olfactory receptors encoded in the mammalian genome. We mainly use molecular genetics, cell biology, imaging and behavioral approaches in mice.

Jenna McHenry

Jenna McHenry, PhD
Department of Psychology & Neuroscience

The goal of the research in my lab is to define the fixed and flexible features of molecularly defined neural circuits that direct ethological forms of social and nonsocial motivated behavior. We focus on hypothalamic subnuclei within key social and homeostatic control centers, and their connections with midbrain dopaminergic reward systems.

Jim McNamara

James O. McNamara, MD
Department of Neurobiology 

We seek to elucidate the mechanisms of epileptogenesis, the process by which epilepsy develops and progresses. Signaling through the BDNF receptor, TrkB, is central to these mechanisms. Our approaches include behavioral, genetic, electrophysiological, and advanced imaging studies of genetically modified mice.

Kate Meyer

Kate Meyer, PhD
Department of Biochemistry

The Meyer Lab studies RNA regulatory pathways in the nervous system. We have a particular interest in understanding how RNA methylation (m6A) controls gene expression programs in the brain to contribute to human health and disease.

Rich Mooney

Richard D. Mooney, PhD
Department of Neurobiology 

Our research aims to identify the neural substrates for vocal learning and communication. We use both songbird and rodents to achieve these aims. Songbirds are one of the few non-human animals that learn to vocalize and serve as the preeminent model in which to identify neural mechanisms for vocal learning. The songbird is ideal for this purpose because of its well-described capacity to vocally imitate the songs of other birds, and because its brain has a constellation of discrete, interconnected brain regions (i.e., song control nuclei, referred to collectively as the song system) that function in the patterning, perception, learning and maintenance of song.

Eva Naumann

Eva Aimable Naumann, PhD
Department of Neurobiology

The Naumann Lab is interested in how neural circuits across the entire brain guide behavior and how individuality manifests within these circuits. Our goal is to understand how precisely the neural circuits underlying sensory systems of individuals form, develop, and function. To dissect such circuits, we use the genetically accessible and translucent zebrafish to map, monitor, and manipulate neuronal activity. By combining whole-brain imaging, behavioral monitoring, functional perturbations, neuroanatomy, computational modeling, and machine learning, we aim to generate brain-scale circuit models of simple behaviors in individual brains.

John Pearson

John Pearson, PhD
Department of Neurobiology

My research focuses on the application of machine learning methods to the analysis of brain data and behavior. I have a special interest in the neurobiology of reward and decision-making, particularly issues surrounding foraging, impulsivity, and self-control. More generally, I am interested in computational principles underlying brain organization at the mesoscale, and work in my lab studies phenomena that range from complex social behaviors to coding principles of the retina.

Debra Silver

Debra Silver, PhD
Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology 

We study how neurons of the cerebral cortex are generated from neural progenitors during development. Our approach encompasses mouse genetics, microscopy (both fixed and live imaging of brain slices), and in utero manipulation of gene expression.

Scott Soderling

Scott Soderling, PhD
Department of Cell Biology 

We study the mechanisms of synaptic development and plasticity that are regulated by signaling to the dendritic spine cytoskeleton that are also implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders. We use a wide range of tools for these studies, including genetically engineered mice, biochemistry, in vivo viral expression, live imaging, and behavioral analysis.

Marc Sommer

Marc Sommer, PhD
Department of Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Marc Sommer studies neuronal circuits of the brain. Research in his laboratory involves recording from single neurons and studying the effects of inactivating or stimulating well-defined brain areas. His goals are to understand how individual areas process signals and how multiple areas interact to cause cognition and behavior. Results from the work are guiding the design of vision-based models and robots.

Allen Song

Allen Song, PhD
Department of Radiology 

We center our research on the acquisition methodology, processing strategies and contrast mechanisms for brain MRI. We use these approaches to investigate the functional neuroanatomy and brain connectivities in both healthy and diseased populations in humans.

Derek Southwell

Derek Southwell, MD, PhD
Department of Neurosurgery

Our research group seeks to improve the treatment of neurologic diseases and injuries.  We are examining how neuronal cellular dysfunction and abnormal brain activity patterns are related, and how they reflect and contribute to nervous system pathophysiology.  We apply this knowledge to the development of cell- and device-based therapies that correct or compensate for cellular and circuit-level processes underlying neurologic disease and injury.

Michael Tadross

Michael Raphael Tadross, MD, PhD
Department of Biomedical Engineering

The Tadross lab develops technologies to rapidly deliver drugs to genetically defined subsets of cells in the brain. By using these reagents in mouse models of neuropsychiatric disease, his group is mapping how specific receptors on defined cells and synapses in the brain give rise to diverse neural computations and behaviors.  The approach leverages drugs currently in use to treat human neuropsychiatric disease, facilitating clinically relevant interpretation of the mapping effort.


Dmitry Velmeshev, PhD
Department of Neurobiology

The goal of the Velmeshev lab is to understand normal human brain development and neurodevelopmental diseases at the single cell level.​

We are particularly interested in gaining a holistic view of how genetic programs instruct neural progenitors give rise to the diverse cell types of the brain and guide formation of neuronal circuits, and how these processes are affected in brain disorders, such as autism.

Jonathan Viventi

Jonathan Viventi, PhD
Department of Biomedical Engineering 

We use flexible electronics to create new technology for interfacing with the brain at high resolution over large areas. These new tools can help diagnose and treat neurological disorders such as epilepsy, and help improve the performance of brain machine interfaces.

Pelin Volkan

Pelin Volkan, PhD
Department of Biology

We study the developmental processes that establish the basic organizational and functional principles of the neuronal circuits in the brain. We investigate how the neuronal circuits assemble, functionally mature, and remodel along developmental and evolutionary time scales. We apply molecular, developmental and systems level approaches in the olfactory system of the genetically tractable Drosophila melanogaster.

Andrew West

Andrew West, PhD
Departments of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology and Neurology

The “other” West lab focuses on identifying critical pathogenic mechanisms underlying neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease with the goal of developing new therapeutics to block disease progression. The West lab is housed in the brand-new Duke Center for Neurodegeneration and Neurotherapeutics and works with clinicians in the discovery of biomarkers for disease progression and therapeutic responses together with basic neuroscientists in defining pathways in neurons and immune cells that drive disease.

Anne West

Anne E. West, MD, PhD
Department of Neurobiology 

In the West lab we study the molecular mechanisms and biological consequences of stimulus-regulated transcription in the CNS. The brain is a highly adaptable organ that is capable of converting environmental information into changes in neuronal function. Transcriptional regulators play an essential role in this process by transducing synaptic activity into changes in the regulation of neuronal gene expression programs that are required for the formation, maturation, and plasticity of synapses.

Marty Woldorff

Marty Woldorff, PhD
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences 

We use a combination of electrophysiological (ERP, EEG) and functional neuroimaging (fMRI) methods to study the mechanisms of attention and related cognitive processes in humans. Themes include: (1) Attentional and cognitive control; (2) Attentional modulation of perceptual processes; (3) Influence of training on attention; (4) The relationships between attention and reward.

Dong Yan

Dong Yan, PhD
Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology 

Our research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying neural circuit formation during development and regeneration following injury. Through classic genetic analysis, laser microsurgery, in vivo live imaging technique, and molecular and cellular manipulations in C. elegans, we are discovering conserved mechanisms that play key roles in neural circuit formation, axon regeneration, and degeneration.

Rebecca Yang

Rebecca Yang, PhD
Department of Neurobiology 

Our lab is interested in understanding the circuit mechanisms by which animal brains decode the biological value (e.g., attractiveness) of sensory stimuli to guide simple decisions. We use Drosophila egg-laying site selection as our model system. We found that Drosophila females show clear preferences when tasked to rank the relative attractiveness of suitable egg-laying sites. 

Huanghe Yang

Huanghe Yang, PhD
Department of Biochemistry

Our laboratory is interested in understanding molecular basis of ion and lipid transport across cell membranes and their impacts on health and disease. We aim to provide insights and ultimately therapeutics to prevent and treat related disease. Our current focus is the newly discovered TMEM16 protein family, members of which include the calcium-activated ion channels and calcium-activated lipid scramblases.

Henry Yin

Henry Yin, PhD
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience 

We study neural circuits underlying the learning and generation of actions. We use in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics, and quantitative analysis of behavior in rodents.




Labs not accepting graduate students


Yiyang Gong

Yiyang Gong, PhD
Department of Biomedical Engineering 

We're interested in understanding brain function using a combination of genetically encoded sensors and optical techniques. We use genetically encoded tools to target neurons with specific genetic types or specific projection pathways, and use optical microscopy to measure or change the activity of the selected neurons. By employing and developing tools in both categories, we study brain circuitry by recording, perturbing, and controlling brain activity in various preparations.

Boris Kantor

Boris Kantor, PhD
Department of Neurobiology

Viral Vector Core at Duke University is a full service facility with extensive experience in the production of viral-based platforms for gene delivery including HIV-1-based vectors, adeno-associated vectors (AAV) and Rabies Viruses. The vector core provides comprehensive service for researchers both intramural and extramural to Duke, interested in utilizing viral-based method of gene delivery.

Dale Purves

Dale Purves, MD
We study visual and auditory perception and the neurobiological underpinnings of perceptual phenomena, including the evolution of simple networks in simulated environments. We employ studies of human perception along with computer simulations.


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Sidney A. Simon, PhD
Dr. Simon's laboratory studies the interaction of chemical stimuli with cultured and intact trigeminal ganglion neurons and taste receptor cells in culture, in anesthetized and in awake behaving animals. We investigate how chemicals that are either bitter and/or irritating (e.g., nicotine, capsaicin, colloidal particles) interact with particular types of receptors (e.g. nicotinic acetylcholine receptors or vanilloid receptors) to produce a bitter or irritating or painful sensation.