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World-class neuroscience training and research

Northwestern University offers world-class advanced training in neuroscience via its Interdepartmental Neuroscience (NUIN) PhD program. NUIN is anchored in the Feinberg School of Medicine, Shirley Ryan Ability Lab and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago on the university’s Chicago campus and the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, McCormick School of Engineering and School of Communication on the Evanston campus. NUIN is a highly interdisciplinary and collaborative program with numerous and diverse foci of research excellence.

About Us Why NUIN?

Who We Are

The NUIN program has approximately 130 PhD students and 160 faculty representing 20 departments across the Chicago (Medical School) and Evanston (Undergraduate) campuses. Meet the students currently completing their training and the faculty who serve as their teachers and mentors.

Current Students Faculty

What We Do

PhD Program

Our research-oriented PhD program offers students from diverse backgrounds and majors a rigorous training in the field of neuroscience.

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NIH Training Grants

NUIN's large number of active NIH Training Programs support pre- and postdoctoral students and represent areas of intense intellectual activity and recognized research excellence.

See Our Areas of Focus

Postbaccalaureate Program

NU PREP is a one-year program of enhanced research training, academic support and mentoring for recent postbaccalaureate students planning to apply to PhD programs in biomedical research.

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New Faculty in NUIN

We are interested in the neurobiological mechanisms underlying cognition, both at the local circuit level and in terms of large-scale interactions between different brain areas. In particular, the lab seeks to understand how different areas of the brain interact flexibly to support the many different computations that underlie different types of decision making. Two specific lines of inquiry are on how neuromodulators help coordinate the activity of different cortical areas with changing computational demands, and on identifying the behavioral features that explain why brain activity looks the way it does during different tasks. To do so, the lab uses a combination of high-throughput virtual-reality behavior in mice, large-scale optical recording and perturbation techniques, genetic tools for circuit mapping, and computational modeling.
Our lab studies the role of light in behavior by linking the cellular function of cells within the retina to their downstream circuits in the brain and output behavior. To do this, we examine the role of RGC subtypes in specific visual functions. For example, the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), which express the photopigment melanopsin, comprise five subtypes that drive a wide range of behaviors from circadian photoentrainment to contrast sensitivity for vision. The defined and quantitative behaviors in which these cells are involved and the myriad available genetic tools for the study of this system make it an ideal one in which to study the circuitry and role of ganglion cells in visual behavior. We do this using a range of techniques from electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, optogenetics, and behavioral approaches in various genetic mouse models.

NUIN Student Spotlight

Schnade Drizan

My thesis research uses the rodent vibrissa (whisker) system as a model to study sensorimotor integration at the level of the brainstem. We are interested in investigating how SpVi neurons aid in whisker-mediated orienting behaviors. Specifically, can they encode information about the speed and direction of tactile surfaces that brush along or move through the whisker array? The goal of this project is to quantify the sensory signals that guide motor control using the whisker system in the anesthetized rat where we can fully quantify the kinematics of sensory signals and the mechanics of the sensor. Therefore, we propose to investigate the integrative properties of these neurons to further our understanding of their role in encoding spatial information.

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