In the last two decades, some of the most important advances in neuroscience have been driven by innovations from technical fields such as physics, electrical and chemical engineering, bioengineering and computer science. Likewise, many future breakthroughs in our understanding of the function of the brain, its emergent properties and its diseases, will doubtless come from individuals who can bring their technical disciplines to bear on challenging problems in neuroscience.
The new NeuroTech graduate training program, supported by a National Science Foundation research training grant, immerses Stanford PhD students from technical disciplines into neuroscience. During the three-year program, NeuroTech trainees explore courses, seminars and travel opportunities that will give them a background in the field and introduce them to its important, outstanding challenges. They pursue research projects that apply their technical background to addressing these challenges, and, through internships and discussions with faculty and fellow trainees, consider how they can prepare themselves to become leaders in industry or academia. The NeuroTech program admits students at the end of their first year in technical or quantitative PhD programs; students who are interested in applying are strongly encouraged to take the Experimental Immersion in Neuroscience course, NSUR249, beforehand. NSUR249 will be offered in winter quarter of 2019.
“Technology advances have revolutionized how we study the nervous system and how we treat brain disorders. We fully expect this trend to continue, and our training program is focused on bringing top talent from physics, engineering, and other technical disciplines into neuroscience to make this future possible."
— E.J. Chichilnisky, co-Director, Center for Mind, Brain, Computation and Technology
The NeuroTech program gives graduate students from technology disciplines a background in the neurosciences, practice improving communication, leadership and other career-critical skills, experience in career paths in and outside of academia, and a supportive community of students and faculty mentors. Traineeships start in a student’s second year of their PhD, and continue for three years.
Students who would like to learn more about how they can apply their technical background to advancing experimental research in the neurosciences, or who are interested in applying for the NeuroTech graduate training program, are strongly encouraged to take the Experimental Immersion in Neuroscience course (NSUR 249). Students will visit one neuroscience lab per week to watch experiments, understand the technical apparatus and animal models being used, discuss the questions being addressed and interact with students and others conducting the research. Previous research in an experimental laboratory is not required.
Trainees begin the NeuroTech program by taking the Stanford Intensive Neuroscience Boot Camp course (NEPR 299) to experience experimental neuroscience, and to build community of fellow neuroscience students. In addition, in their first year trainees work with their faculty mentors to select appropriate courses from among the neuroscience core courses (NEPR 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 207, 208, 213), and complete the Responsible Conduct of Neuroscience Research course (NEPR212).
In their second year as a trainee, students work with their faculty mentors to select a data science course that is relevant to their research or career goals.
In their final year, trainees may choose to do an internship either with another academic lab outside of Stanford, or in industry.
In addition, throughout all three years in the program trainees participate in the NeuroTech training seminar, in which students work with faculty, outside experts and each other to discuss and practice topics of relevance to their success as graduate students and in their careers, including scientific, communication, leadership, business and interpersonal skills.
Combined, these courses inform and advance both trainees’ personal development and their research. NeuroTech trainees’ research projects, under the guidance of their primary mentors, apply their technical expertise to furthering discovery in the neurosciences and addressing outstanding questions in the field.
Prospective Stanford graduate students
The NeuroTech graduate training program is only available to students who have already begun their PhD program at Stanford. Please follow the normal application procedures for the PhD program of your choice, and consider joining the center’s mailing list to learn more about seminars, symposia and other events.