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Neurosciences PhD Program

Message from the Directors:

The human brain is an extraordinary apparatus that controls our functions, thoughts, and communication. The brain’s function amazes both researchers and the general public alike. The field of Neuroscience continues to evolve and intersect with formerly separate disciplines, including computing, public policy, and human health. As a result, a degree in Neuroscience has never been more valuable in our society, but also more complex. True mastery requires an understanding of multiple skills and disciplines. For example, the student of translational neuroscience must understand the many facets of how the brain developed and functions as well as how this knowledge applies to modern challenges and treatments. They must have knowledge of the basic research that serves as the foundation for our knowledge, but also how these basic findings translate to applications outside of the laboratory.

We strongly believe that this is an extraordinary time for neuroscience and for the role of neuroscience in medicine and our modern society. Recent advances in laboratory-based neuroscience have included CRISPR gene-editing, computational modeling and machine learning, and optogenetics, to name just a few. In medicine, we have seen an extraordinary boom in new technologies for movement disorders, immunotherapy for brain malignancies, technologies for adult and pediatric epilepsy. These stunning breakthroughs cross departments, fields of education and degree development, and also offer exciting new treatments for our patients.

At OU we want to train the next generation of researchers, thought-leaders, and decision-makers in the field of neuroscience. We offer a curriculum that allows our students to master the many intricacies of the field. This includes a core curriculum during the first two years and then subsequent engagement in mentored research. Our students interact with and work with world-class faculty on our campus in Oklahoma City. And, they have the opportunity to learn from national leaders who visit our campus through ongoing seminars and quarterly symposia.  Further, we are uniquely led by both the Graduate College and the Department of Neurological Surgery. As a result, our students get to work with leading clinician scientists who are conducting translational neuroscience that directly impacts and benefits patients. 


Zachary A. Smith, M.D.        
David Sherry, Ph.D.
Co-Directors, Neuroscience Ph.D. Program