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Neural Scientist Training Program: O'Donnell Brain Institute, Dallas, TX

Neural Scientist Training Program

The O’Donnell Brain Institute’s Neural Scientist Training Program (NSTP) identifies and supports exceptional trainees who are pursuing scientific careers focused on nervous system function including the translation of fundamental insights into novel therapeutics. Our goal is to provide close mentorship to early-career scientists as they develop into established academic leaders.

Learn about the scientists chosen for the NSTP program and how it will support their research and careers.

Program Structure


To be eligible, individuals must be entering a Ph.D. or M.D.- Ph.D. program and plan to pursue thesis work relevant to normal or abnormal nervous system function. Preference will be given to those exploring issues related to brain disease.

This encompasses all areas of neuroscience relevant to brain disease, including but not limited to:

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell biology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Neural circuitry
  • Behavioral studies

Candidates will typically pursue their thesis work in the UT Southwestern Neuroscience Ph.D. Program, but may work with any UT Southwestern mentor as long as they pursue a project within the scope of the NSTP mission.

Funding support

The NSTP will fund up to three fellows annually. Fellows will receive two years of full stipend and tuition support (years two to three for Ph.D. students and the initial two Ph.D. years for M.D.–Ph.D. students).

Fellows are required to apply for an NIH F31 Fellowship Program (or similar) during the final year of NSTP support.

Fellows will also receive an additional annual $5,000 stipend to encourage their scholarship, support the participation and presentation of their work at meetings, or to facilitate their education in other ways.

Although funding is limited to two years, NTSP Scholars remain part of the program (including mentorship and related activities) for the entirety of their graduate careers.


Faculty mentorship is an important NSTP priority, and each fellow will be paired with a faculty member in their field of study in addition to their Ph.D. mentors. Fellows will have the opportunity to closely interact with faculty to foster beneficial professional relationships.

NSTP scholars will present their work annually to an O’Donnell Brain Institute mentoring committee that includes leading UT Southwestern scientists, such as National Academy of Sciences members and Nobel Laureates.

Fellows will also have the opportunity to receive feedback on grant and manuscript submissions to assist in their continued scholarship.

Translational Opportunities

The NSTP will offer opportunities for fellows to interact with clinicians and observe patients firsthand, providing them with a unique perspective on brain disease.

Eligibility and How to Apply

NSTP candidates are selected from the group of students who are offered admission to the UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences or the UT Southwestern Medical Scientist Training Program.

The Graduate School or MSTP application material serves as the application for the NSTP program; no additional material is required.

Students interested in being considered for the NSTP program should notify the admissions staff or their faculty interviewers. NSTP staff faculty will also advance the names of those interviewed or accepted students they believe would be strong candidates for the NSTP program.

For more information, email Brenda Pallares, Administrative Coordinator, O’Donnell Brain Institute.

Review Criteria

Candidates are evaluated based on:

  • The strength of their academic and research records
  • Their commitment to the highest quality investigation
  • Their future likelihood to develop as a highly impactful scientist in brain science