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Innovative Education

Houston Methodist Introduces an Ivy League Neuroscience PhD Program

Houston Methodist has partnered with Weill Cornell Medicine to create a PhD Program in Neuroscience with its first class of 2023.

For the past 16 years, Houston Methodist continues its close affiliation with Weill Cornell Medicine with the goal of training the next generation of scientists and clinicians. As a part of the Texas Medical Center — the largest medical center in the world – Houston Methodist remains a hub for innovative research and technologies aimed to directly impact human health.
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Houston Methodist initially collaborated with the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences (WCGS) to offer a doctoral program in Physiology, Biophysics, and Systems Biology (PBSB), which recently accepted its third class of students. In 2023, WCGS expanded its PhD program in Neuroscience to Houston Methodist with its first class of students. This new program spans basic, translational and clinical research.
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Houston Methodist serves as a satellite campus in this partnership whereas Weill Cornell awards the degree. As a translational-oriented institution, Houston Methodist’s Department of Neuroscience specializes in research on neurodegeneration, plasticity, regeneration and neural cancers. Doctoral candidates will have access to training opportunities using state-of-the-art facilities and technology with a focus on translation. Additionally, Houston Methodist offers a supportive culture across all departments and hospital branches.
Philip J. Horner, PhD
What’s unique about this partnership is the physical distance between Weill Cornell and Houston Methodist. Historically, collaborations of this kind that create satellite programs are quite common; however, they are usually a part of the same campus where there is a concentration of research institutes. Despite the geographic distance, this collaboration has been made possible in part thanks to the new mindset in the post-COVID era to embrace virtual collaborations and remote learning. Doctoral candidates will perform laboratory research onsite at Houston Methodist while attending virtual classes instructed by Weill Cornell faculty in New York.
Philip J. Horner, PhD, Director of Weill Cornell Neuroscience PhD program, Professor of Neuroregeneration, and Scientific Director for the Center for Neuroregeneration at Houston Methodist has spearheaded this initiative and is enthusiastic about the possibilities and future potential of this program.
Houston Methodist which is one of the nation’s top hospitals is bringing a brand-new, Ivy League doctoral program to the Houston community and the Texas Medical Center. We have been building a partnership with the Department of Neuroscience at Weill Cornell for about four years now,” said Horner. “Weill Cornell has one of the top Neuroscience PhD programs in the world. “Joint faculty in the program are conducting internationally recognized research in models of aging, neurodegeneration and injury within cell, animal and human model systems and will challenge students to develop expertise beyond neuroscience, such as organ and brain interactions, systems level physiology, engineering and computational biology.
Philip J. Horner, PhD
Director of Weill Cornell Neuroscience PhD program
Professor of Neuroregeneration
Scientific Director for the Center for Neuroregeneration

Meet the PhD Neuroscience Class of 2023

Marisela J. Martinez de Kraatz holds a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Houston Christian University. She was keen to join a doctoral program that specialized in translational medicine and felt drawn to this program as she has always been intrigued with how molecular factors influence neurodegenerative diseases. She feels that the community at Houston Methodist is knowledgeable, supportive and exceptionally kind.
Lorna McMahon holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology & Biomedical Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse at Saint Charles, Illinois. Lorna feels that the environment at Houston Methodist is very friendly and helpful and that, in part, fueled her decision to join this PhD program. She believes that her art degree makes her a better scientist and improves her ability to think outside the box. She is excited to study neuroregeneration, aging, therapeutic applications and translational medicine.
Joseph Zambelas graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor’s in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Mathematics. He has enjoyed science since he was young and joined this program to better understand the nervous system and how the brain functions. He is interested in neuroregeneration and research on nervous circuits and looks forward to a career in academia.
Isis Y. Torres graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biosciences from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. She has always been drawn to medicine and science and holds a fascination for stem cells and human physiology. Isis appreciates the environment at Houston Methodist and says it was one of the reasons she joined the program.
Abanti Chattopadhyay, PhD
November 2023
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