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The Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine provides an outstanding academic environment for pursuing multidisciplinary research and training in neuroscience. The department has recently expanded by recruiting 9 new faculty members for a total of 37 faculty member at all levels including 18 funded research laboratories. The department has about 50 research grants with over $8 million in annual grants, as well as several endowments. Recent grant awards include the spinal cord program project, major NIH and DoD grants, and numerous Foundation grants. As of 2017, the department is ranked #24 in NIH funding [PDF] among all medical schools in the U.S (source: The department offers postdoctoral training in individual laboratories and research groups and graduate student training through the Neuroscience program for outstanding individuals preparing for a research career in the biomedical sciences.

The department promotes a highly interactive and collaborative environment that encourages training and research and lab meetings outside the confines of one laboratory, thus providing flexibility and diversity in the training process. In addition, the department is responsible for the teaching of several major courses for medical students including Gross Anatomy, Medical Neuroscience, and Microanatomy with laboratory components. Based on the experience and resources offered in these classes, our educators developed online remediation courses that, in the last seven years, have served medical students from more than 40 medical schools and offered a collaborative Artistic Anatomy course for art students, which is one of its kind in the U.S. and was featured on the Emmy-nominated WHYY-TV's (PBS) Friday Arts program in a story called "The Gross Lab."

Current faculty research interests include the following areas:

Confocal views, provided by Dr. Son, of neuromuscular junctions in the adult mouse muscle.

Confocal views, provided by Dr. Son, of neuromuscular junctions in the adult mouse muscle. Motor axons (yellow) elaborate fine terminal branches in precise apposition to acetylcholine receptors in the muscle fiber (blue). Motor axons and nerve terminals are capped by Schwann cells (red).

Training can be obtained in all aspects of advanced microscopy and imaging, tissue culture, transplantation techniques, gene therapy and sequencing, behavioral neurobiology, kinematics, intracellular recording, patch clamping, computer modeling of neurobiological processes and robotics. The department has well-equipped shared facilities for confocal microscopy, electron microscopy, image acquisition and processing, small animal surgery, behavioral analysis, biochemistry and molecular biology. Research training is also supplemented by a seminar series featuring faculty, postdoctoral fellows and outside speakers. Journal clubs and discussions of research findings are scheduled regularly and often shared among individual laboratories.

The Program Project Grant on Recovery of Function After Spinal Cord Injury awarded by the NIH involves seven individual faculty with additional support coming from national and international foundations including the Christopher Reeve Research Foundation and EPVA. This program comprises neurobiological research ranging from molecular neurobiology of spinal cord regeneration to functional studies of recovery of motor behavior after spinal cord injury, offering an excellent multidisciplinary training opportunity in the field of spinal cord injury.

Meet Our Faculty

Read a Q&A with Itzhak Fischer, PhD, on supporting community outreach programs, in the summer 2018 issue of the Alumni Magazine.

Read a Q&A with Dennis DePace, PhD, on Teaching Gross Anatomy, in the fall 2015 issue of the Alumni Magazine.

News & Announcements

The Chemicals They Carry

Thousands of U.S. soldiers returned from the 1991 Persian Gulf War with a mysterious, incurable illness. To find answers, College of Medicine researchers are reprogramming veterans' cells. eXel Drexel University Research Magazine (2018)

Lab-Grown Neurons Improve Breathing In Rats After Spinal Cord Injury

Researchers from Drexel University College of Medicine and the University of Texas at Austin improved respiratory function in rodents with spinal cord injuries after successfully transplanting a special class of neural cells, called V2a interneurons. Their results, published this week in the Journal of Neurotrauma, indicate that these lab-grown cells have the potential to one day help paralyzed patients breathe without a ventilator. Science Magazine / Drexel News

2018 Faculty Awards

The following faculty members were the recipients of 2018 faculty awards:

  • Wen-Jun Gao, MD, PhD - Julian Marsh Faculty Scholar Award
  • Kimberly Dougherty, PhD - Young Investigator Award

See all 2018 faculty awardees.

2018 Golden Apple Awards

On April 10, faculty and staff were recognized for excellence in teaching and outstanding service at the 2018 Golden Apple Award Ceremony.

MD/PhD Student Linda Chamberlin Wins at Colloquium of Scholars

Linda Chamberlin, an MD/PhD student currently in the Neuroscience program, won first place at the Philadelphia Psychiatric Society's annual Colloquium of Scholars on April 14, 2018. Linda and colleagues Yasmin Mohabbat (psychiatry resident), Brielle R. Ferguson (former Neuroscience PhD student), and Wen-Jun Gao, PhD, professor of neurobiology and anatomy, were honored for their poster "Restoring Prefrontal Inhibition to Treat Cognitive Symptoms of Schizophrenia."

Austin Coley Receives First Ever F99/K00 Fellowship from NIH/NINDS

Austin Coley, a neurobiology PhD student in the laboratory of Wen-Jun Gao, PhD, is the recipient of the first ever F99/K00 fellowship from the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (September 2017)

Zak Brodnik Wants to Change How You Think About Addiction

As a doctoral candidate in neuroscience at Drexel University College of Medicine, Zak Brodnik's work focuses on the biology underlying drug-use disorders, and he has a message he wants to deliver alongside his research. (September 2017)

Gulf War Study Identifies an Enzyme Inhibitor to Treat Gulf War Illness Symptoms

College of Medicine researchers shed light on the neurological consequences of exposure to low-levels of nerve agents and suggest that drugs like tubacin could treat some of the toxins' neurological effects. (June 6, 2017)

2017 CURE Awardees

The following faculty members were the recipients of 2017 CURE grant awards:

  • Yan-Chun Li, PhD (investigator): Effects of GSK-3β on the Prefrontal Dopamine System
  • Veronica Tom, PhD (co-investigator): Local Delivery of Minocycline and Glypican to Promote Protection and Repair After Spinal Cord Injury

See all 2017 CURE awardees.

Picture This: Newest Microscopes Quicken the Pace of Research

For researchers at Drexel University College of Medicine, the acquisition of two new confocal microscopes provides an unprecedented view into the human body — and fresh insights into conditions such as autism, neuroinflammation, HIV-associated neurocognitive impairment, heart attacks, cancer and more. Pulse (Spring 2017)

In the Media

"V2a Cells: Searching for Optimal Therapies"
Related Faculty: Michael Lane, PhD
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Blog (June 20, 2017)

Episode 17: An Interview with Dr. Michael Lane
Related Faculty: Michael Lane, PhD
SCI Curecast (December 29, 2017)

"Raise Your Hand If You Know How Complex Raising Your Hand Is"
Related Faculty: Sergey Markin, PhD; Ilya Ribak, PhD
Evolution News & Science Today (June 27, 2017)

"The Science of Eating Disorders"
Related Faculty: Jessica Barson, PhD
(February 25, 2016)

"On Concussions, Separate Hype From Science"
Related Faculty: Ramesh Raghupathi, PhD (January 6, 2016)

"Drexel study shows how microtubules play vital role in keeping neurons on proper trajectory"
Related Faculty: Peter Baas, PhD
Medical News (May 18, 2016)

"Q&A: Dennis DePace, PhD, on Teaching Gross Anatomy"
Related Faculty: Dennis DePace, PhD
Alumni Magazine, Fall 2015

"Inside the Brain: The Wiring of Addiction"
Related Faculty: Rodrigo España, PhD; Wen-Jun Gao, PhD; Barry Waterhouse, PhD
Exel, Drexel's Research Magazine (2014)

"Bad News For Ivy Leaguers: ADHD Drugs Hurt Your Memory"
Related Faculty: Wen-Jun Gao, PhD
Time, Examiner, Fox News (May 13, 2014)

"The Gross Lab"
Related Faculty: Theresa Connors; Itzhak Fischer, PhD; Bruce Hirsch, PhD
WHYY Friday Arts (December 5, 2014)

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