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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

Kimberly Dougherty, PhD

Dr. Kimberly Dougherty is an associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy and has been here for five years studying rhythm generating circuitry in the spinal cord. Dr. Dougherty is an engaging young scientist who recently reached the exciting milestone of graduating her first doctoral student. Read more.

Dr. Kimberly Dougherty - Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy

Eileen Collyer, PhD

Dr. Eileen Collyer has had a colorful research journey prior to joining the department here at Drexel. After completing her PhD studies in Chile, she did her first postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Veronica Tom. Read more.

Eileen Collyer, PhD - Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy

Meet Our Students & Alumni

Victoria Spruance, PhD, Drexel Alum

Victoria Spruance, PhD
Dr. Spruance received her PhD from the department in 2017. She did her dissertation work in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Lane, where she worked on transplantation of neural progenitor cells to improve respiratory function after cervical spinal cord injury. Dr. Spruance is currently a presidential management fellow at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK, NIH). Read more.

Liang Oscar Qiang MD, PhD

Liang Oscar Qiang MD, PhD
"Firstly, I think a graduate student should make their priority their research. Your goal should be to make the best out of your research, to impress yourself and to be proud of your work. Secondly, make friends in grad school. Socialize with people, talk to people and by doing so you might get ideas about your own project. You are surrounded by scientists in grad school and there is always an opportunity to get new ideas that can lead to collaborations." Read more.

News & Announcements

Department Of Health Awards $1 Million To Spinal Cord Injury Research Grant Recipients

The Pennsylvania Department of Health awarded $1 million in grants to six recipients focused on spinal cord injury (SCI) research. The grants are part of the department’s Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) program which awards research for clinic and health services and biomedical research funded by the Tobacco Settlement funds. Read more.

2021 Golden Apple Award Winners Announced

The annual Golden Apple Awards recognize outstanding service and teaching by Drexel University College of Medicine faculty and professional staff. Each class of medical students nominate faculty and professional staff for the honor and vote to determine the award winners. Read more.

Itzhak Fischer Receives Inaugural Daniel V. Schidlow, MD, Transformational Leadership Award

The College of Medicine's Daniel V. Schidlow, MD, Transformational Leadership Award is presented to a faculty member who exhibits substantial leadership to transform and make change through example and articulates an energizing vision. This faculty member encourages, inspires, mentors and sponsors a diverse, inclusive and equitable next generation of clinicians, scientists, educators and staff. This transformational faculty leader motivates members of the institution to innovate and create change that will help grow and shape the future success of the institution. Dr. Fischer was honored at a virtual ceremony, along with other Faculty Award recipients, on December 18.

Veronica Tom Receives the Julian Marsh Faculty Scholar Award

The College of Medicine's Julian Marsh Faculty Scholar Award is presented to a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in scientific research, achieved international recognition, demonstrated outstanding teaching skills, mentored students as well as peers, and provided consistent, high-quality leadership to the medical school, creating a better environment for all faculty and students. Dr. Tom was honored at a virtual ceremony, along with other Faculty Award recipients, on December 18.

Veronica Tom Receives Provost's Award

Veronica Tom, PhD, professor of neurobiology and anatomy, received the 2020 Provost Award for Outstanding Mid-career Scholarly Achievement in recognition of her leadership, dedication and contributions in neuronal cytoskeleton and neurodegenerative disease research. Dr. Tom will receive $15,000 in support of her research.

Margo Randelman to Give Discovery Day Presentation

Margo Randelman, a neuroscience graduate student, was one of five platform presenters to be highlighted in a news article about the College of Medicine's annual day of research, Discovery Day. Read the article.

Department Hosts FBI School of Operational Medicine Training

The Federal Bureau of Investigations School of Operational Medicine (FBI-SOM) holds quarterly medical refresher training for its high-risk personnel at institutions around the country. Drexel's Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy hosted one of these training events in August. Michael Biamonte, manager of FBI-SOM, wrote a letter of appreciation after the event, noting the professionalism and expertise of the faculty and staff who assisted with the training, including:

  • Caitlin Howe
  • Haviva Goldman
  • Kathleen Ryan
  • Theresa Connors
  • Jeanine Gravatt
  • Allen Ribblett

Mr. Biamonte stated that the class was a "tremendous success," thanks to the "wonderful team of professionals serving your organization and community," and expressed his hope that his organization would have an opportunity work with the team in the future.

Breathing Free

Paralyzed patients are closer to one day breathing without a ventilator after Michael Lane, PhD, and Lyandysha Zhoudeva showed they could improve respiratory function in rodents with spinal cord injuries by successfully transplanting a special class of neural cells, called V2a interneurons. Read more.

See all Neurobiology & Anatomy news

In the Media

December 10, 2020: AWIS-PHL Honors Three College of Medicine Women

January 31, 2020: Ramesh Raghupathi, PhD, a professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, was quoted in a BBC story about differences in concussions for men and women athletes.

December 6, 2019: Ramesh Raghupathi, PhD, professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, was quoted in a MedicalXPress article about conducting research into what explains gender differences in concussion severity.

October 5, 2018: An obituary remembering Marion Murray, PhD, who co-founded Drexel’s Spinal Cord Research Center, appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Itzhak Fischer, PhD, chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, was quoted.

September 20, 2018: Jessica Barson, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, was quoted in a Philadelphia Inquirer story about the effects of alcohol on the teenage brain and how that science may inform allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

July 2, 2018: Bruce Hirsch, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, was quoted in an Artsy story that featured the New York Academy of Art’s “Advanced Artistic Anatomy” course, an intensive set of drawing classes held at Drexel’s gross anatomy lab, which allows art students to study and draw cadavers being dissected by medical students.

June 29, 2018: Peter Baas, PhD, a professor, and Liang Oscar Qiang, PhD, a research assistant professor, both in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, were quoted in a GEN News article about their recent study that found Alzheimer’s drugs targeting the tau protein may actually exacerbate the disease.

June 27, 2018: Rodrigo España, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, was quoted in a Science News story about how hypocretin, a brain chemical that regulates wakefulness and arousal, may also be involved in addiction.

June 7, 2018: Michael Lane, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, was quoted in a story in Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News about his new study that improved breathing paralysis in rats with spinal cord injuries. He was also quoted in a MedGadget story about the study.

See all College of Medicine faculty in the Media

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