Neuroscience Post-Baccalaureate Initiative (NPBI)

NPBI scholars Nina Luong and Allison Taylor from the 2021 cohort
2020-2021 Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate scholars Nina Luong & Allison Taylor

What is the OHSU NPBI?

The OHSU Neuroscience Post-Baccalaureate Initiative (NPBI) is a one-year research opportunity for recent college graduates. The program is a collaborative effort between the Department of Behavioral NeuroscienceVollum Institute, and OHSU Research & Innovation, and is aimed at providing sustained research experience and skills development for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds (see "Who should apply?" below for more details). Scholars accepted as part of this competitive training opportunity will receive a mentored research experience as well as tailored support around academic and professional development.

Interested individuals can apply online beginning January 1 of each year. The deadline for all application materials has been extended to 11:59 PST on March 15. We will aim to notify all finalists by the end of the month and select the incoming cohort by mid-April. If you have already submitted your application and would like to made edits or updates, you can email us to request that. Please send all questions to

Individuals who are eligible to apply must meet all four of the following criteria: 

  • Recent graduate from a 4-year college with no more than 36 months since graduation (graduating seniors are encouraged to apply)
  • Identify as a member of an individual a historically underrepresented group in biomedical sciences. We follow the current NIH definition (please click the link for more details) which includes:
    • Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups
    • Individuals with disabilities
    • Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Willing to commit to one year neuroscience laboratory research experience
  • Interested in obtaining a graduate degree (Ph.D.) in a neuroscience-related field

If you have questions about whether or not you are eligible, please email us at!

Frequently asked eligibility questions

I am an International student studying in the U.S. Am I eligible to apply?

Foreign national students are welcome to apply and you are eligible if you come from an underserved (low income or first generation) background. One caveat is that if you are on a visa, you will need to work with the university that you currently attend to apply for an Optional Practical Training (OPT) to extend it. We anticipate announcing the selected scholars by mid-March which should provide enough time to apply (approval can take up to 3 months).

I am interested in pursuing an M.D. or dual degree (Ph.D. + another), am I eligible?

At this time the postbac training opportunity is designed to provide experiences specifically targeting interest in a research career in biomedical sciences. As such, priority is given to applicants who are pursuing a Ph.D. In the future, we hope to extend this training to individuals interested in going to medical school and taking the clinician-scientist career path. If you are open to considering a strictly Ph.D. graduate program, please browse our research faculty profiles to determine best fit.

Are women considered an underrepresented group that is eligible to apply? 
This program is tailored to people who identify as part of a group that has been historically underrepresented in science, which includes people from minoritized racial and ethnic backgrounds, people with disabilities, and people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds At the postbaccalaureate level, this category does not include women. While the NIH includes women as one of its underrepresented categories, they recommend including women for faculty-level initiatives and programs. 

Accepted Scholars receive a competitive research assistant salary and health benefits, mentorship from faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and current graduate students, as well as a strong letter of recommendation from a research mentor and the head of the OHSU graduate studies programs.

A “matchmaking" system will be used to identify potential research mentors with prospective applicants based on areas of research interest. To help post-baccalaureate scholars transition into life in Portland, they will have opportunities to build supportive relationships with people at OHSU and throughout Portland in order to help them feel comfortable, settled, and connected to the local community.

Related resource: Visiting and living in Portland

Summer term

  • New Scholar Orientation
  • Weekly “Growth Sessions” - Academic Culture
  • Lab Rotations 2x2 weeks

Fall term

  • Neuroscience boot-camp and retreats
  • Weekly “Growth Sessions” - Grad Application Prep
  • Neuroscience Seminar Course (for first year grad students)
  • The Practice & Ethics of Science Course

Winter term

  • Submit graduate program application(s)
  • Weekly “Growth Sessions” - Research Methods
  • Neuroscience Seminar Course (for first year grad students)

Spring term

  • Graduate program interview(s)
  • Weekly “Growth Sessions” – Professional/Scientific Identity
  • Neuroscience Seminar Course (for first year grad students)
  • Research Week presentation
  • Completion of Research Paper


  • Regular Meetings with Mentors
  • Professional Networking
  • Events with scholars from diverse backgrounds at OHSU/Portland area

The Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate Initiative has many participating faculty across departments and domains. During your application you will be asked to specify 3-5 research faculty that interest you. These names will be used for the mentor-matching process of selected scholars. Click the name for a link to the faculty profile/lab page. If there is someone of interest to you that is not on the list, please let us know by emailing us at You can find out about additional OHSU researchers using this website.

Alejandro Aballay Lab
Isabelle Baconguis Lab
Peter Barr-Gillespie Lab
John Brigande Lab
Michael Cohen Lab
Philip Copenhaver Lab
Raina Croff Lab
Stephen David Lab
Marc Freeman Lab
Eric Gouaux Lab
Beth Habecker Lab
Mary Heinricher Lab
Susan Ingram Lab
Skyler Jackman Lab
Matt Lattal Lab
Mary Logan Lab
Gail Mandel Lab
Tianyi Mao Lab
Ian Martin Lab
Jodi McBride Lab
Claudio Mello Lab
Anusha Mishra Lab
Suzanne Mitchell Lab
Kelly Monk Lab
Sweta Murthy Lab
Angelica Morales Lab
Bonnie Nagel Lab
Brian O’Roak Lab
Angela Ozburn Lab
Joseph Quinn Lab
Jacob Raber Lab
Lina Reiss Lab
Andrey Ryabinin Lab
Eric Schnell Lab
Laurence Trussell Lab
Vivek Unni Lab
Henrique von Gersdorff Lab
Gary Westbrook Lab
Marina Wolf Lab
Kevin Wright Lab

All of the following materials will be required by the deadline to complete your application:

  1. Submit all of your documents and complete an application form online via Competitive Application Portal (CAP), powered by InfoReady. If you have any questions, email The application opens on January 1.
  2. Upload the following documents to your online application:
    1. One document (1 page max) that includes a short personal statement, including your interest in pursuing a neuroscience career and your research experience to date. 
    2. A PDF of your results for a completed online IDP assessment:
    3. A current curriculum vitae or resume.
    4. Copy of your unofficial transcripts submitted electronically in PDF format.
  3. Two letters of reference from people acquainted with your work. One reference letter should be from a faculty research mentor. You will need to enter the email addresses of your two recommenders and they will be contacted by the program directly. All elements of this application must be submitted by 11:59pm PST on March 15, 2021, including the letters of recommendation. The submission link for your letters of recommendation will not be sent to the recommenders until you submit the whole application, so please be sure to complete the application well ahead of the deadline to give your recommenders adequate time to submit their letters.

You should also be prepared in your application to provide information about other work experience and what you hope to gain from doing NPBI, as well as the names of 3-5 faculty that you would like to work with from our list of participating faculty.

You will be able to save your application and return to it at a later date if you do not want to fill it all out in one sitting

Online applications open on January 1.

All elements of this application must be submitted by 11:59pm PST on March 15, 2021. This includes the letters of recommendation. Your recommenders will receive a link to submit their letters of recommendation via the portal. Please be prepared to follow up with your recommenders to ensure that they have been able to submit their letters

Have there been any changes to the program because of COVID-19? 
OHSU has implemented modified operations, so the number of people allowed in lab spaces is limited. Because work is being done remotely as much as possible, we want to make sure that NPBI scholars will be able to gain the research experiences they are looking for if they are selected. As a result, we’ve built in more conversations during the process of selecting finalists about what their research experience has been and what gaps they are looking to fill so we can place them with a lab that will meet their needs. Other than that, the program will look largely the same but with mostly virtual meetings. We will still be selecting 2-3 scholars. 

Meet our current scholars

Nina Luong, 2020 NPBI Scholar

Nina Luong is working in the lab of Dr. Kevin Wright. She attended the University of Oregon and majored in Human Physiology. You can reach out to Nina by email.

Allison Taylor, NPBI Scholar 2019-2020

Allison Taylor is working in the lab of Dr. Kelly Monk. She attended the University of North Texas and majored in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Spanish. You can reach out to Alli by email.

Meet our alumni scholars

Dennisha King wearing a polka dotted shirt

Dennisha King is a neuroscience graduate student at the University of Rochester. She obtained her Bachelor's of Science degree in Neuroscience and Public Health from Agnes Scott College in 2019. During her time as a postbaccalaureate scholar at OHSU (2019-2020), she was a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Vivek Unni studying the protein alpha synuclein and its DNA interactions. Dennisha plans to continue practicing translational neuroscience research. You can reach out to Dennisha by email.

Raquel Miralles wearing a black polka dotted shirt

Raquel Miralles - Professional bio coming soon

Yessica Santana wearing a navy blue shirt

Yessica Santana is a neuroscience graduate student at Oregon Health & Science University. She obtained her degree in Global Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2017. During her time as a postbaccalaureate scholar at OHSU (2019-2020), she investigated the role of a particular transcription factor in the specification and morphological maintenance of the starburst amacrine cell in the lab of Dr. Kevin Wright. Yessica plans to continue her post-bacc project in her graduate years while simultaneously participating in ways to broaden access to scientific research for URMs. You can reach out to Yessica by email.

Rachel De La Torre

Rachel De La Torre is a neuroscience graduate student at Oregon Health & Science University. She obtained her B.S. in Microbiology/Molecular Biology from Portland State University in 2015. During her time as a postbaccalaureate scholar at OHSU (2018-2019), she studied the mechanisms used by astrocytes to remodel the nervous system in the lab of Dr. Marc Freeman. Rachel plans to lead her own research as an independent investigator studying healthy and diseased brains with an ultimate goal of influencing policies related to neurological diseases. You can reach out to Rachel by email.

Katherine Thanyamongkhonsawat

Katherine Thanyamongkhonsawat is a neuroscience graduate student at Duke University. She obtained her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering (minor in Neuroscience) from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2018. During her time as a postbaccalaureate scholar at OHSU (2018-2019), she studied synaptic transmission in AII amacrine cells of the retina in the lab of Dr. Henrique Von Gersdorff. Katherine plans to continue investigating sensory systems by decoding their circuit.


Graduates of Postbac Initiative to begin neuroscience graduate programs

June, 12, 2020 — Scholars in the second cohort of initiative have all been accepted to neuroscience graduate programs. Their readiness for graduate school is a significant measure of success for the initiative.

"The mentored post-bacc training at OHSU was for helpful for me in understanding how to gain admission to and ultimately succeed in graduate school. For URM and first-generation students, programs like these are helpful because they inform of you of the academic landscape, help develop your academic interests and allow you to better communicate your strengths and contributions for graduate applications."

- Rachel De La Torre, NPBI Alumni, 2018

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"Being a post-bacc at OHSU is great because you are allowed to absorb the science. As a technician there’s no guarantee that you won’t just do lab chores. Doing a project in a setting of all graduate students (there is no undergraduate student body) is a very helpful experience and the emphasis on the mentor/mentee relationship is also really nice."

- Katherine Thanyamongkhonsawat, NPBI Alumni, 2018
Neuroscience Post-Baccalaureate Initiative
Neuroscience Post-Baccalaureate Initiative details (click flyer to expand/see more)