Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate Initiative

2019 Postbaccalaureate scholars Raquel Miralles, Dennisha King and Yessica Santana
2019 Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate scholars Dennisha King, Raquel Miralles and Yessica Santana.


The OHSU Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate Initiative 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. 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.

Apply through the OHSU job portal beginning Jan. 1, 2020. The deadline for all application materials is at 11:59 PST on March 1st. We aim to notify all finalists by mid-march and select the incoming cohort by April 1st. Please send all questions to

  • Recent graduate from a 4-year college with no more than 36 months since graduation (graduating seniors are encouraged to apply)
  • Those that identify as an individual from an NIH historically underrepresented group in biomedical sciences (i.e., racial and ethnic groups: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, Hawaiian Natives, and natives of the U.S. Pacific Islands; documented disability; underserved background: low socioeconomic status).
    • We follow the current NIH definition of underrepresented, which are:
      • Historically underrepresented minority in science
      • Documented disability
      • Underserved background (low income or first generation)
      • Learn more here

  • Commitment to one year neuroscience laboratory research experience
  • Interest in obtaining a graduate degree (Ph.D.) in a neuroscience-related field

Eligibility FAQs

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 though 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.

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 OHSU.

A “matchmaking" system will be used to identify potential research mentors with prospective applicants based on areas of research interest. To help Scholars transition into life in Portland, they will be connected with members of the OHSU and greater Portland community to ensure they have the accommodations necessary to feel comfortable, settled, and integrated into Portland life while completing a postbac at OHSU.

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. Complete an application online. The application opens Jan. 1, 2020. At that time, you can also search the OHSU Jobs Site for REQ 2019-3355.
  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. Your references will not be contacted by the program. Please have your reference letters must be submitted electronically in PDF format directly to

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

Online applications opened Jan. 1.

The application cycle closes March 1 at 11:59 p.m. PST.

Meet our 2019 Scholars

Yessica Santana

Yessica Santana , University of California, Santa Barbara, University of Pittsburgh postbaccalaureate program
Lab: Kevin Wright

Dennisha King

Dennisha King, Agnes Scott College
Lab: Vivek Unni

Raquel Miralles

Raquel Miralles, College of William & Mary
Lab: Skyler Jackman

Alumni Scholars

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.
“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.”

Katherine Thanyamongkhonsawat is currently 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.
“Being a postbacc 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.”


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.

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Postbac scholars Yessica Santana and Dennisha King