UCLA-HBCU Neuroscience Pathways Program

UCLA-HBCU Neuroscience Pathways Program

The UCLA Brain Research Institute (BRI) hosted its first Virtual Undergraduate Summer Research Program. Undergraduate students enrolled in Historically Black Universities and Colleges (HBCU) and in the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) programs, participated in this 8-week virtual program consisting of career development workshop, research journal clubs, coding classes, writing skills workshop, all while conducting neuroscience research virtually under the mentorship of UCLA investigators. Video: Vidya Saravanapandian Music: from bensound.com

The UCLA-HBCU Neuroscience Pathways program is an eight-week summer enrichment program for undergraduate students that attend historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States. The program is open to any undergraduate student that majors in a natural science and is in good standing an HBCU. The goals of the program are: 1) to increase the impact on students and faculty at both HBCU partner institutions and UCLA and, 2) to incentivize quality mentorship of the interns in our UCLA host labs. We will engage in active research and teaching partnerships that accompany students before and beyond the 8-week internship at UCLA.

A group of interested students, selected jointly by the HBCU partner institutions and UCLA will be invited to spend 8 weeks at UCLA doing research in an appropriate host laboratory. The research at UCLA will be commensurate with the experience at the HBCU partner institution. We will engage in active research and teaching partnerships that accompany students before and beyond the 8-week internship at UCLA of mentorship in the lab. Interns will be mentored and trained by the faculty members who run the respective labs. Additionally, we will host one “chaperone” HBCU faculty member per year to accompany the student for the first week of the internship- which is intended to foster both scientific collaboration and quality mentoring. To incentivize graduate studies at UCLA for HBCU interns, the BRI will offer a full 5-year stipend annually for at least one student, annually, who applies for and is accepted by the NSIDP. Furthermore, we will conduct outcome studies and publish them in a peer-reviewed journal, similar to other BRI outreach efforts. In short, we will take an innovative and holistic approach by providing not only a summer opportunity but by following the student before and after through online tools.

View our 2020 Virtual Summer Research Program student posters here

Congratulations to all our 2020 poster fair winners!

First Place: Charles Smith and Harjas Sabharwal

Second Place: Cameron Jackson, Jahel Guadardo, Sonia Okekenwa and Stacy De Florencio

Third Place: Gabriel Rojas-Bowe, Tamia Carter and Tania Lugo


We will host a comprehensive virtual environment for the 2021 UCLA-HBCU Neuroscience Pathways summer research and enrichment program. We will take advantage of virtual tools to engineer a robust and rewarding research experience. These research activities include, but are not limited to: analysis of data from ongoing experiments, modeling of biological or behavioral systems, computerized coding, and a variety of other analysis tools and methods that are available in the virtual environment. During the summer research experience, host labs will train Neuroscience Pathways fellows to conduct a rigorous research project. The research program will culminate in a poster competition. Apart from conducting research, students will also be involved in activities that will enrich their summer experience. These include: writing a research paper, exploring the MD/PhD career path, learning about applying to the PhD program and funding opportunities, participating in research journal clubs, seminars and career panels, preparing abstracts and posters, and virtual visits to cultural centers in Los Angeles (e.g. California African American Museum, the California Science -Center, or the Hammer Museum/Getty Center).

The requirements for acceptance into the program include:

  • A major in natural sciences
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0
  • A letter of intent to apply for the program
  • Academic transcript
  • Personal statement (limit to 1000 words) that describes your past, present or future leadership in and commitment to research and diversity in science
  • Summary of prior research, if any (limit to 1000 words)
  • Two letters of recommendation from science faculty
  • Paragraph (500 words or less) summarizing your interest in neuroscience or physiology

In a separate file, applicants need to rank in order of preference, the top three research training areas: Neuroendocrinology, Sex Differences, and Reproduction; Neural Repair; Neural Microcircuits; Neurobehavioral Genetics; Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology; or Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology.

The program is run in conjunction with the BRISURE summer program:

  • 8-week program (Monday, June 22nd – August 14th)
  • Letters of Intent due by January 15th, 2021 and applications are due by February 19th, 2021. Please send to Dr. Ketema Paul (paul@ucla.edu)
  • To learn more about this program, please contact Dr. Ketema Paul (paul@ucla.edu) or Pat Lowe (plowe@mednet.ucla.edu)

Please click the following link to apply for the program: