UAB launches innovative Ph.D. program in neuroengineering

UAB’s School of Engineering and School of Medicine will offer a new Doctor of Philosophy degree program in neuroengineering, and is taking applications for fall 2021.
Written by: Grant Martin
Media contact: Yvonne Taunton

Phd thesis hardbound cover macroBeginning this fall, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is offering a unique doctoral degree program that may be the only one of its kind in the nation. The Doctor of Philosophy degree program in neuroengineering is a joint program between the UAB schools of Engineering and Medicine.

“Because of the many advantages we have at UAB with the proximity of our engineering school and medical research complex, we are able to offer a unique standalone program that you won’t find at other universities,” said School of Engineering dean Jeffrey Holmes, M.D., Ph.D. “While other Ph.D. programs offer concentrations in neuroengineering, our program spans the entire School of Engineering, allowing students with a variety of backgrounds and research interests to enter this exciting area.”

Neuroengineering is an emerging area of science, and UAB is uniquely suited to take a leading role in this field, says Selwyn Vickers, M.D., dean of the UAB School of Medicine.

“Our existing expertise in neuroscience and the wide range of collaborations between engineering and medicine give us the ability to combine diverse skillsets in novel ways,” Vickers said. 

Co-directors of the program are Gregg Janowski, Ph.D., an associate dean in the UAB School of Engineering, and Lynn Dobrunz, Ph.D., a professor of neurobiology in the UAB School of Medicine.

“Neuroengineering is the application of engineering principles and techniques to the field of neuroscience to study, restore or enhance nervous-system function,” Janowski said. “This program offers a great opportunity for students from engineering or medical backgrounds to engage in high-level interdisciplinary research in an emerging field.” 

Janowski says the ideal candidate for the program will possess a B.S., M.S. or M.D., or be enrolled in a complementary doctoral program. A bachelor’s degree in engineering is preferred; but students with closely related degrees, such as those from science fields or mathematics, will also be considered. 

“Neuroengineering doctoral candidates will work with medicine and engineering faculty to study topics such as neural prosthetics, neural networks, neural computation, advanced imaging, deep-brain stimulation and brain-computer interface,” Dobrunz said. “The advantage of having a joint program between two schools is evident when you consider the expertise of our faculty across so many fields that all touch on these different aspects of neuroscience.”

The neuroengineering Ph.D. program was approved by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees in July and had its first students transfer in this fall. The program is currently accepting applications for new students to enter in fall of 2021. 

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