The human brain remains one of the most complex and mysterious structures in existence. It allows us to think, remember, feel, and execute coordinated movements, and interfaces with many other systems in the body to regulate processes such as  heart rate, growth, and appetite. Unfortunately, there are over 1,000 disorders of the brain and nervous system, which result in more hospitalizations and lost productivity than any other disease group, including heart disease and cancer. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that neurological disorders affect up to one billion people worldwide.

Students entering this focus area will have an interest in reducing this neurological burden and promoting healthier nervous system function, through basic, applied, and clinical research. They will develop an understanding of the biological processes that undergird a healthy nervous system and cognitive function, the causes and mechanisms of dysregulation that lead to dysfunction, and current and evolving approaches to therapy and novel therapeutic development.

The TBMH neuroscience faculty study a range of topics, including:

  • Cellular, molecular, and cognitive development
  • Aging of the brain, nerve, and muscle
  • Plasticity, learning and memory
  • Addiction and recovery
  • Neuroimaging and neuromodulation
  • Computational neuroscience
  • Neuropsychiatric, neurodegenerative, and neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Neuroeconomics, decision-making, and social cognition
  • Injury and regeneration
Example faculty research:
Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute,  VTCRI, VTC, Warren Bickel, PhD, Professor

Dr. Warren Bickel examines decision-making processes that support dysfunctional behaviors in addiction, and seeks novel therapeutic means to repair those dysfunctional processes in order to prevent addiction and promote recovery.


Dr. Ignacio Moore

Dr. Ignacio Moore investigates endocrine mechanisms mediating behavior in a wide variety of vertebrates, with an emphasis on behavioral and hormonal responses to stress, and their influence on reproduction.


Dr. Michelle Theus

Dr. Michelle Theus examines the role of adult stem cells in repair of the brain following traumatic injury, and seeks to identify effective, safe and feasible drug targets to promote stem cell therapy following ischemic stroke and traumatic brain injuries.


In addition to the core coursework taken by all TBMH students, each student will take two intensive 4 credit TBMH courses specific to their focus areas, and at least 3 credits of free elective coursework to further develop their expertise in this area.

Required focus area-specific coursework
  • TBMH 5014 Fundamentals of Neuroscience (4 cr)
Sample free elective courses
Plan of study