Brain Sciences


UCL and NIMH announce renewed partnership

11 June 2020

UCL and the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) announced that they are renewing the Joint Doctoral Training Programme in Neuroscience partnership for another five years.


The UCL – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Joint Doctoral Training Programme in Neuroscience is an accelerated graduate programme for exceptional students in neuroscience.

The programme, established in 2008, brings together two powerhouses of neuroscience research – and allows students from the USA to conduct collaborative research between two laboratories, one at UCL and the other at the NIH campus in Maryland. Students who have already started their PhDs at UCL can also join the programme through an Advanced Scholar route.

Students are registered in the UCL Doctoral School and receive a PhD from UCL in four years or less.

Jonathan Roiser, Professor of Neuroscience and Mental Health at UCL, founder and co-director of the programme, said: “This fast-tracked programme provides a great opportunity to bring talented American students to UCL and is particularly suitable for those who already know what they want to research and can hit the ground running.”

“This is one of the only joint doctoral programmes between UCL and a US institution. Therefore it's really important in promoting collaboration across the Atlantic,” he added.

One major advantage of this joint programme is the ability for students to gain a different perspective by studying under different mentors, in different labs. It also trains the student in collaborative research from the very start of their career, as they have to act as the collaborative ‘bridge’ between the different labs and bring the studies together coherently in their thesis.

Raphael Kaplan, Associate Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who was the first student to graduate from the programme in 2013, said: “The UCL-NIH PhD programme gave me the independent research skills that I needed when setting up my own lab. Additionally, it allowed me to establish an international network of research collaborators at the onset of my PhD.”

Kyle Jasmin, who graduated in 2015 and is now a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Birkbeck, said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to undertake high-risk, high-reward brain-imaging research while building skills needed to transition to independence, such as managing complex projects and international collaborations, speaking at scientific meetings, mentoring students and navigating large organisations.”

While Kate Mills, Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon, and alumna of the programme, said she feels incredibly fortunate to have been part of the programme.

“There are few opportunities for students in the US to have four full years of funding to conduct research during their doctoral training. Through this programme I was able to dedicate more time to conducting research and participating in science outreach and communication. I also learned how to establish and maintain international collaborations, which promote replicability and diversity within a given scientific community.”

The newly secured funding for the programme goes supports the students’ stipends, fees and travel allowance.