Mission and Values

The Behavioral and Integrative Neuroscience Program’s primary focus is to understand the biological basis of behavior. A central research theme is to understand biological mechanisms underlying drug addiction, including neural mechanisms mediating drug-seeking behaviors, pharmacological mechanisms underlying the analegesic and rewarding properties of abused substances, and the effects of abused substances on the immune system. In this regard, faculty conduct research using state-of-the-art experimental approaches including sophisticated behavioral assays, molecular and cell biology techniques, neuroimaging, electrophysiology, electrochemistry, and molecular genetic tools. All of our primary faculty hold secondary appointments with the UNC Curriculum in Neurobiology. Our research is often interdisciplinary, with faculty members maintaining research collaborations across the University including the Departments of Chemistry and Physics, the School of Dentistry, and the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies.

We are committed to excellence in graduate training. Students in our program receive training in the conceptual and empirical areas necessary to work on the biological basis of behavior. Students learn to integrate advanced techniques in biological and neurobiological analysis with equally advanced behavioral techniques. Research forms the core of the program and is a central part of the curriculum from the first year until the completion of the degree. The Behavioral and Integrative Neuroscience program is designed to strike a balance between course work, research, and teaching experiences.

The training program leading to the Ph.D. is designed to promote competency in areas that are critical for a career in research. Our faculty believe that we have a responsibility to train doctoral students, not only as scholars and research scientists, but also as teachers. The teaching experience is rewarding and important, not only in anticipation of future career goals, but also as relevant training in communication skills that will play a continuing role in their scientific work.

Our success in acquiring external funding has also translated into success for its graduate students with about 75% of our advanced students securing their own research support from federal sources. Most importantly, our graduate and postdoctoral students have been highly successful, publishing in high-quality, peer-reviewed scientific journals, presenting their data at scientific conferences, and obtaining research-related jobs in academia and industry.