Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Alumni from the Doctoral Programme in Neuroscience

The 4-year Programme in Oxford was a springboard for my scientific career, because it gave me the freedom to try out different approaches, and shaped my thinking about science. In my opinion, the 4-year programme in Oxford is one of the most prestigious neuroscience PhD programmes in the world

Prof. Tom Mrsic-Flogel (1996-2000)


The doctoral programme in Neuroscience has been running since 1996 and 114 students have now successfully graduated.  Following completion, more than 65% of students have remained in academia as post-doctoral researcher scientists, either securing prestigious personal fellowships or positions on a grant. Only 5% opted to leave science altogether.




Many of our graduates are now in tenured academic positions and several hold full professorships. Between 10 and 13 years after graduating from the programme, less than 10% have left science altogether and nearly 60% remain in academia.


Comments from some of our alumni…

 I was a student in the first year of the Wellcome Trust funded PhD Neuroscience Programme at Oxford. Upon completion of my PhD, I was awarded a Wellcome Trust International Fellowship to conduct postdoctoral research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, where I examined synaptic circuit development and plasticity. In 2005 I returned to the UK and was awarded an RCUK Academic Research Fellowship and I started my own lab at Oxford University in 2007. I am convinced that being exposed to a wide range of techniques and ideas during the Wellcome Trust Doctoeal programme in Neuroscience encouraged me to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to studying synaptic circuit development.”

Dr Colin Akerman (1996-2000)

Undergraduate: Psychology, University of Edinburgh

Current position: University Professor University of Oxford


 “Following completion of my DPhil, I did two post-docs at the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, King’s College London.  In 2005 I was awarded an RCUK Fellowship in Clinical Neuroscience and Molecular Biology at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth to set up my own group.  I have remained there since, becoming a senior lecturer in the University of Exeter in 2011.

In 2005 I founded ‘Men in White’ a public engagement scheme which works with schools across Devon and Cornwall to widen participation in science and as a result of my work in this area I was recently recognised as a ‘Champion’ for Public Engagement as part of the Catalyst program run by the Research Councils

The Wellcome Neuroscience program was invaluable in giving me the opportunity to experience the full breadth of neuroscience in theory and practice so that I could make an informed choice of PhD project.”

Dr John Chilton (1996-2000)

Undergraduate: Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge

Current position: Senior lecturer, Exeter Medical School


 “For my PhD thesis, I studied how the mammalian auditory cortex processes the spatial content of sounds, under the supervision of Andrew King. I then moved to Munich to carry out postdoctoral research at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, where I applied imaging methods to study the structure, function and plasticity of the mammalian visual system. In 2007, I started an independent research group at University College London (UCL), supported by the Wellcome Trust’s Research Career Development Fellowship and later by the Senior Research Fellowship. I have recently accepted a Professorship at University of Basel, where I will move later this year (2013). My main scientific focus is to uncover the circuit mechanisms of sensory processing.

During the 4-year PhD programme in Oxford, I was exposed to a diversity of neuroscientific fields and methodologies. Specifically, practical classes and lab rotations gave me the chance to explore different labs with different approaches (from molecular to systems/behaviour), which shaped my thinking not only about the kind of research I wish to do but also about the type of scientist I wish to become. The interactive nature of PhD programme also enabled me to form long-lasting scientific bonds my course-mates, as exemplified by the collaboration I recently started with Colin Akerman (also entry year 1996).”

Professor Tom Mrsic-Flogel (1996-2000)

Undergraduate: Biological Sciences, University of Oxford

Current position: Professor, Director of Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, London


 “Since completing the Wellcome Neuroscience programme at Oxford, I was awarded a Sir Henry Wellcome Post-doctoral Fellowship in 2010, moving initially to Caltech, USA, to follow up my DPhil work using computational approaches from behavioral economics to investigate the neural basis of reward-guided learning and decision-making in dynamic and uncertain environments. I have now moved back to Oxford and to UCL to train in Bayesian and neuroimaging techniques to further investigate the neural basis of reward-guided learning and decision-making.

The Wellcome Neuroscience programme at Oxford afforded me the opportunity to train with some of the leading scientists in my field and to benefit from a truly interdisciplinary community. These experiences have fundamentally shaped my approach to research today.”

Dr Erie Boorman (2005-2009)

Undergraduate: Psychology, Stanford University

Current position: Associate Professor, UC Davis, US


 “I arrived at Oxford with very little background in Psychology or Cognitive Neuroscience, convinced (from my undergraduate studies) that I was only prepared for studying neuroscience at a cellular and molecular level. The MSc year allowed me to explore different areas in Neuroscience, and in particular do a rotation with Tim Behrens and Matthew Rushworth (which ended up forming the basis of the first year of my PhD, and was ultimately published in Nature).

The MSc was a very valuable experience in so many ways. Experiencing how research is conducted across two different labs was a real eye-opener, and the insights I gained helped me to choose a PhD in a lab that was a good fit. The MSc projects also gave me the chance to work closely with supervisors who were world-leading experts in their field. I was also lucky enough to be included as a co-author on publications arising from my projects, which definitely helped to boost my CV at the start of my career.

I truly believe that the MSc in Neuroscience opened the door to many of these opportunities I have been fortunate to have been given. The teaching is great, the research opportunities endless and, most of all, it is an incredibly fun course! You will make friends you will keep for life.”

Dr Laurence Hunt (2006-2010)

Undergraduate: Pre-Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge

Current position: Associate Professor, Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford


“The 4-year DPhil was an amazing experience! I’ve learned and developed so much, both from a personal and scientific point of view. The first year offers a broad training in neuroscience and gives you the possibility to choose and pursue the questions and projects that fascinate you most for your DPhil. I am now committed to pursuing an academic career and for the next 3 years I’m going to continue in Oxford as a Junior Research Fellow in Medical Sciences at University College Oxford.”

Dr Andrei-Sorin Ilie (2008-2012)

Undergraduate: Medicine, Bucharest

Current position: Academic Clinical Fellow in Neurology, Newcastle