Neuroscience & Neuroimmunology Research Internship


The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), Omaha, Nebr., is sponsoring one-year research internships in neuroscience and neuroimmunology for the academic year.

The internship program is administered within the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience.

These internships provide research opportunities in various aspects of neuroscience from molecular mechanisms of synaptic transmission to brain imaging of neurological disease.

Interns may also take classes in neuroscience and related disciplines without tuition or fees.  All interns must complete UNMC orientation and immunizations to be allowed to register for classes.

A 12-month stipend of $30,000 is provided to each intern. Failure to enroll in any courses will result in a reduced stipend.

Applications are accepted from September 1st-March 15th.  Applicants should use the online system and create an account. Click on Summer entry of the year you will start the internship. The internship is listed under Graduate Studies. 

Neuroscience and Neuroimmunology at UNMC

The Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience has a strong focus on the role of the immune system in neurological disorders as evidenced by the department’s housing of the editorial office of the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology and publication of the textbook Neuroimmune Pharmacology. It ranks 7th nationally in NIH funding among pharmacology departments1 (8th as a neuroscience department).

The departments of Neurological SciencesOphthalmology and Visual Sciences, and Cellular and Integrative Physiology offer students additional neuroscience and neuroimmunology research opportunities. Research here includes molecular, genetic, and physiological studies of neuro-immune interactions in neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism; functional brain imaging in neurological diseases; retina cell biology and physiology; and CNS contributions to cardiovascular disorders.

Research Programs/Opportunities

Autonomic Neuroscience

The CNS regulates the function of many organs in the body largely through the autonomic nervous system.  In various conditions such as Parkinson's, diabetes, heart failure, hypertension and stress, CNS adaptations contribute to the pathophysiology of the disease state.  Work at UNMC is focused on understanding these mechanisms so that effective therapeutic interventions can be identified.

  • The role of the CNS in cardiovascular disease (hypertension and heart failure)
  • CNS dysregulation in renal disease
  • Redox modulation in CNS control of cardiovascular disease
  • CNS dysfunction in metabolic disorders
  • Optogenetic modulation of hypothalamic neuronal function

Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience

Researchers at UNMC interested in cognition and behavior use behavioral, functional brain imaging, and electrophysiological techniques to examine brain dysfunction in disease.

  • The role of the immune system in behavior and brain aging
  • Functional brain imaging of neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders in humans
  • Motor performance and rehabilitative outcomes of children with cerebral palsy and adults with multiple sclerosis
  • Electroencephalography in rodents models of neuropsychiatric/neurological disorders
  • Molecular and cellular mechanisms of epilepsy

Biology of Drug Abuse

Addiction to alcohol, opiates, cocaine and methamphetamine is an expanding public health problem.  This problem is amplified by how abused drugs lead to or worsen many other health problems including cancer, cardiovascular, infectious diseases, and psychiatric disorders. Researchers at UNMC are working to determine the underlying molecular mechanisms by which drugs of abuse impair CNS function, manifest addiction, and worsen other diseases.

  • Effects of cocaine on HIV infection and AIDS progression
  • Effects of morphine on SIV infection in monkeys
  • Mechanisms of cocaine-induced autophagy
  • The role of micro RNA in HIV infection
  • Antibody protection against HIV infection

Biology of Neurological Disorders

Many researchers at UNMC focus on the role of the immune system in neurological diseases and in neural complications of AIDS infection.  Inflammation is a major mechanism in which the brain responds to a variety of injuries.  Whether it be AIDS, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease (AD), traumatic brain injury or Juvenile Batten Disease neurons are not always directly destroyed by the insult.  Disease can occur indirectly through glia cells by setting off a chain of biochemical events that produce toxins and inflammation that can compromise neuronal cell signaling and ultimately destroy neurons.  Substance abuse can interact with the immune system and other cellular components to worsen neurological and neuroinfectious diseases. UNMC researchers use a wide diversity of techniques and experimental approaches to solve these questions.

  • Development of nanoparticle therapeutics for treating AIDS
  • Characterization of cytokines and chemokines signaling pathways responsible for neuronal damage and neuronal protection
  • Identification of disease biomarkers in neurological diseases
  • Role of micro RNA in neurological diseases
  • Role of exosomes in neurological diseases
  • The role of macrophages in AIDS dementia
  • The role of the immune system in Parkinson's disease
  • Functional imaging of neuronal dysfunction in neurological disease
  • CNS dysregulation of the cardiovascular system in disease
  • Use of "humanized" mice (containing human immune cells and other human cells) for the study of neurological disease
  • Role of neurotransmitter receptors and potassium channels in AIDS dementia
  • Study of the mechanisms by which substance abuse (cocaine, methamphetamine, etc.) worsen neurological outcomes
  • Neuron-glia cross-talk in Juvenile Batten disease
  • Brain imaging in disease

Neurodevelopment and Neurosignaling

A central question in Neuroscience relates to how the genome and experience interact to modulate brain structure and function.  Another major question is how the molecular and cellular structure of the brain underlies brain function and brain dysfunction. For example, in a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders (e.g., epilepsy, ischemia, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia), specific neurotransmitter signaling systems appear to be dysfunctional.  Neuroscientists at UNMC use a variety of genetic, electrophysiological, anatomical, molecular, and biochemical techniques to understand these questions.

  • The role of cell signaling pathways in brain development
  • Molecular mechanisms underlying autism, schizophrenia and intellectual disability
  • Regulator mechanisms of synapse formation and synapse removal
  • Regulation of neural stem cells
  • Molecular mechanisms of neurotransmitter release
  • Glial cell regulation of neuronal activity
  • Functional brain imaging in neuropsychiatric disorders
  • Mechanisms of neuronal migration and positioning
  • Genetic basis of language and attention disorders

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Apply online

Application documents required:

Deadline:  March 15th

Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha is frequently listed in the top 10 of US cities for having a high quality of life, housing affordability, a strong economy, and an active music & art scene2. For example, CNBC ranked Omaha 2nd among Best U.S. cities for millennial college students2 and it ranks 6th among the 50 largest US cities for growth in the 18-34 age group3. Read more on Omaha’s culture in the NY Times article4.

2021 Interns

Jaron Harmon
Kellen McDonald
Mariam Mohagheghi
Rachel Poulsen
Megan Sandal
Maamoon Saleh
Raechel Tittor
Jina Yi

2020 Interns

Jake Cohen
Michael Douchey
Emily Fitzgerald
Lila Gordon
Lauren Ott
Samantha Penhale
Lubaba Zaman



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