Broadening Research Achievement in Neurosciences (BRAiN) for a Diverse Workforce

Undergraduate announcement: Deadline to submit applications: April 16, 2024

Program Description

Neuroscience is an area of exceptional strength at UC Irvine with the very first neuroscience department in the world founded here in 1965. The BRAiN program leverages this unique environment to increase the pool of UC Irvine undergraduates and community college students from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical neuroscience research to enter and excel in Ph.D. programs in the neurosciences and to become independent investigators and faculty role models for young underrepresented students. BRAiN participants spend two years being mentored and conducting research continuously. During their sophomore year, participants join the MSP training laboratory, which prepares them for conducting faculty-mentored research in UCI’s neuroscience laboratories. Participants also engage in advanced coursework in neuroscience, scientific writing and training in the responsible conduct of research.

Sponsored by NIH-NINDS R25NS112136



Applicants must be United States citizens or permanent residents from underrepresented groups (Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, or individuals with disabilities, or individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds as defined by NOT-OD-20-031) enrolled in an area within biological sciences, chemistry, mathematics, physics, computer sciences and biomedical engineering. Sophomore, junior and senior biology majors should have completed one year of chemistry with a grade B or better. All applicants should have a GPA of at least 3.0, however, exceptions can be made for students showing an upward trend in their grades.

Research Training Areas

Students participating in the BRAiN program receive training in neuroscience research. BRAiN scholars may choose to participate in research experiences provided directly by the BRAiN program or they may choose their research advisor among faculty in the Charlie Dunlop School of Biological Sciences or College of Medicine that are conducting basic (non-clinical) research in neurosciences.

Research areas include:

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Neurobiology
  • Stem Cell
  • Among other areas related to neurosciences

Benefits, Responsibilities, and Timetable

The BRAiN program provides academic preparation and financial support as apprentice scientists in UC Irvine laboratory to gain laboratory skills and research experience.

BRAiN is an exciting and challenging academic experience. Selected participants receive the following benefits:

  • Mentoring and guidance by MSP program directors, UC Irvine faculty, graduate students and senior undergraduates pursuing neuroscience research careers
  • Introduction to laboratories in the UC Irvine Charlie Dunlop School of Biological Sciences and School of Medicine
  • Academic and career advisement
  • Financial compensation as full-time employees in the summer and part-time during the academic year
  • Faculty seminar series where speakers share their experiences pursuing careers as independent investigators
  • Training in responsible conduct of research and quantitative skills
  • Financial support to present research findings at national conferences
  • Career planning and guidance to apply to research doctorate programs
  • Visits to graduate programs institutions

Fellows are expected to participate in all BRAiN activities designed for their level, including faculty seminars, laboratory workshops, tutoring, journal club, scientific communications workshops, local and national conferences, graduate school guidance and career and academic advisement. Bio Sci 194S Safety and Ethics course is mandatory prior to engaging in research training at UCI. Beginning in the sophomore year, BRAiN fellows are expected to enroll in the MSP Seminar Series (Bio 197) and continue during their participation in the program.

Program Directors

Dr. Luis Mota-Bravo

Dr. Luis Mota-Bravo
Director of Outreach
Research Training and Minority Science Programs (MSP)

Dr. Marlene De La Cruz

Dr. Marlene de la Cruz
Director of Student Academic Development
Minority Science Programs (MSP)

Dr. Marcelo A. Wood

Dr. Marcelo A. Wood
 Chair of the Department of Neurobiology
and Behavior

You may download the linked 2024-BRAiN Application which contains the BRAiN Application Form and Statement of Purpose Form


For additional information about BRAiN please contact:

Dr. Marlene de la Cruz
Director Academic Student Development
Outreach Research Training Minority Science Programs
University of California, Irvine
1134 Biological Sciences III
Irvine, CA 92697-2527
Ph: (949) 824-2589
Fax: (949) 824-6599