PhD in Neuroscience

Modern Neuroscience aims at understanding how nervous systems are built to generate emotions, cognition and complex behavior, and how they react to pathological processes and therapeutic interventions. It springs from a multidisciplinary convergence of fields, from Physics to Psychiatry, and is fueled by an explosion of new methods and technologies.

The UAM PhD Program in Neuroscience was established in 1985. To date, it has trained over 400 PhD graduates, most of which have gone on to develop successful careers in Academia, Health & Research Institutions or Biomedical Industry, around the world.

Why the UAM for a PhD in Neuroscience?

World-class researchers committed to graduate student training

The Program is organized and run by professional researchers from the UAM Department of Anatomy, Histology & Neuroscience and from the “Santiago Ramón y Cajal” Institute of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Researchers from other UAM, Alcalá University and National Open University (UNED) departments or CSIC institutes participate as well. The Program laboratories offer a wide array of state-of-the-art neuroscientific methods along with a tradition of scientific integrity and commitment to mentoring young researchers.

Beyond the Thesis

The UAM Program is linked to the 90 ECTS Master’s Degree in Neuroscience. In addition, UAM offers optional postgraduate courses in biochemistry, human anatomy, embryology, cell and molecular biology, pharmacology and psychology. Thus, in addition to the specific training immediately applicable to the Thesis project, Ph.D. students may expand their horizons in Neuroscience and related fields.

In Cajal’s Madrid!

For neuroscientists, the city of Madrid is inextricably linked to the figure of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the founder of modern Neuroscience and Nobel Prize Winner. Cajal lectured and researched in Madrid for almost 40 years, launching a tradition of scientific excellence in Neuroscience which the UAM Program is proud to carry on into the 21st century.

A large, cosmopolitan European capital, Madrid boasts world-class museums, a major airport hub, outstanding public transport, and 11 Universities and numerous research institutes, combined with the charm, vibrant cultural and street life, and food quality you may expect from a historic Mediterranean city. In addition, Madrid’s sunny weather, large public parks and the nearby Sierra de Guadarrama offer countless opportunities for leisure and outdoor activities.

The Thesis is expected to entail full time dedication, and to be finished in 3+1 years (a justified request for the additional year must be directed to the Academic Board). Under certain circumstances a part time dedication may be authorized by the Board, in which case the Tesis must be finished in 5+2 years.

Applications are received throughout the year, with the exception of the periods of matriculation. Upon positive review by the Board, the student will be admitted. Matriculation and fee payment in the UAM are carried out three times during the year.

UAM students (current and past) should use their SIGMA account (do not register again!). New users must register in order to proceed with the application. Personal information requested will be treated confidentially, but be aware that this web site has no special security measures, and the UAM cannot accept any responsibility for misuse of this information.

The applicant should follow the instruction for online submission at this link. If you are coming from a country outside the European Union or the European Economic Space, or your academic documents are written in a language other than Spanish, English, French, Italian or Portuguese, you are required to submit a legalized and officially translated version of them.

Once the UAM validates the documents received, the candidate must present a statement in writing from a PhD Researcher/Professor accepting to supervise the student, that also includes an outline of the hypothesis, objectives and methods of the proposed Thesis, and indicates the facilities where the Thesis will be initiated and the expected funding of the candidate. The Academic Board will review the proposal and either approve it or request a personal interview.

If the Supervisor is chosen among the members affiliated to the Program, that person will hold as well the role of Tutor. Otherwise, the Board will appoint a Tutor who will be the link between the PhD student and Supervisor, and the Board.

In support of his/her application, the candidate has the chance to submit up to two recommendation letters.

All these documents must carry original signatures, and are to be mailed or delivered to the Secretariat of the Program.

Depending on the previous training and the Objectives and Methodology proposed for the Thesis, the Commission may require the PhD student to enroll in a Training Supplement, which must be selected from among the courses included in the various Master's programs of the UAM, including the Master in Neuroscience. Depending on the number and extent of these courses, the PhD candidate must enroll in a module of 6, 12, 18 or 24 ECTS credits. This decision will be taken by the Academic Committee after hearing the candidate and the proposed Tutor and / or Director of the Thesis.

Usually, this activity will not be required for those PhD students who have recently completed the Master in Neuroscience at the UAM and whose training experience is reasonably consistent with the proposed thesis.

The UAM will inform the candidate of his/her admission. Matriculation in the UAM are carried out three times during the year: June 8-29, 2018; October 23 – November 12, 2018; and February 8-28, 2019. The matriculation implies the payment of tuition and fees, which also includes the charges for training complements, in case they have been required.

The matriculation in the PhD Program (identified as “TUTELA PRIMER AÑO”) starts the first annual period of the Thesis. The student is given access to the interactive platform SIGMA, where he/she will enter data and documents describing his/her Thesis-related activities. The Supervisor and the Tutor also have access to supervise the student’s progress.

Upon matriculation in the Program, within 3 months the Board will inform the UAM of the Supervisor(s) designated, and within 4 months the student will upload to SIGMA the Initial Research Plan, which should be approved by the Supervisor and sanctioned by the Board, and fill up the Document of Commitment, which should be read and signed by the student and his/her Supervisor and Tutor, and forwarded to the Board for further approval. Henceforth, the student will register in SIGMA the PhD Student Activity Form [Documento de actividades del Doctorando (DAD)]. By the end of the year, the student and the Director will produce an annual report each.

In the following years, on the days stipulated by the UAM, the student will matriculate to “TUTELA SEGUNDO AÑO”, “TUTELA TERCER AÑO”, and the following annual periods in case of approved extensions. As in the first year, the student is expected to enter data and documents in the DAD along the year, and write an annual report; the Supervisor will review and approve the student’s performance, and will produce his/her own annual reports.

It is a function of the Board to nominate the Thesis Supervisor, which will be done at the earliest after the student has completed his/her enrollment requisites. The Supervisor can propose the appointment of a Co-supervisor, subject to the Board's approval. In general, the Co-supervisor has to meet either of these conditions: lack of prior experience as a sole PhD Thesis Supervisor, or specific expertise, skills or knowledge relevant for a Thesis encompassing a variety of disciplines which could reasonably exceed the scope of a single Supervisor. Special situations of co-supervision and co-tutorship are considered in case of International Doctorates.

In the process of validating the admission, the Board will appoint a Tutor among the researchers affiliated to the Program. If different from the proposed Supervisor (when the latter is not affiliated to the Program), the Tutor will be a link between the Supervisor and the student, and the Academic Board, and will be responsible for overseeing the academic progress of the student through the ad hoc telematic systems of the University.

Once the Initial Research Plan is uploaded in SIGMA and okayed by the Supervisor (and, eventually, the Tutor), the Board will review it and decide whether to approve it or return it for major revision.

Upon approval of the Initial Research Plan by the Board, the student will register in SIGMA the PhD Student Activity Form [Documento de actividades del Doctorando (DAD)]. On this form the student will upload reports of his/her Thesis-related works, attaching any pertaining document. Examples of evaluable activities: attendance to seminars or courses, research stays if different laboratories, scientific communications, publications (the student must be first author in at least one Thesis-related original paper in a Q1/Q2 journal before presenting his/her Thesis), etc. This material is to be revised and, if appropriate, authorized by the Supervisor using the same SIGMA platform. Also, with the annual schedule established by the UAM, the Board will examine and assess the DAD.

By the end of each annual period, according to the schedule established by the UAM, the student will write an Annual Report, summarizing the work done and the results obtained in that period.

Likewise, the Director (and, if applicable, the Co-supervisor and the Tutor) will prepare a separate report on the results reported and other aspects of the Thesis progress.

These reports will be uploaded to SIGMA and then evaluated by the Board.

Templates for these reports, and information on deadlines may be found at: Seguimiento y Evaluación anual de los Estudios de Doctorado. Documentos y Plazos

On the final year, and between 4 and 6 months before submitting the Thesis, the student will present a summary of the Thesis in an open Seminar in a designated space of the UAM campus. In addition to answering questions from the public, the student will be examined by two faculty members appointed by the Academic Board, after consultation with the student and the Thesis Supervisor. These members should have received at least 3 weeks before a copy of the advanced draft of the Thesis in electronic format. Their criticisms and recommendations should be followed by the student to revise the Thesis and, if deemed necessary, postpone its presentation.

The appointed faculty will eventually be proposed to the UAM to be part of the Dissertation's Committee.

The Title of "Doctor" (PhD) will be accredited as "International Doctor" under the following circumstances:

  1. The student should have conducted research related to his/her Thesis in a foreign center at least during a three-month stage or internship. This activity must count with the Board's prior approval.
  2. Had the stay taken place in any non-Spanish speaking country, or if any of the expected foreign reviewers (see below) were non-Spanish speaking, the Thesis (or, at the very least, its Summary and Conclusions) should be written in English.
  3. In any case, the Thesis should include a Spanish version of the Summary and the Conclusions.
  4. Before its defense, the Thesis must be revised by two experts from foreign higher education or research centers.
  5. The Jury, or Dissertation's Committee, will include one or two experts from foreign institutions as members, who cannot be the doctor responsible for supervising the student during his/her stay abroad.
  6. The defense of the Thesis will take place in the UAM.
  7. The student will request the qualification of "International Doctor" and submit the supporting documents to the UAM together with the presentation of the Thesis for its defense.

The UAM may establish Joint PhD Programs or Co-tutorships with foreign Universities or Institutions of Higher Education, which will be regulated by specific agreements. These agreements will regulate the implementation of Doctoral Theses in Co-tutorship, leading to the obtention of the title of Doctor (PhD) by each of the Institutions involved. At present, the UAM PhD Program in Neuroscience is a full partner of the International PhD Program signed by Universities of Lisbon, Madrid, Rome and Crete.

The student should matriculate in the UAM every year according to the general protocol. However, tuition and fees will be paid only in one of the Institutions, as established in the agreement. Likewise, the Thesis defense will take place in the Institution determined in the agreement.

In accord with the Supervisor and the Program Board, the student can opt for preparing and presenting his/her Thesis as a compendium of at least 3 papers, either already published or accepted for publication after the approval of his/her Initial Research Plan and before the Thesis defense. The papers should preferably be original articles published in peer-reviewed journals, or chapters in books of justifiable relevance. In some cases, reviews and other published material may be included, as long as the student appears as first author and the publication is approved by the Board.

If under this format, the Thesis should include:

  1. A general introduction that summarizes the published material included, justifies the subject chosen, the hypothesis and the objectives, and explains the original contributions of the student.
  2. A summary of the results, a concise discussion, and the conclusions.
  3. A full copy of the material, published or in press, contributed by the author to the Thesis.

The documents required for the public defense of the Thesis have to be presented at the UAM Registrar's Office. The schedule to defend the Theses is determined for each academic year.

Once a month (except August) the UAM Doctorate Board evaluates and eventually approves the Dissertations Committees proposed. After a minimum period of two weeks, the President of an approved Commission will call the public act of Thesis defense, the Secretary of the Committee will fill a specific form for dissemination through the web, and the student will pay the corresponding fees (check "Examen para tesis doctoral" in Área de Descargas, document “Otros Precios públicos”). After the defense and approval of the Thesis, the new doctor should fill on-line the form TESEO, for the Ministry of Education.

[For more details, please check this document]

President - Committee for Postgraduate Studies
Lucía Prensa, phD
Coordinator - Master in Neuroscience
Lucía Prensa, phD
Coordinator - PhD in Neuroscience
Carlos Avendaño, phD
María Teresa Moreno, phD
Luis Miguel García Segura, phD
Antonio Guillamón, phD
María López de Ceballos, phD
Pedro de la Villa Polo, phD


Basilio Cáceres
Secretaría del Departamento de Anatomía, Histología y Neurociencia
Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
C/ Arzobispo Morcillo 4, 28029 Madrid (España)
Tel: +34 91 497 7573

Carlos Avendaño, Pilar Negredo
Mechanisms of somatosensory plasticity in the nervous system of adult rodents.
Carmen Cavada Martínez, Miguel A. Sánchez González
Aminergic innervation of the human and non-human primate brain in control conditions and in a model of parkinsonism in macaques.
Francisco Clascá
Microarchitecture and connectomics of thalamocortical axonal networks.
Isabel de Andrés, Miguel Garzón
Neural mechanisms of the various states of the sleep-wakefulness cycle.
David Fernández-Sevilla
Regulatory mechanisms of synaptic plasticity.
Miguel Garzón
The hypocretinergic (orexinergic) system and its role in narcolepsy.
Ultrastructural bases of reward and addiction in the mesocorticolimbic circuit.
Ángel Núñez
Somatosensory processing and cholinergic modulation.
Mar Pérez
Neurodegeneration. Studies of tau protein in neurodegenerative diseases.
Lucía Prensa Sepúlveda
Efferent connections of single neurons in nuclei of the ventral tegmental area in rodents.
Estrella Rausell
Analysis of movement in humans with neurodegenerative diseases.
Margarita L. Rodrigo-Angulo
Anatomofunctional relationships of the basal prosencephalon and sensory cortical areas.
José Pablo Rubio
Thalamocortical connections in primates.
M. Ángeles Arévalo Arévalo
Role of Neurogenin3 in the development of hippocampal neurons.
Role of Neurogenin3 in neuroinflammation induced by obesity.
Mariano S. Carrión Vázquez
Molecular bases of pathological amyloidogenesis: identification of key conformations as new therapeutic targets in neurodegenerative diseases.
Molecular bases of functional amyloidogenesis: structural/functional analysis of a key prionoid for memory consolidation.
Juan A. de Carlos Segovia
Embryonic development of the telencephalon
Javier de Felipe Oroquieta, Ruth Benavides-Piccione, Alberto Muñoz Céspedes
Microorganization of the normal cerebral cortex and disordes of the cortical circuits.
José M. Frade López
Mechanisms of cell proliferation, cell cycle exit and differentiation in neurogenesis.
Dysregulation of these mechanisms in neurodegenerative disorders.
Luis M. García Segura
Mechanisms of neuroactive steroids in neurons and glia.
Neuroprotective properties of gonadal hormones.
Juan J. Garrido Jurado
Regulation of axonal formation and growth.
María López de Ceballos
Neuropharmacology in neurodegenerative diseases.
Laura López Mascaraque
Tracing the progeny of individual progenitor cells in mouse brain.
Ricardo Martínez Murillo
Nitric oxide and adrenomedullin in normal and pathological nervous system: brain ischemia and brain tumor progression.
Rosario Moratalla Villalba
Dopaminergic receptors and the neurobiology of basal ganglia.
Gertrudis Perea
Involvement of astrocytes in neuronal physiology and different nervous system pathologies.
Adolfo Toledano Gasca
Amyloid and non-amyloid peripheral biomarkers in Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.
Carlos Vicario Abejón
Neurogenesis in embryonic and adult brain. Effects of BDNF and IGF-1.
Antonio Cuadrado
Transcription factor Nrf2-based strategies of brain protection.
Isabel Lastres-Becker
Molecular bases of Parkinson and Alzheimer diseases: oxidative stress, inflammation and proteinopathy.
Maria de los Ángeles Pajares Tarancón
Interactions between nutrition and deafness.
Structure/function relations in the metabolism of methionine and homcystein.
Isabel Varela Nieto
Genetic and molecular bases of hearing and hearing impairment.
Mechanisms of action of IGF-1 and changes associated to its deficit.
Carolina Roza Fernández de Caleya
Sensitizing mechanisms in the nociceptive system.
José A. López García
Processing of nociceptive information in peripheral nerve and spinal cord.
New analgesic strategies from the use of electrophysiological and immunocytochemical techniques.
Pedro de la Villa Polo
Retinal physiology and neurodegeneration.
Antonio Guillamon
Sexual differentiation in the brain.
M. Elena Pinos Sánchez
Effects of malnutrition on the development and sexual differentiation of brain structures in rodents.
Luis Carretié
Bases neurales de la interacción entre procesos cognitivos y afectivos
Almudena Capilla
Oscilaciones cerebrales implicadas en los procesos atencionales y perceptivos
Pablo Campo
Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory