Welcome to the website for the Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences! Our faculty is dedicated to quality research in neurosciences, cell and molecular biology, and developmental biology.

We endeavor to provide outstanding educational experiences for graduate and medical students. In addition, through the Partners in Health Sciences program and Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network, we provide expertise that enhances education statewide.

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The Department is structured around three divisions. These were originally intended as academic entities designed to facilitate and support the growth and development of faculty with common interests. Ideally, this will continue to foster the development of programmatic, interdisciplinary funding which would benefit both young and established faculty. The Divisions also provide leadership opportunities for Senior faculty, as they help the Chair with faculty development. In essence, the divisions are sites for mentoring of faculty who need training and skills in specific areas. Many faculty participate in multiple divisions, depending on their needs, interests, and expertise.

The Division of Anatomical Education, directed by Dr. Patrick Tank, mentors faculty in their teaching functions. It provides infrastructure support for three undergraduate medical courses, senior elective medical courses, core graduate courses, and the Anatomical Gift Program. In all of our courses, we seek to explore innovative teaching and learning approaches, including computer-based exams, web-based learning tools, self-paced exams, and problem based learning exercises. Dr. Tank and other course directors mentor young faculty as they improve their teaching skills. All faculty participate in the teaching activities of this division. Please see for more information about this division.

The Division of Translational Neuroscience is directed by Dr. Edgar Garcia-Rill. This Division provides infrastructure and expertise in systems neuroscience to support both primary and secondary faculty, especially those doing work with human subjects. This group recently received a COBRE award and thus developed the Center for Translational Neurosciences. This Center mentors young clinicians and basic scientists. Its members are exploring ways to eliminate neglect in stroke patients, co-morbidities associated with back pain, spinal cord injuries and rehabilitation, long-term effects of neonatal pain, motion disorders, fetal alcohol syndrome, sleep and psychiatric disorders, depression and cardiac disease, and pain mechanisms.  Please see  for information about the grand opening of this Center and

for more information about the Center activities.

The Division of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience.  The  mission of the Division is to provide infrastructure and core support for faculty working at the cellular and/or molecular level. One of its first major achievements was the development of a P30 Center grant, which is directed by Dr. Paul Drew. This grant has developed cutting edge core facilities and the P30 Center members actually include NINDS faculty from multiple departments. They are doing research in the rapidly growing area of neuroimmunology, including neurotrauma, neuroinflammation, and glial cell biology. Departmental faculty who participate in the Division are recognized internationally for work on Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, fetal alcohol syndrome, neuroendocrine regulation of growth and reproduction, and immune responses to brain infection. There is much potential for future expansion in this division to meet future programmatic funding needs. Please see the Division website for more information.

In addition, about 30% of our faculty members are involved in research projects that focus on magnet areas in the developmental sciences, including neuroimmunological aspects of the fetal alcohol syndrome, pituitary cell differentiation, age-related changes in neuroendocrine function, neuroendocrine regulation of reproduction, and molecular regulation of protein synthesis in oocytes. We are seeking faculty in this area of research as well. Some developmental biologists (or scientists) participate in one or both of the above neuroscience divisions, taking advantage of the core facilities and collaborative opportunities.

Our research-oriented M.S. and Ph.D. graduate programs offer a flexible menu of courses and laboratory experiences. Our faculty helped develop a soon to be launched Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, and spearheaded the evolution of our current Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Graduate Track.

During the first half of the decade, the Department enjoyed a rapid growth in funding for its research programs. In 2000, there were 6 NIH grants and by 2004, the number had increased to 15 (for 20 primary, tenure-track faculty). Funds from NIH alone grew from $1.3 million in 2000 to over $5.7 million in 2004. The Department moved from a rank of 61 in 2000 to a rank of 32 among over 100 Anatomy and Cell Biology departments, based on NIH funding. Since 2004, the ranking has remained relatively high from 38th in 2005 to 40th in 2008 due to some reductions in funding. The reduced funding has been the combined effect of retirements, two faculty leaving, and delays in refunding, largely due to the NIH slowdown. However, many of our remaining 15 faculty have recovered funding with the promise of more in the coming months. In addition, the department has National Science Foundation, Multiple Sclerosis, American Cancer Society and other types of foundation funds.

This continues to be an exciting time of continued growth and development for our department. The state of the art core facilities, the new Centers, and the expanded expertise in developmental sciences provide wonderful opportunities for graduate and post-doctoral training. These opportunities are described in greater detail at this website.


Gwen Childs, Chair, Dept. Neurobiology & Development Sciences

Gwen V. Childs, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair

Dept. of Neurobiology & Developmental Sciences
College of Medicine
4301 W. Markham St.
Little Rock, AR 72205
(501) 686-7020
FAX (501) 686-6382


 Webmaster: Abdallah Hayar