Lindsay Pascal Lab Photo
Lindsay Pascal, a graduate researcher in the Neuroscience and Public Policy Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, works in the lab of Brian Baldo, an assistant professor of psychiatry, at University Research Park. Pascal’s dissertation research focuses on the brain’s role in regulating eating behavior. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

Advances in neuroscience have raised important questions in a wide range of policy issues, domestically and globally, such as those affecting neurotoxins and the environment, mental health, child development, cognitive enhancement, criminal responsibility, the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals or medical devices, and the ethics and regulation of emerging discoveries, e.g., those associated with stem cells and their applications. To effectively address these and other policy and legal issues, there is a clear need for neuroscientists who have been trained to think critically about issues at the intersection of neuroscience and public policy, or neuroscience and the law, and who and have appropriate skills, experience, and networks to work effectively in bridging both disciplines. It is the aim of the Neuroscience and Public Policy Program to train such neuroscientists.

In 2005, the University of Wisconsin-Madison established the Neuroscience and Public Policy, since then the program has expanded to include three integrated degree tracks. Students in the program have the opportunity to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience and either a Master of Public Affairs (M.P.A.), Master of International Public Affairs (M.I.P.A.), or J.D. in Law.

In each of the degree tracks, the Program brings together faculty from neuroscience, public policy, bioethics, sociology, and law to train research neuroscientists who will be qualified to help shape public policy or the law that should be informed by discovery in neuroscience. The cross-disciplinary training combines didactic and laboratory research training in neuroscience with a classroom-based and “hands on” education in public policy or the law.

Students in the Neuroscience and Public Policy Program meet all of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree in neuroscience, which are set by the Neuroscience Training Program, those for the M.P.A. or the M.I.P.A. degree, which are determined by the La Follette School, or those for the J.D. degree as prescribed by the Law School. Neuroscience and Public Policy students also take the Neuroscience and Public Policy Seminar, which meets biweekly, during each of the years they are enrolled in the Program. The Seminar is a central element in the Program and challenges students to synthesize information that bridges neuroscience and public policy or the law, and to express this synthesis clearly in written critiques and oral presentations.

For additional details on program requirements, a sample timeline for each track and admissions information, please review the pages for each track.


We look forward to receiving your application to this exciting program and welcoming you to UW-Madison!