Postdoctoral Researchers

Following completion of doctoral studies, many individuals choose to pursue additional postdoctoral training. The Department of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center provides postdoctoral training opportunities to individuals interested in pursuing careers in the neurobiological basis of mental illness. In conjunction with the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, postdoctoral researchers will receive rigorous training in advanced neuroscience techniques with a focus on developing an independent research program.

Why I Chose UT Southwestern

David Petrik, Ph.D., in the Laboratory of Amelia Eisch, Ph.D.

UT Southwestern Medical Center and the Department of Psychiatry, in particular, is a great place for postdoctoral training. The environment is very collaborative, and postdocs benefit greatly from having so many colleagues with a broad spectrum of expertise and willingness to share their know-how or reagents.

My original training for both my Master’s and my Ph.D. was in the electrophysiology of astrocytes and neurons and the biophysics of potassium ion channels. To further my career options, however, I decided to dramatically change the overall direction of my research toward more systemic neuroscience. Despite receiving several other offers for my postdoctoral training from institutions in the U.S. and in Europe, I still decided to accept the offer from my current mentor, Amelia Eisch, Ph.D. The deciding factors for me were Dr. Eisch being a great mentor and the collaborative and flexible environment at UT Southwestern.

This environment helped me to transition from my original training to areas of research previously unfamiliar for me. The wide spectrum of techniques that are available here have enriched not only my career but also my everyday life. Indeed, my days in the lab can be very diverse. I may start with an immunohistochemistry on brain sections or Western blots in the morning, but by early afternoon, I may be taking care of my primary tissue culture. By the evening I may be treating my transgenic mice or performing some behavioral test.

Such research variation is possible because of the strength and expertise at UT Southwestern. It is very common for me to email the community and request a cell line, a chemical, or a protocol. Within a few hours, there will be somebody on campus who is ready to help. In our particular area of research, adult neurogenesis, we enjoy even tighter collaborative efforts within the cluster of adult neurogenesis labs, even though they are located in many different departments such as Molecular Biology, Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, and Psychiatry.

The Department of Psychiatry is strong in its translational and clinical approaches, as well as its tremendously rich behavioral core. Our Departmental core for behavioral neuroscience carries several dozen behavioral tests ranging from tests on learning and memory to tests on drug addiction and models of psychiatric disorders. The Department's postdoc community is very international and welcoming to young people excited about solving mechanisms underlying important psychiatric disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, or drug addiction.

I entered my postdoctoral phase as an electrophysiologist and biophysicist who aspired to broaden my expertise towards systemic neuroscience. The first two years at UT Southwestern allowed me to grow not only technically but also intellectually. I believe this is the best research biomedical institution in Texas and one of the best in the United States, and I am glad I decided to start my postdoc training here.

David Petrik, Ph.D.
Amelia Eisch Lab
Department of Psychiatry
UT Southwestern Medical Center