Columbia Access to Doctoral REadiness (CADRE) Post-Baccalaureate Program

Columbia Access to Doctoral REadiness (CADRE) is a comprehensive two-year post-baccalaureate (‘postbac’) research program, funded by NINDS. It is intended for recent college graduates of high potential who are interested in pursuing a research career in neuroscience but lacked access to research opportunities as undergraduates.

The core of CADRE is a two-year research project advised by selected mentors. Postbacs will choose a lab from a range of neuroscience areas including behavioral and systems neuroscience, cellular, molecular and developmental neuroscience, computational neuroscience, human cognitive studies, and the neurobiology of neurological diseases. They will be supervised by engaged and enthusiastic mentors chosen for their mentoring track record and skills, as well by a graduate student peer mentor in the lab. The postbac’s research project will also be complemented with coursework to strengthen their academic foundations, though coursework is not the primary focus of the program. In addition, throughout the program, postbacs will attend seminars, lectures, and other educational events around Columbia University.

Applications for the 2025-2027 cohort will open in late Fall 2024. 


Interested in applying to the CADRE program?

Check out the recording from our info session that we hosted in early January 2024! In this info session, interested applicants got to hear from current scholars and program administrators about the application process, interview process, and what you can kind of experience you might have if accepted into the program. 

To stay up to date on updates from our program, sign up for our listserv here

Meet the 2024-2026 CADRE Cohort

Picture of Chamari Abercrombie
Chamari Abercrombie

The College of Wooster (2024)

Chamari received her BA in Neuroscience-Biology from The College of Wooster in Ohio. During her last year of undergrad, she completed her
Independent Study by analyzing epilepsy in Drosophila melanogaster. Chamari’s goal is to pursue an MD/PhD as a neurosurgeon to contribute to research that aligns with her goals of providing adequate patient care and development of effective but safe medication. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Chamari is excited to explore the city. In her free time, she loves to work out and try new restaurants.

Picture of Adeline Choi
Adeline Choi

Williams College (2024)

Adeline received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Neuroscience from Williams College. From her liberal arts education, she gained an intellectual interest in understanding the role of epigenetics in stress-mediated neurodevelopmental disorders. Her research interest spans from validating the epigenetic changes induced by stress to identifying mechanisms that could reverse the genetic susceptibility to psychiatric disorders using gene editing tools. Adeline’s interest in neuroscience has intersected with her previous work with neurodivergent children and education outreach, both of which she hopes to continue with the Columbia community.

Picture of Alisa Leshchenko
Alisa Leshchenko

CUNY, Hunter College (2024)

Alisa received her bachelor's degree at CUNY with dual concentrations in Mathematics & Machine Learning and Cognitive Neuroscience. Originally a Philosophy major, she has sought to study the mind from multiple angles -- and eventually to model it. Her research interests include cognitive maps, abstraction, and compositionality in a neural substrate. In her free time, Alisa enjoys hiking, painting, and experimenting with robotics.

Picture of Ian Wright
Ian Wright

Lafayette College (2024)

Originally from Cheltenham Township in PA, Ian has been pursuing a career in biomedical research ever since discovering his interest in Neuroscience at the end of his sophomore year at Lafayette College. Between summer internships and research at his school, he has assisted with experiments involving the physiology of rat cerebellum, protection against carcinogens in zebrafish, bat echolocation, and most recently, on brain-computer interface technology. His goal is to contribute to the development of treatments and cures for mental and neurological disorders. He is looking forward to exploring New York City and finding places to listen to live music.

Meet the 2023-2025 CADRE Cohort

Picture of Adriana Velez Alicea
Adriana Velez Alicea

University of Puerto Rico, Cayey (2023)

Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Adriana studied Biology at the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey. During her last year of undergrad, she had the opportunity to work as a research assistant with Dr. Enrique Rodríguez, where she assisted in isolating and characterizing gut microbiome bacteriophages from nicotine-exposed Drosophila. By understanding how substances like nicotine affect the gut microbiome, Adriana hopes to gain insight into the gut microbiome’s influence in the gut-brain axis.

Picture of Atheer Musad
Atheer Musad

CUNY, Brooklyn College (2023)

Atheer received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in Neuroscience, from CUNY Brooklyn College. She was an NIH Blueprint ENDURE Scholar, and as an undergraduate student, she conducted neuroscience research with mentors from Brown, Yale, and SUNY Downstate. From a young age, she has been interested in mental and neurological disorders, and Atheer’s goal is to develop more effective treatments with fewer side-effects for these disorders. She also loves traveling and exploring different cultures.

Picture of Raheema Javid
Raheema Javid

CUNY, Queens College (2023)

Raheema has a background in teaching and is committed to serving her community through neuroscience research. After completing graduate studies in Elementary and Early Childhood Education and Psychology from The City University of New York's Queens College, she hopes to further diversity, equity, and inclusion in neuroscience. In her free time, Raheema enjoys reading classical Arabic literature, swimming, and finding new halal eateries around the city.

Picture of Anna Darling
Anna Darling

Villanova University (2023)

Anna received her Bachelor’s of Science in Biochemistry, with minors in Psychology and Criminology, from Villanova University. Her goal is to receive a PhD in neuroscience and contribute to research that aligns with her passions for mental health and disability advocacy. Originally from Binghamton, NY, she is excited to be back in the Empire State and closer to the home bases of her beloved NY Giants and NY Yankees. Her favorite hobby is to sit in a coffee shop for hours, reading or doing work. She also loves sharing meals with friends and long walks with a sports or comedy podcast.

The CADRE Program is committed to training a diverse group of neuroscientists from a broad range of ethnic, cultural, educational, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

This program is designed to exclusively support individuals who graduated from undergraduate institutions that did not provide an opportunity for research involvement that would be equivalent to that available at Research I institutions.

We will be able to accept 4 CADRE students per year.

Eligibility requirements

  • Must be a U.S. citizen, a noncitizen national of the U.S., or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
  • At program start (Summer 2024), applicants must have received their baccalaureate degree in a biomedically relevant science from an accredited college/university.
    • Applicants cannot be enrolled in a degree-granting program when the CADRE program begins. If the degree is forthcoming but not yet in hand because of the timing of baccalaureate degree conferral then a letter to that effect is required from the registrar or equivalent official.
  • Importantly, the baccalaureate degree MUST be from an institution that did not provide opportunities for a strong biomedical research experience.
    • Applicants who obtained their baccalaureate degrees from institutions offering doctoral degree programs in neuroscience-related biomedical sciences are NOT eligible.
  • The baccalaureate degree must have been awarded no more than 36 months (i.e. 3 years) prior to applying to this program. There are some exceptions to this limit:
    • Parental, medical, or other well-justified leave for personal or family situations is not included in the 3-year eligibility limit.
    • National service (e.g. Peace Corps, or service in Armed Forces Reserves or National Guard) also does not count toward this 3-year limit.
  • Applications from individuals from backgrounds under-represented in the sciences are especially encouraged
  • We recognize that you may not know if your institution and/or your degree major fit these criteria. For example, a major in math is relevant for theoretical neuroscience, and therefore would be relevant for this program. If you are unsure about whether you meet these eligibility criteria, you are welcome to still apply, or ask us a question by emailing [email protected]

Applications for the 2024-2026 cohort are now open. Please find the link for the application here.

Applications are not considered complete until we receive your letter of recommendation, submitted directly by your recommender. Please provide them with this link to upload it before January 31, 2024.

Join us on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 from 6:00-7:00 pm to hear from current scholars and program administrators about the application process, interview process, and what you can kind of experience you might have if accepted into the program. Registration is required here.

Required components:

  1. Basic, demographic, and contact information
  2. Undergraduate transcript (unofficial or official transcript accepted)
  3. Resume / CV (2 pages maximum)
  4. List three (3) areas of neuroscience that interest you
  5. Essay question: a research question that interests you (1 page maximum)
  6. Personal statement (2 pages maximum)
  7. One (1) letter of recommendation (2 pages maximum; can be from a professor, a mentor, advisor, a job supervisor, etc.) Must be submitted directly by the recommender via a qualtrics link shared with applicants.

Pagination instructions: all page limits are based on the use of 1.5 spacing, 0.5" margins, and Arial 11-point font (or Times New Roman 12-point font)

Components 2-3, and 5-6, as well as the letter of recommendation should be uploaded in PDF format.

What we look for in the application:

  • Interest in pursuing a career in neuroscience research
  • Excellence in a student’s chosen undergraduate major
    • We recognize that the first year of college can be especially challenging and also that personal circumstances can impact academic performance (especially during pandemics).  All extenuating circumstances will be taken into consideration. You may include these circumstances in your personal statement if you are comfortable doing so, or reach out to a program Co-Director.
  • Taking courses in neurobiology, and related biomedical science courses is encouraged even if you have not majored in the subject. We recognize that each school may not offer the same variety of courses.
  • The CADRE program is an intensive research experience and students should enter with a mature view of the commitment involved.
    • Applicants should treat this program as a full-time research job

Columbia Access to Doctoral REadiness (CADRE) is a comprehensive two-year post-baccalaureate (‘postbac’) research program. As such, we provide students with the following:

  • Pay: approximately $44,400 per year + benefits
  • Full-time research experience with mentorship from faculty and peers
  • Workshops and courses on rigorous research and neuroscience topics
  • After 7 months from start date, postbacs can enroll in Columbia courses for credit for free
  • Support in applying for graduate programs or jobs toward the end of the program

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide housing, but accepted students will receive resources for finding housing in NYC.

December 2023: Application Opens

January 31, 2024: Application Deadline (Late applications will not be accepted)

Late February/Early March 2024: Virtual interviews for selected applicants with CADRE staff and potential research mentors

April 2024: Decisions announced

Summer 2024: Program starts (Cohort II)

Summer/Fall 2025: Cohort II students apply to graduate school and/or jobs

June 2026: Program ends (Cohort II)

Dr. Wes Grueber, CADRE Co-Director, Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics and Neuroscience; Principal Investigator at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute

Dr. Ulrich Hengst, CADRE Co-Director, Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology (in the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain)

Dr. Aniruddha Das, CADRE Associate Director, Associate Professor of Neuroscience; Principal Investigator at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute

Ms. Alissa Mayers, CADRE Administrator, Director of Public Programs at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute

Ms. Ivy Elkins, CADRE Administrator, Scientific Programs Manager at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute

Have questions about the CADRE program?

You can reach us by emailing [email protected]


Interested in receiving announcements about CADRE?

Sign up for our listserv here. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Current undergraduates from underrepresented groups who are interested in summer research opportunities should consider the SPURS program.

Advanced undergraduates from underrepresented groups who are interested in applying to PhD programs should apply to Columbia Access Neuroscience (CAN).

Columbia's Bridge to the Ph.D. Program in STEM is a post bac program that is designed to increase the participation of students from underrepresented groups in Ph.D. programs in STEM disciplines.


Logos for: NINDS, Columbia VP&S, Columbia GSAS, and Columbia's Zuckerman Institute