About Us

Left Brain Right BrainStudents admitted to the Graduate Program in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences are eligible to apply to the Mechanisms of Health and Disease at the Behavioral and Biomedical Interface Training Program.

Program Objective

The overarching objective of our Program is to train the next generation of diverse behavioral science researchers to utilize biomedical methodologies and conceptual frameworks to enable transformative breakthroughs in understanding both health and behavior. The Program is designed for pre-doctoral students in Psychological and Brain Sciences who have research interests at the interface of the behavioral and biomedical sciences. The Mechanisms of Health and Disease at the Behavioral and Biomedical Interface Training Program offers students unique funding and training opportunities, including: access to apply for two full years of funding via a T32 training grant mechanism (see below for more information), access to summer funding, formal networking and professional development events, and specific skills training (e.g. wet lab or neuroimaging techniques), in order to expand and bolster psychological research.


There is a long tradition of excellence in science at the behavioral-biomedical interface at the University of Iowa. Individual scientists here have been training students to conduct interface research for many years.  Several former psychology graduate students have been trained at the interface and are now in faculty positions around the country.  This is a natural and long-running strength of the University of Iowa because of the close connections between researchers in the behavioral and biomedical sciences, the physical proximity of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and the Carver College of Medicine (CCOM), and the strong Clinical Psychology, and Neuropsychology programs involving graduate training faculty who run interface-type research programs. 

The Training Grant

Recent funding opportunities from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) have prioritized training in biomedical methodologies to pre-doctoral students in the behavioral sciences.  The training program is supported by a pre-doctoral training grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (T32GM108540).  The aims of the grant are to support efforts to train diverse graduate students in psychology to combine their behavioral expertise with cutting-edge biomedical methodologies in order to unravel mechanisms associated with health and disease.  The Training Grant provides students with training in one of two broad focus areas: Lifespan Brain Health and Psychobiology of Chronic Disease and Women's Health. Our training program provides information on career development and highlights information on diverse career pathways for the Ph.D.’s at the behavioral-biomedical interface to provide maximum flexibility and success in career choice beyond traditional academic opportunities.

Students admitted to the Training Program are eligible to apply for Training Grant support at the end of their first year to cover their second year of training.  This support then may be renewed for the student's third year of training.  Only U.S. citizens can apply for Training Grant support, but non U.S. citizens may participate in the Training Program and are eligible to receive support from graduate fellowships through the Training Program. The Training Program is highly committed to diversity and students from diverse backgrounds as well as students with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Training Program Requirements

Students are admitted to work with a specific mentor from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, and develop a project with that mentor that involves interdisciplinary research at the behavioral-biomedical interface. Based on the collaboration and training necessary for their potential project, students select one or more biomedical co-mentors to help supervise their research or to provide them with experience in laboratory rotations that will complement their behavioral training. For a list of mentors, vis the Faculty Mentors page.

Participation in the Training Program involves a combination of coursework and laboratory experiences that provide students with a wide range of skills as well as the guidance and mentorship to conduct interface research. All students in the Training Program, regardless of whether they receive funding from the T32, are subject to Training Program requirements.

Training Program requirements include the following:

  1. Participate in the BBIP Seminar, held twice per month.
  2. Participate in the BBIP Annual Retreat.
  3. Take a comprehensive foundational course taught by Training Faculty: PSY5710 - Introduction to Health and Behavioral Sciences.
  4. Completion of two courses in quantitative methods (BBIP Quantitave Course Menu).
  5. It is strongly recommended that students take two interdisciplinary electives at the Brain-Behavior Interface (e.g. Neurobiology of Chronic Disease; Genetic epidemiology).
  6. Participate in an approved Responsible Conduct of Research course.
  7. Complete two laboratory rotations in the laboratories of biomedical faculty.  Each rotation will be 6-8 weeks long, and will involve 15-20 hours/week of lab time. Steps for completing each rotation include:
  8. Generate an annual Individual Development Plan with the primary mentor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

Travel Support

BBIP offers support to graduate students for conference travel. Students may apply for funding to travel to conferences in the amount of up to $300 per trip per fiscal year (July 1st - June 30th). Support amounts available may vary from year to year. All BBIP students are eligible provided they are presenting as first-author for their poster or talk. ​​​​​​Apply for funding by completing this BBIP Travel Assistance Form.


BBIP Executive Committee

  • Susan Lutgendorf (Program Director)
  • Daniel Tranel (Program Co-Director)
  • Michelle Voss
  • Molly Nikolas
  • Alan Johnson
  • Kara Whittaker (External member)
  • Rachel Telles (Student member)

BBIP Program and Evaluation Committee

  • Michelle Voss (Co-Chair)
  • Ece Demir-Lira (Co-Chair)
  • Bengi Baran
  • Aaron Boes

BBIP Recruitment and Admissions Committee

  • Kim Johnson (Chairperson)
  • Amanda McCleery (Co-Chair)
  • Emily Thomas
  • David Lubaroff (External member)
  • Dan Tranel (Ex-officio)