Penn Medicine Neuroscience Center

About the Center

Administrative Structure and Goals of the PMNC


The PMNC is optimally organized to integrate clinical care, research, and education.

  • The PMNC is led by two Co-Directors, one from a clinical department (Dwight Evans, MD, Ruth Meltzer Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, and Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Neuroscience) and one from a basic science department (Amita Sehgal, PhD, John Herr Musser Professor of Neuroscience, HHMI Investigator, and Vice Chair of the Department of Neuroscience).
  • The PMNC Co-Directors both report directly to the Dean of the School of Medicine and to the CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. This strengthens the position of the Center within the larger institution and ensures that the PMNC has a voice at the highest levels of the School of Medicine and Health System.
  • The Executive Director of the PMNC is Rosellen Taraborrelli, who also serves as Chief Administrative and Financial Officer of the Department of Psychiatry, which has acclaimed programs in clinical care, research, and education.

Institutional and Programmatic Goals

The PMNC has multiple programmatic goals in several mission areas.  Building on a long tradition of interdisciplinary thinking, the Center is designed to create an integrated and collaborative organizational framework for Penn departments, centers, institutes, and programs in the neurosciences.


Institutional and Organizational Goals


  • Contribute to implementing the Penn Medicine Strategic Plan that emphasizes neuroscience as an area for development.
  • Provide an organizational home to promote planning for integrated clinical care, research, and educational programs, while maintaining departmental and center/institute integrity and initiatives.
  • Help coordinate and foster major grant applications, faculty recruitments, and integrated planning and activities.

Clinical Care Goals


  • Increase the cross-connections and interactions among neuroscience specialties and services to apply the latest advances in medicine to patient care.
  • Expand clinical neuroscience programs and coordinate marketing and networking efforts.
  • Provide funding for collaborative clinical pilot projects to support targeted clinical areas and interdepartmental collaboration.
  • Ultimately, create a contiguous clinical structure with facilities for outpatient, inpatient, diagnostic, and surgical activities to better serve the needs of patients.

Research Goals


  • Coordinate and expand basic, translational, and clinical research.
  • Support shared core facilities and infrastructure necessary for the further development of basic, translational, and clinical research.
  • Offer pilot project grants to support targeted research areas and  interdepartmental collaboration.
  • Ultimately, create a contiguous dedicated research facility that is home to multi-departmental efforts in the neurosciences.

Education and Training Goals


  • Expand and better coordinate and integrate education and training programs for physicians, nurses, other health care professionals, medical students, residents and fellows, graduate (PhD) students, and University undergraduates  within the neuroscience community.



Dwight L. Evans, MD

Dr. Evans is a nationally recognized expert on depression and bipolar disorders, and he is principal investigator for several NIH research grants on the neurobiology of stress and depression, and a NIH research training grant.  His translational research focuses on the mechanistic role of serotonin, glucocorticoid, and neuropeptide pathways on neuroimmune function in mood disorders and medical illness.

He is Past President of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) (2005-2008); and Past President of the American College of Psychiatrists (ACP) (2009-2010);  He was Chair of the NIMH Mental Health/AIDS Immunology Research Study Section (1991-1993); member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of NIMH (2001-2003); member of the National Advisory Committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program (1994-1997); and served on the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Gulf War and Health (2006-2007).

Dr. Evans is an editor of Neuroimmunology, Methods in Neurosciences and also an editor of The Physicians’ Guide to Depression and Bipolar Disorder.   He is a co-editor of Treating and Preventing Adolescent Mental Health Disorders, awarded Best Book in Clinical Medicine in 2005 by the Association of American Publishers.  He is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Klerman Award from the National Depression and Manic Depression Association (1997), The Beck Award (AFSP) (2003), the Mood Disorders Research Award (ACP) (2004), the National Pain Foundation’s John Oakley Award (2008), the American Psychiatric Association/AACDP Research Mentorship Award (2008), and most recently, The Menninger Award from the American College of Physicians (2009), and the American Psychiatric Association Award for Research in Psychiatry (2009).

Amita Sehgal, PhD
During Dr. Sehgal’s career, she has received numerous awards and honors.  In 1997, she was selected through the first nationwide search of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) for an appointment in this institute and currently remains an HHMI Investigator.  At Penn she has received the Michael S Brown Junior faculty Research Award (in 1997) as well as the Stanley Cohen Senior Faculty Research Award from Penn (in 2006).  Dr. Sehgal has served in editorial positions for several journals.  Currently, she is an Associate Editor of  the Journal of Neuroscience as well as the Journal of Clinical Investigation, and serves on the editorial board of the Nature and Science of Sleep.  Dr. Sehgal has served as a member of many NIH committees, including the review panels for Pioneer and New Innovative Investigator awards.

Amita Sehgal's goal is to understand the molecular basis of behavior. Her studies are directed, in part, towards understanding the endogenous mechanisms that confer a circadian (~24-hour) periodicity on many behaviors and physiological processes. Her research is also focused on the regulation and function of sleep, which is controlled by the circadian clock and also by a homeostatic process which drives the need to sleep.

Using largely the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model system, Sehgal’s laboratory is employing genetic approaches to address fundamental questions regarding the endogenous circadian clock.  They seek to determine how, on a molecular level, the endogenous clock is generated, how it synchronizes to light, and how it interacts with various body systems to drive rhythms of behavior and physiology. To understand the homeostatic system that controls sleep, they are mapping brain regions required for sleep and wake, identifying genes that affect sleep and testing candidate hypotheses for the function of sleep.

Rosellen Taraborrelli
Rosellen Taraborrelli serves as the Executive Director of the Penn Medicine Neuroscience Center. She is a long standing member of the Penn community. She also serves as Chief Operating Officer of the Department of Psychiatry and Penn Behavioral Health at the University of Pennsylvania where she has served in this position for more than 14 years. Rosellen serves as the Executive Director of PENN Behavioral Health Corporate Services, which manages the behavioral health benefits for the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania Health System. It also provides Employee Assistance and Management Assistance programs and training to 60 companies.