Medical Scientist Training Program
Medical Scientist Training Program
Alexander Helfand

Alexander Helfand, PhD

Matched at Oakland University William Beaumont; Specialty: Neurology

Faculty Advisor

  • Jeffrey Binder, MD, Neurology, Cellular Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy, and Biophysics


  • Medical Scientist Training Program

Contact Information


PhD, Medical College of Wisconsin, 2020
MS, Medical Science, Boston University, 2014
BA, Psychology, Boston University, 2012

Research Interests

I am interested in the chemistry and neurobiology of thought, sensation and pain, communication, addiction, and the subjective human experience. I have previously explored these topics using fMRI of human patients as well as animal research using pharmacologic methods.

Research Experience

Medical College of Wisconsin, 2017-2020
Advisor: Jeffrey Binder, MD
Project: Toward a gold standard: An outcomes-based assessment of fMRI-based methods for probing language laterality in the brain

Medical College of Wisconsin, 2017
Advisor: Cecilia Hillard, PhD
Project: Cannabinoid Receptor 1 and Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase Contribute to Operant Sensation Seeking in Mice Authors

Johns Hopkins University/Boston University, 2013-2014
Advisor: Simon Levy, PhD (Boston University); Una McCann, MD (Johns Hopkins); George Ricaurte, MD, PhD (Johns Hopkins)
Project: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA): Pharmacology, Toxicology, Usage Patterns, and Neurological Effects in Humans

Boston University, 2011-2012
Advisor: Brett DiBenedictis, PhD; Michael Baum, PhD; James Cherry, PhD
Project: Olfactory Hedonics: Differential Projections and Functionality of the Posterior and Anterior Medial Amygdala in Swiss-Webster Mice


Helfand, A. I., Olsen, C. M. & Hillard, C. J. Cannabinoid Receptor 1 and Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase Contribute to Operant Sensation Seeking in Mice. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 18, (2017). doi: 10.3390/ijms18081635.

Dibenedictis, B. T., Helfand, A. I., Baum, M. J. & Cherry, J. A. A quantitative comparison of the efferent projections of the anterior and posterior subdivisions of the medial amygdala in female mice. Brain Research. 1543, 101–108 (2014). doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2013.10.046.

Meeting Abstracts

Helfand, AI and Wenzel, CG. Nonbacterial Thrombotic Endocarditis with Underlying Vascular Disease. WI ACP Annual Meeting, Wisconsin Dells, WI. September 2021.

Helfand, AI, Binder, JR, Conant, LC, Gross, WL, Swanson, SJ, Allen, L, Anderson, CT, Carlson, C, Humphries, CJ, Mueller, WM, Schwartz, L, Busch, RM, Lowe, M, Langfitt, JT, Tivarus, M, Drane, DL, Loring, DW, Jacobs, M, Morgan, Vm Szaflarski, JP, Bonilha, L, Bookheimer, S, Vannest, J, Privitera, M, Grabowski, T, Ojemann, J, and Raghavan, M. “The Pattern of Progressive Atrophy in Medically Refractory Left Temporal Lobe Epilepsy”. Poster presented at the annual MD PhD National Student Conference, Denver, CO, July 2019

Helfand AI, Binder JR, Swanson SJ, Sabsevitz DS, Humphries CJ, Anderson CT, Carlson C, Raghavan M. “Regional Reductions in Grey Matter Volume with Longer Disease Duration in Left Temporal Lobe Epilepsy”. Poster presented at the American Epilepsy Society annual meeting, Washington, DC, December 2017

Brett DiBenedictis, Alexander Helfand, James Cherry PhD, Michael Baum PhD. Differential Projections of the Ant. & Post. Medial Amygdala; Poster presentation at 34th Annual Meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences, Huntington Beach, California. April, 2012.

Yihan Li, Alexander Helfand, Una McCann MD, George Ricaurte MD PhD. Sleep Architecture and Respiratory Disturbances in Abstinent Methamphetamine Users; Poster presentation at 8th Annual Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Research Symposium, Baltimore, Maryland. December, 2013.

Alexander Helfand, Christopher Olsen PhD, Cecilia Hillard PhD. The Effects of Cannabinoid Receptor-1 Knockout on Novel Sensation Seeking Behavior in Mice; Poster presentation at MCW Medical Student Research Symposium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. October, 2015.

General Interests

Machine learning, cloud computing, and tropical aquariums