Leonard E. White, PhD

Dr. Leonard White

Associate Professor

Phone: 919-668-3015

Office: Wing B, #243

Email: len.white@duke.edu

Dr. White’s training and scientific practice have made him a recognized expert in the structure of the human brain, the organization of the visual parts of the brain, and the influence of experience on brain development in early life.

He is a co-author and co-editor of a major textbook of neuroscience and a digital atlas of the human central nervous system. He has created free open online courses for the Coursera MOOC platform followed by more than 100,000 people in over 190 nations.

He leads the education team of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences and is the associate director of undergraduate studies in neuroscience; co-director of the Brain and Society theme of Duke’s Bass Connections initiative; and associate director for integrated human biological sciences of the Master of Biomedical Sciences program. He directs neuroscience courses for medical students and undergraduates at Duke and leads workshops on the structure and function of the human brain.


  • Postdoctoral fellow, Duke University, 1992 – 1999

  • PhD, neural biology, Washington University, 1992

  • MBS, Oral Roberts University, 1987

  • BS, Oral Roberts University, 1985



  • PT602/612: Body & Brain I & II

School of Medicine

  • NEUROBIO 202: Brain & Behavior

  • HEALTHSCI 501: Human Structure

  • HEALTHSCI 503: Systems Sciences

Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

  • NEUROSCI 242A: Mimetic Brain

  • NEUROSCI 290A: Cultured Brain

  • NEUROSCI 380L: Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain

  • NEUROBIO 720A: Neuroanatomy

  • NEURO SCI 751: Neuroscience Bootcamp

  • PSY 760S: Principles in Cognitive Neuroscience II


Dr. White's work seeks to characterize the contributions of both intrinsic mechanisms of development and sensory experience to the formation and evolution of visual areas in the cerebral cortex to identify the neural processes by which these factors shape normal development and to determine the timing of their influence on the developing brain. These studies provide insight into the nature of intrinsic and experience-dependent factors in normal development and the consequences of disrupting this partnership for the construction of competent neural systems. Other studies are directed toward understanding the functional architecture of neural circuits in the mature visual system. This work combines neuroanatomical, electrophysiological and optical imaging methods to probe the relation between structure and function in the visual cortex and thalamo-cortical circuits. Dr. Reiman also collaborates with colleagues in radiology to understand the histological correlates of diffusion tensor MR imaging and the impact of a variety of neurological diseases.

Recent publications

Awards and honors

  • Jan K. Richardson, PT, PhD, OCS Excellence in Teaching Award (chosen by first-year Doctor of Physical Therapy students), 2007

  • Golden Apple Award for instruction by basic science faculty, as voted by medical students in the Duke University School of Medicine, 2010

  • Master Clinician/Teacher Award, conferred by the Chancellor for Health Affairs and the Dean of the School of Medicine, 2011

  • "Top 5% Course in Arts & Sciences": Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain, recognized by the Dean of Arts & Sciences, 2012 (based on learner evaluations for fall, 2011).

  • Golden Apple award for instruction by basic science faculty, as voted by medical students in the Duke University School of Medicine, 2014