AURORA, Colo., Aug. 5 (UPI) -- James Holmes was a promising neuroscience doctoral student before he was accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 at a theater in Colorado, officials say.
Holmes was one of six students accepted into the University of Colorado's neuroscience graduate program in 2011, The Denver Post reported Sunday.
After being accepted to the program, Holmes was selected to be one of three first-year students and three second-year students to receive a National Institutes of Health grant that covered his tuition and fees and provided a stipend for living expenses.
The grant is given to the top students in the program, said Diego Restrepo, co-director of CU Denver's NeuroScience Center.
At school, Holmes studied how nerve cells communicate with one another, and how the brain generates thoughts and ideas, controls movement and processes vision, smell and hearing.
"One of the great mysteries is how our brain works," said Dr. James Ashe, director of the graduate program in neuroscience at the University of Minnesota. "We have a fair idea how the kidney works; we know a lot about the heart. There are far more unknown areas in brain research than in many fields."
Just two months before July 20 shooting spree at an Aurora movie theater's midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," Holmes was supposed to give a presentation on "microRNA biomarkers" in a class called "biological basis of psychiatric and neurological disorders," authorities said.
Directors of CU's neuroscience graduate program said the environment Holmes was working in was intellectually demanding and rewarding.
Holmes dropped out of the program on June 10.
Now, Holmes is facing 142 charges, including 24 first-degree murder counts.
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