Neuroscience Curriculum

The Neuroscience curriculum includes Fundamental Neuroscience I and II, Biochemistry, Neurobiology Basics modules (PHPH752), plus more advanced and integrated Neurobiology of Disease modules (PHPH753).  Each Neurobiology of Disease Module provides an in depth study of Neurological Diseases in an 8-10 week time period (a sample of topics is shown below). 

  • Neurobiology of Disease Modules
  • Schizophrenia, Prefrontal Cortex & Executive Function
  • Stress, Anxiety Disorders & the Amygdala
  • Stress, Depression & the Hippocampus
  • Degenerative Disease of Old Age
  • Chronic Pain & Analgesia
  • Epilepsy

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The curriculum is designed to give students an integrated background in neuroscience that includes a strong foundation in cellular and molecular principles but with a clear focus on integrating these principles into understanding physiological and behavioral endpoints. This should allow our students to pursue research projects spanning from molecular neuroscience to behavior. 

Students are also required to regularly attend student and speaker presentations that form the basis of the Biomedical Seminar course, as well as participate in at least four semesters in the Neuroscience Seminar Course.  The latter course focuses on developing skills in reading scientific literature, grant writing, professional speaking, and career development.

Curriculum Timeline: PPN Guidelines Timeline for completing a PhD

During the first year students are expected to complete two -three research rotations (rotations form), and select a mentor and advisory committee by the conclusion of their first year in  program (mentor selection form). Admission to candidacy occurs after the first year and is based on successful completion (B or better grades) in coursework, plus submission of a summary of a research project completed during their first year rotation(s). Upon successful completion of the Year 1 curriculum, students take a Candidacy Exam assessing overall neuroscience knowledge from Fundamental Neuroscience I and II (candidacy exam guidelines). 

Based on the completion of research rotations, admission to candidacy, and mentor selection during the first year, the student is expected to assemble a committee for developing their program of study (committee selection form). The committee consists of 3 members of the Neuroscience Focus Group, a member from another focus group in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, and a member from outside the School of Medicine. Coursework is completed predominantly during the first two years of the program,  at which time students are expected to complete their comprehensive exam. This is generally done during the late spring or summer of the second year.  For the comprehensive exam, students select a topic distinct from their research project, prepare  a small NIH-style grant proposal on the topic, and orally defend the proposal (comprehensive exam form). During the next year student begins developing a proposal for their dissertation research, with the help of their mentor and their committee (dissertation proposal form). 

Dissertation Preparation:  Helpful resources are found at the four links below