Academic Features

Academic Features

Common Curriculum Offerings

Fall 2018 Offered

Deconstruction of Research. (Cross listed Neurosci 563: 3 credits).  Deconstruction of Research is based on the premise that construction of new scientific knowledge builds from a foundation of primary evidence that requires critical evaluation through active analysis and productive discourse. Students will learn and understand the nature and development of scientific knowledge transmitted through oral and written avenues. Students will learn the necessary skills required for critical analysis of general concepts no matter how familiar or unfamiliar the topic. Dr. Steve Simasko

Featured Faculty (Fall 2018):

Selected topics in Immunology & Virology (MBioS 548). 1 credit.  May be repeated for credit; cumulative maximum 2 hours. Recommended preparation: Concurrent enrollment with MBIOS 540 or 542. Typically offered Fall and Spring.   

  • Immunopathology: (Weeks 1-5).  In this course students will develop knowledge and skills related to immunology and infectious diseases. The goal of this course is to stimulate scientific critical thinking while learning about the major topics in immunology.  The day/time for the course is not fixed yet.  It is decided on the first day of the class (which is typically in the last week of Aug).  Dr. Santanu Bose

Special Topics in Integrative Neuroscience (Neurosci 540). 1 credit (may be repeated). Each section (module) is independent of other sections and is taught within a 5 week block. There are three consecutive blocks per semester.  

  • Introduction of Neuroanatomy (core):  (Weeks 1-5).  This course will provide graduate students with a high-level overview of nervous system anatomy seen through the lens of modern imaging, tract-tracing and functional techniques. Readings of the primary literature and discussions will reinforce the importance of understanding neuroanatomy in the greater context of neuroscience. Dr. Heiko Jansen
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases:  Mechanisms and Treatments:  (Weeks 6-10).  The course will first cover common mechanisms of degeneration with discussions of the role of cell death mechanisms, autophagy, the unfolded protein response, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial dysfunction in neurodegenerative disease. The focus will then shift to the underlying disease mechanisms, the current state of therapies and their biological basis, the current state of therapeutic and mechanistic research, and finally anticipated future therapeutic modalities for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Depending on specific student interest we may explore other neurodegenerative, neuro-traumatic, and neuromuscular disorders. Dr. Joseph Harding
  • Ion Channels:  Structural/Molecular/Biophysical Mechanisms:  (Weeks 11-15).  This microcourse is directed toward developing an understanding of ion channel molecular mechanisms, structural and functional diversity and specializations, channel biogenesis and turnover, and the relationship between human diseases and disturbances of ion channel structure/function. The course will include lectures as well as reading and discussion of the primary literature.  Previous neurophysiology coursework is recommended (e.g., Neurosci 542A, Classical Membrane Biophysics). Dr. Michael Varnum


Special Topics in Interdisciplinary Neuroscience (Neurosci 542). 1 credit (may be repeated). Each section (module) is independent of other sections and is taught within a 5 week block. There are three consecutive blocks per semester.  

  • Classic Membrane Biophysics (core):  (Weeks 1-5).  This course will provide an introduction to how excitable cells of the nervous system (neurons) use membrane transporters and ion channels to generate a membrane potential, generate and sculpt electrical currents, fire action potentials, and communicate with each other via synapses. The course will then explore how these processes integrate and interact with the structure of neurons and glial cells to form a functional nervous system. The course will also explore the various tools and techniques that are currently used to study such processes. Dr. David Rossi
  • Gut-Brain Communication:  Microbiota-Derived Signals:  (Weeks 6-10).  Dr. Levente Kapas
  • Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System:  (Weeks 11-15).  This course will provide a detailed overview of cannabis and describe how its primary constituents act in the brain to alter the brain, behavior, and cognitive functioning. A special emphasis will be placed on primary components of the endogenous cannabinoid system (receptors, ligands, biosynthetic and degradative enzymes), their precise mechanisms of action in the brain, and how perturbation within each of these components may increase vulnerability for developing neuropsychiatric illnesses. Lectures will be supplemented with assigned readings and in-depth class discussions pertaining to seminal human and preclinical animal studies.  Dr. Ryan McLaughlin


Spring 2019 Planned

Topics in Biomedical Experimentation. (Cross listed Neurosci 564; 1 credit).  May be repeated. This course examines the philosophy of experimental design and practical application and analysis of various experimental approaches in biomedical research. Each section (module) is independent of other sections and is taught within a 5 week block. There are three consecutive blocks per semester.  The first 5 week block is always Philosophy of Experimental Design and is required of students from programs participating in the iPBS umbrella.

  • Philosophy of Experimental Design: This course will help graduate students develop an understanding and the habits of mind regarding acquisition of new knowledge through examining the philosophy and principles of experimental design and analysis. 
  • Analysis of Biomedical Experiments: This course will inform the student of common misapplications of statistics in biomedical experimentation. Emphasis is on probabilistic decision making in life science data analysis, matching experimental goals with the correct statistical approaches, and common pitfalls in analysis. This course will not substitute for courses that teach formal statistical methods and computation. 
  • Imaging and Image Analysis: This course will guide students in the selection of optimal imaging techniques for the particular question they seek to answer, provide hands on experience with collecting results from a sample of their interest (or a provided sample), and then once the image is collected, the optimal means to extract data from the image.