Educational Objectives


The premise  of the B.S./M.S. program in Neuroscience is that exposure of students to Neuroscience research early in their career development will allow more students to consider careers in Neuroscience research and better prepare them for such a career path. Thus, required core coursework will facilitate acquisition of a broad knowledge base in Neuroscience as well as a strong research focus in Neuroscience. That said, there are different techniques and sub-disciplines involved in the broad field of Neuroscience.  Students will be exposed to concepts of cell biology, biochemistry, physiology, anatomy and pathology through Neuroscience specific applications, such that they should have a cross-competency to other research fields in Biology, making students who complete this program very attractive for Ph.D. programs in Neuroscience or other biological disciplines.

The Essentials in Neuroscience Series

Following is a brief description of the core Neuroscience coursework.

Essentials in Neuroscience I 

This course imparts to the student a basic, but in depth understanding of the major concepts of signal transduction within the nervous system works from a physiological and pharmacological perspective. The physiological perspective covers basic mechanisms of the membrane potential and how these changes are generated by activation of ionotropic and metabotropic receptors. Synaptic transmission and its short and long-term modulation are covered in depth. The course also uses examples of how to investigate circuitry with the hypothalamus, cerebellum and the motor systems to show how unique signal transduction in the nervous system occurs. The sympathetic and parasympathetic systems are also covered. Basic pharmacological concepts of agonism and antagonism are also explained. Additionally, genetic control of expression is examined as a means of a third level of regulation within the nervous system.

Essentials in Neuroscience II 

This course gives the student an in depth understanding of the functional connections in different parts of the nervous system with a focus on input, modulation and output of local circuits as well as neurodevelopment. Experimental methods on how to isolate complex electrical activity into its components and how that activity may translate to different behavior in the healthy nervous system.  The course takes the principles of cellular and molecular neurobiology taught In Essentials I into a broader context where complex networks of neurons and systems dynamically interact to produce sensation and control. Examples of the visual system, hippocampus and cortex are used to show how unique signal transduction in the nervous system occurs.  Development will cover embryonic differentiation into neural tissue, migration, synapse formation and elimination and gene expression involved in neural and glial ontogeny. In addition, emerging molecular techniques in Neuroscience will also be covered.

Essentials of Neuroscience III 

This course is designed to give the student an overview of different diseases of the nervous system and explore ways to investigate their mechanism of action, or mechanisms by which drugs combat disease or reduce symptoms.  Some topics that will be covered are epilepsy, sleep disorders, stroke and traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's Disease.

Other Course Components of the B.S./M.S. Program in Neuroscience     

Laboratory Techniques

This two week all day intensive course is designed to give B.S./M.S. students exposure to common laboratory techniques used in many biological laboratories today. This course will be given at the beginning of the summer between their Junior and Senior years as part of their summer research experience.  Basic techniques dealing with DNA, RNA and protein will be covered such as running gels, PCR, immunoprecipitation and western blotting.

 Qualifying Exam

Because students will be taking the core courses while also completing their undergraduate studies, the Masters course load is given over a longer period of time. Thus, it may also be difficult to review for a qualifying exam given during the fall or spring semesters.  For this reason, we propose to give students a qualifying exam at the end of the summer before their Senior year.  The material covered will integrate concepts learned from Essentials of Neuroscience I and II and will focus on utilization of their body of knowledge gained in those courses with problem solving and experimental design.

Scientific Integrity

Students in the B.S./M.S. program will participate in year long laboratory research.  Therefore, it is important to learn about the ethics and integrity of research. Students will participate in the class already offered in the graduate school.

Fundamentals of Biostatistics

 Students in the B.S./M.S. program will participate in the same basic statistics course as the MSBR and 2nd year Ph.D. students.

Critical Thinking and Scientific Communication I

Students in the B.S./M.S. program will take the first semester of the course already offered to other students in the graduate school.  This course focuses on analysis and synthesis of scientific presentation.  Students will analyze journal articles and practice scientific writing in a variety of biology disciplines.  In the second semester, B.S./M.S. students will take a companion course specifically designed to study papers in the field of Neuroscience.

Critical Thinking and Scientific Communication in Neuroscience

This course will focus on careful analysis of articles from the Neuroscience literature.  Students will be expected to prepare ahead for an active discussion with classmates and faculty a selected paper each week.  Each week, a different student will present a pre-assigned paper. Articles will cover a range of Neuroscience literature. Students will be expected to apply concepts learned in the companion course, Critical Thinking and Scientific Communication.

Neuroscience Institute Discussions

The Neuroscience Institute holds weekly seminars throughout the academic year.  All academic members of the Institute including students are expected to attend this weekly event. These weekly seminars allow students to learn about the different scientific activities within the institute as well as presentations by scientists invited to the institute.  This gives students a focus in fields of Neuroscience while providing breadth since the interests of inviting faculty within the Institute are varied. Requirement to attend these weekly discussions is akin to the requirement provided by Seminars in Biomedical Sciences in the Masters in Biomedical Sciences curriculum.

Biomedical Sciences Presentation

This requirement will remain the same as in the Masters in Biomedical Sciences program.  Students will satisfy this by presenting research results at Curtis Parker Research Day or an equivalent forum.