Neurobiology of Disease (NOD) Track

Objective and Scope of the Training Program

The NOD track provides a training venue within the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP) for medically trained personnel (Clinical Residents) that will emphasize research in basic biomedical mechanisms that contribute to the etiology and expression of diseases of the nervous system.

The unique Ph.D.-training venue is a "track" within the NGP that specializes, either by content or approach, in research related to disease processes and will be focused on providing training to M.D.-degreed advanced trainees, such as residents and fellows.  M.D.-Ph.D. pre-doctoral students and conventional graduate students may also take advantage of course offerings in the track.  Individuals who acquire this additional research training will be better prepared to contribute successfully to the academic enterprise and translational research.  It is anticipated that post-graduate clinical trainees primarily in the following departments or divisions might have interest in such a program:  Anesthesiology, Gastroenterology, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Otolaryngology, Ophthalmology, Pathology, Psychiatry and Radiology.  Because of their position in their career development, it is anticipated that such M.D.-degreed trainees will be attracted to a program that has minimal time requirements, maximal laboratory exposure and significant relevance to one or more neurological psychiatric disorders.

Policies of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) specify that tracks within programs may be highly specialized or unique so long as the core course requirements (or equivalents to them) of the parent program are utilized and that doctoral trainees in such tracks meet requirements for admission to candidacy and writing and defending a doctoral dissertation.  The NOD track meets these criteria and has been approved by the NGP Curriculum Committee and the faculty of the NGP, by the GSBS Curriculum and Executive Committees, by the GSBS faculty, by the Dean of the GSBS, and by the Academic council of Deans.

Curriculum (Overview)

Since postgraduate M.D. trainees entering this program will have already been exposed to a full medical school curriculum as well as specialized clinical experience, it is not anticipated that they will need exposure to most of the coursework currently in place for conventional graduate students in the NGP, including courses in the Basic Biomedical Sciences Curriculum (BBSC) and program-specific courses in the NGP.  However, because modern medical school curricula tend to underemphasize basic sciences details and research exposure, and because it is likely that most of these trainees have had minimal experience with state-of-the art research techniques in molecular biology, genetics, electrophysiology, imaging and other methodologies relevant to modern research, it is advisable that certain courses be developed to assist these trainees in acquiring the skills and background necessary to utilize these technologies and understand their relevance.  A new series of five one-credit -hour core courses (Neurobiology of Disease I-V) for this track that provides a broad overview of the basic sciences underpinnings of most common neurologic diseases is in place.  Basic information can also be acquired through participation in the NGP seminar program and in existing (and new) journal clubs and electives that focus on various diseases, systems or problems in neuroscience.  Methods and techniques can be acquired through laboratory experience and via several "methods courses" offered in various graduate programs.  Developing an appropriate didactic curriculum that requires minimal time but significant transfer of information will be a key element for such a new track.  The trainees will be required to pass a written qualifying examination and to defend their dissertation proposal and dissertation under current program and graduate school policies.  The membership of the Supervisory Committee may be modified so as to incorporate participation by clinical researches or disease experts.

Neuroscience Graduate Program Contacts:

Program Director:
Shao-Jun Tang, Ph.D.
2.104D MRB, Route 1069
Phone Number: (409) 772-1190

Associate Program Director:
Yogi Wairkar, Ph.D.
10.138 MRB, Route 1045
Phone Number: (409) 772-8212

NOD Track Director:
Rakez Kayed, Ph.D.
10.138C MRB, Route 1045
Phone Number: (409) 772-0138

Program Coordinator:
Aurora Galvan
120-E BSB, Route 0625
Phone Number: (409) 772-2124