Skip to main content

Neuroscience Graduate Program (NEUR) NEUR Course Descriptions

Information About the Course of Study

Information About the Course of Study

  • A. Course Requirements
  • B. Minimal Performance Criteria
  • C. Elective Courses
  • D. Laboratory Rotations
  • E. Seminars

icon_note   Note: Click on course titles to access the description. BBSC courses will take you to the BBSC course description page.

Neuroscience Graduate Program (NEUR) Course Descriptions

Laboratory Rotations (NEUR 6042)

The objectives of this required course are to provide students an opportunity to become familiar with the faculty and their research efforts in the Neuroscience Program by participating in the activities of the laboratory (gaining supervised, hands-on experience with techniques and experimental protocols) and by becoming acquainted with the laboratory staff and the goals of the research project. Students will be taught by discussions with the instructor, by reading relevant literature and by active participation in laboratory procedures. The long-term goal of this course is to provide exposure to a variety of experimental approaches and to help in the identification of a supervisory professor and dissertation project. Neuroscience Program students are required to spend at least 3 credit hours in each of three different laboratories (that is, do three different rotations), and must complete the three rotations before the end of their fifth term in the program. Grading is, B, C, F and based on participation in lab discussions and experiments.

3-8 credits
Term offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Laboratory, 9-24 (variable)
Instructors: Staff


Research (NEUR 6097)

Formal research directed toward development of the dissertation research for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Grading will be based upon the student's level of performance as reported by the student's research supervisor and will be assigned as satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

1-8 Credits
Term offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Year offered: Annually


Dissertation (NEUR 6099)

Formal research and writing leading to the preparation and completion of the dissertation for the Doctor of Philosophy degree under the direction of the student's supervisory committee. Grading will be based upon the student's level of performance as reported by the chairperson of the student's supervisory committee and will be assigned as satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

3-9 credits
Prerequisite: Admission to candidacy for the PhD degree
Term offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Year offered: Annually
Students registering for Dissertation are expected to register for a full-time course load.


Neural Development & Neurogenetics (NEUR 6140)

The diverse functions of the nervous system, ranging from sensory perception, motor coordination to motivation and memory, depend on the precise interconnections of billions of neurons. This course covers both general principles and specific topics in the development, plasticity, degeneration and regeneration of the nervous system. We will focus on genetic and cellular factors that control the production and survival of neurons, guide axons, and regulate the formation of synapses. Other specific topics include development-related degeneration and the function of stem cells during development and neural repair. The course will have two components: background introduction and critical reading of original articles. Students will be evaluated based on their knowledge, acquisition/preparedness, critical thinking/problem-solving skills and participation/communication skills in group.

1 credit
Term offered: Fall
Year offered: Biennially-Even Years
Hours per week: Lecture, 1; Conference and discussion, 2
Instructor: Dr. Ping Wu


Neurobiology of Disease I (NEUR 6181)

This course will explore the mechanisms, nature and neurobiology of proteinaceous deposits in protein misfolding diseases, including dementias. Other courses in this sequence will address other mechanisms and diseases of the nervous system. The course will meet once per week and will consist of 1 hour lecture followed by 1 hour faculty-lead discussions of recent literature related to the topic. The introductory lecture will initiate each topic, but successive classes will consist of student-generated discussion of assigned papers from the literature. Grades will be assigned based on student participation. This sequence of Neurobiology of Disease (NOD) courses is designed for students in the Neurobiology of Disease track and the Neuroscience Graduate Program, for MD-PhD students in neuroscience, and for any other graduate student interested in neurobiological diseases.

1 credit
Prerequisite: Graduate Level Neuroscience Course
Term offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Conference or discussion, 1
Instructor: Dr. Jose Barral
Course Directors: Dr. Rakez Kayed, Dr. Yogesh Wairkar


Neurobiology of Disease II (NEUR 6182)

This course will examine the newly emerging importance of how defects in nucleic acid post-transcriptional processing/splicing, nuclear and cellular transport, RNA toxicity, and RAN mediated translation impact neurodegenerative diseases. The course will meet once per week and will consist of1 hour lecture followed by a 1 hour faculty-led discussion of the recent literature related to the topic. Introductory lectures will orient students in the field with seminal works and finding, while subsequent meetings will be driven by student-generated discussion of assigned papers from the literature that develop or challenge current dogma.

1 credit Prerequisite: Graduate Level Neuroscience Course
Term offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Conference or discussion, 1
Instructor: Dr. Jose Barral
Course Directors: Dr. Partha Sarkar, Dr. Rakez Kayed


Neurobiology of Disease III (NEUR 6183)

This course will explore the basic mechanisms of injury of neurotrauma and stroke as they pertain to the brain and spinal cord. This course will also feature discussions pertaining to therapeutics and medical interventions in the preclinical development phase. Other courses in this sequence will address relevant diseases of the nervous system. This course will meet once per week and will consist of faculty-led discussions of recent literature. An introductory lecture will initiate each topic, but successive classes will consist of student-generated discussion of assigned papers from the literature. Students will be graded based on the quality of their preparation and their ability to lead and contribute to classroom discussions. This sequence of Neurobiology of Disease (NOD) courses is designed for students in the NOD track of the Neuroscience Graduate Program, for MD-PhD students in neuroscience, and for any other graduate student interested in neurobiological diseases, from their clinical manifestations to the basic science underpinnings of their etiology and expression. This course has the option to be offered any term of any year with no permission requested. Grading system is standard A-F.

1 credit
Prerequisite: Graduate Level Neuroscience Course
Term offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Conference or discussion, 1
Instructor: Dr. Jose Barral
Course Director: Dr. Rakez Kayed


Neurobiology of Disease IV (NEUR 6184 )

This course will explore the nature and basic mechanisms of neurobiological diseases related to ophthalmic/retinal diseases. The retina is an extension of the brain and has been recognized as a "window" of the brain. This course is to introduce retinal neurobiology in the context of major retinal diseases that lead to blindness and to discuss the potential association between neurological changes in the retina and brain diseases. Other courses in this sequence will address other diseases of the nervous system. The course will meet once per week and will consist of faculty-led discussions, lectures, paper reading and discussion. Evaluation will be based on attendance and active participation. Students will be graded based on the quality of their presentation and their ability to lead and contribute to classroom discussions. Grading system is standard A-F.

1 credit
Prerequisite: Graduate Level Neuroscience Course
Term offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Conference or discussion, 1
Instructor: Dr. Jose Barral
Course Directors: Dr. Yan Chen, Dr. Wenbo Zhang


Neurobiology of Disease V (NEUR 6185)

This course will explore the nature and basic mechanisms of neurobiological diseases related to addiction and chronic pain. The objective of this course is specifically to expose students to the interface of basic science with clinical practice for the better understanding of mechanisms and treatment of addiction and chronic pain. Other courses in this sequence will address other diseases of the nervous system. The course will meet once per week at the noon hour and will consist of faculty-led discussions of recent literature related to the disease entities. An introductory lecture will initiate each disease topic, but successive classes will consist of student-generated discussion of assigned papers from the literature. Grades will be assigned based on student participation on an A-F scale. This sequence of Neurobiology of Disease (NOD) courses is designed for students in the NOD track of the Neuroscience Graduate Program, for MD/PhD students in neuroscience, and for any other graduate student interested in neurobiological diseases, from their clinical manifestations to the basic science underpinnings of their etiology and expression.

1 credit
Prerequisite: Graduate Level Neuroscience Course
Term offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Conference or discussion, 1
Instructor: Dr. Jose Barral
Course Directors: Dr. Thomas Green, Dr. Shao-Jun Tang


Seminar (NEUR 6195)

The objectives of this course are to: 1) expose the students to a wide range of current topics in neuroscience and 2) provide the students with experience in organizing and presenting seminars. Exposure to current topics in neuroscience will be accomplished by required attendance at seminars presented by local and visiting scientists. Experience in organizing and presenting seminars will be obtained by requiring the students to organize and present a seminar each year until students are admitted to candidacy. Their performance will be evaluated by the program faculty. Entry-level students present seminars based on original literature in a selected topic area. Advanced students will be expected to present literature and experimental data related to their research experiences. Grading when enrolled for attendance only will be S/U. Grading when presenting will be A, B, C, F based on performance and continued attendance at other seminars.

1 credit
Term offered: Fall, Spring, Summer (Required every term student is enrolled)
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Seminar, 1
Instructor: Dr. Sue Carlton (organized and administered by program Advisory Committee)
Course Director: Chairman, Program Advisory Committee


Teaching in Neuroscience (NEUR 6220)

The objectives of this elective course are to provide students with an opportunity to gain experience in how to teach and to enhance their knowledge of neuroscience. Students will participate in teaching and discussion in the laboratories of the Neuroscience and Human Behavior course (NEUR 6503), which is offered to graduate students and medical students. The students have two one-hour discussion session with faculty lab instructors each week to review the material to be covered in lab and to practice teaching skills. They will then assist in two two-hour laboratory sessions each week. Students will be expected to review material in a group session in the lab, answer questions, point out and explain structures and functional relationships of laboratory specimens, assist with demonstrations and examinations, and assist in setting up and organizing lab materials. Grading will be based on knowledge of material (20%), ability to present reviews to class clearly (40%), ability to interact effectively with small groups in lab (20%), and participation in preparatory sessions and demonstrations (20%).

2 credits
Prerequisite: NEUR 6503, NEUR 6403, or consent of instructor
Term offered: Spring
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Conference or discussion, 1, Laboratory, 4
Instructor: Dr. Owen Hamill


Synapses: Development & Degeneration (NEUR 6221)

Synapses are fundamental units of communication in a nervous system that is composed of roughly a billion neurons. Almost all of the neurodegenerative disorders disrupt synapses and since they play such a central role in neuronal communication, this leads to a dramatic decrease in cognitive abilities of patients suffering with these debilitating disorders. The course will start with a brief introduction to synapse development and maintenance, leading into the molecular mechanisms of synapse degeneration in neurodegenerative disorders. The course aims to provide students with the essentials required to understand, and ask questions about molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration.

2 credits
Prerequisite: None
Term offered: Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Conference or discussion, 2.
Instructors: Dr. Yogesh Wairkar, Dr. Rakez Kayed


Neuroscience in Infectious Disease (NEUR 6226)

Sequelae are defined as a condition resultant of disease, typically a chronic complication of an acute illness. Neurological sequelae are those complications involving the brain and central nervous system and can include intellectual disability, seizures, emotional instability, vision loss, and hearing loss. Although many infections may lead to sequelae, the related pathology and the mechanisms associated with sequelae have not been fully identified. Recent outbreaks of Ebola and Zika virus have further exemplified the need for models to study the development of these conditions.

a) The objective of this course is to provide an overview of the immune response to viruses, bacteria and parasites, the neuroimmune response, neuroanatomy, CNS structural and functional domains, the blood brain barrier, and examples of viral, bacterial, and parasitic encephalopathies with particular focus on route of entry to the CNS (if known), specific neuroimmune responses (if known), and susceptible brain regions (if known). b) Teaching techniques to be employed will be didactic lectures and journal club presentations c) Methods of evaluation will be a 1) final exam, 2) journal club presentation d) Basis for grading will be 1) class participation, 2) in-class exams, 3) attendance, 4) journal club presentation.

2 credits
Prerequisite: None
Term offered: Spring
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture, 2.
Course Directors: Dr. Kelly Dineley, Dr. Dennis Bente


Behavioral Neuroscience (NEUR 6325 )

The discipline of neuroscience has long used rodents as model organisms. Currently, genetically altered mice are widely used to test specific hypothesis regarding the neural substrates of learning and memory as well as the mechanisms underlying neuro-psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. The widespread use of transgenic and knockout mice in neuroscience research necessitates using behavior as an assay to evaluate CNS function.

The didactic component of this course will provide a general background in behavioral neuroscience with an emphasis on understanding the anatomical (and neurochemical) pathways that underlie different rodent behaviors. The laboratory component will provide basic skills in assessing the behavioral phenotype of genetically altered mouse models, data analysis, and experimental design. This includes skills in performing an evaluation of rodent general health, reflexes, motor and sensory function, feeding and drinking behavior, emotional behaviors, learning and memory and reward/addiction-like behaviors. There are no exams; grades are based on performance in laboratory assignments and the presentation of a written behavioral neuroscience research proposal (~10 pages, NIH-NRSA format). This course will prepare Neuroscience and Neuropharmacology students for future work using and validating rodent neuro-behavioral models and is also suitable for students interested in utilizing genetically altered mouse models in their research.

2 credits
Prerequisite: None
Term offered: Spring
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: Lecture, 2
Instructor: Dr. Kelly Dineley


Integrative Neuroscience (NEUR 6403 )

This required course will form a basis for understanding the organization, functions and disorders of the nervous system. We will study the neurobiological mechanisms of major sensory, motor, emotional-affective and cognitive functions and dysfunctions. The format will be two weekly sessions of lectures with discussion about important concepts and current topics in neuroscience that focus on critical features of integrative nervous system functions: organizational principles of the nervous system, integration among systems, synaptic and cellular plasticity in physiological and disease states, and underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms. Grades will be based on class participation and on midterm and final written examinations.

4 credits
Term offered: Summer
Year offered: Annually
Hours per week: 4
Instructor: Dr. Owen Hamill