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Curriculum

The Neurobiology of Disease Program places a significant emphasis on laboratory-based research training. Laboratory research is complemented with core courses in biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, statistics, critical thinking, and scientific writing. Students also complete track-specific courses in neuroanatomy, basic neuroscience, neurophysiology, and the neurobiology of disease. Advanced courses on current topics in neuroscience are taught in a tutorial format with small groups of faculty and students discussing cutting-edge research in areas such as neural development, neural aging, neurogenetics, addiction, and electrophysiology.

The typical student completes the degree in the following way:

Year 1

  • Introductory neuroscience and core curriculum courses
  • Lab rotations
  • Comprehensive written qualifying examination
  • Critical thinking and scientific writing course
  • Selection of thesis lab

Year 2

  • Oral qualifying exam to determine advancement to candidacy
  • Completion of advanced neuroscience courses
  • Formation of thesis advisory committee
  • Laboratory research

Years 3 to 5+

  • Laboratory research
  • Works-in-progress presentation (annual)
  • Thesis committee meetings (biannual)
  • Elective courses in advanced neuroscience topics

Many of our students complete their Ph.D. requirements in 5 years — our ultimate goal is to reduce didactic coursework, accelerate students to candidacy, and emphasize lab-based, thesis-directed research. In addition to regular coursework, our students are provided with institutional support for travel to advanced courses at such institutions as Cold Spring Harbor and the Marine Biology Lab. Our program also sends every first year neurobiology of disease Ph.D. student to the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting.

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