Research in neuroscience extends from studies on the molecular biology of individual nerve cells to the biological basis of normal and disordered behavior and cognition. Studies in the areas of cellular and molecular neurobiology continue to be instrumental in defining how cells in the nervous system carry out complex motor, sensory, and cognitive processes. Other than trauma, genetic abnormalities underlie the vast majority of neurological disorders. Thus, studies at the molecular, cellular, and systemic level are essential for understanding the mechanisms of disease processes as well as defining resulting phenotypes.
Research emphasis by faculty in this area includes studies focused on the development and plasticity of neural circuits, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, neuromuscular diseases, movement disorders, neuroimmunology, neurotrauma and regeneration of circuits in the nervous system, circadian cycle neurobiology. Many faculty members have research interests in one or more of these areas of study. As a group, the neuroscience faculty work together to provide students with both a broad and deep knowledge of the nervous system as well as an opportunity to carry out focused research in a selected area of neuroscience interest.
The core curriculum will provide the major foundation for graduate students requesting the transcript designation of neurological and neuromuscular disorders. All students requesting the transcript designation "Neurological and Neuromuscular Disorders" will be required to register in relevant classes to reach a total of 15 credit hours beyond the core curriculum. The one required course will provide a basic background in the organization of the nervous system that is essential for all students who want the designation on their transcript. In addition, students are required to enroll in the neuroscience seminar course or in a seminar series specifically related to the neurobiology of disease.
Students requesting the graduate specialization transcript designation “Neurological and Neuromuscular Disorders” must register for one of the following required courses:
- NEUROSC 7001 Foundations of Neuroscience I (6 credits): Discusses basic principles of the cellular, molecular and neurophysiological, and neuropharmacological organization of the nervous system.
- NEUROSC 7002 Foundations of Neuroscience II (6 credits)
There are several subspecialties in neuroscience. Thus, students, with the consent of their advisory committee, can choose appropriate elective courses. Suggested but not required neuroscience-related courses include:
- NEUROSC 5790H - Developmental Neuroscience (3 credits, spring, TR 11:10am-12:30pm): This course investigates the molecular, cellular and genetic mechanisms responsible for building nervous systems. The brain is a complex structure, yet it develops from a single sheet of cells. We will discuss how this development tolerates tremendous genetic and environmental variability to assemble a functioning nervous system.
- MOLGEN 5701 - DNA Transactions and Gene Regulation (4 credits, MWF 1:50-2:45pm): This course aims to understand the mechanisms of DNA replication, DNA repair and recombination, transcription, translation, regulation of gene expression, and the experimental approaches to these topics.
- NEUROSC 7050 – Neurobiology of Disease (3 credits, TR 1:00-3:00pm): This course centers on a discussion of both the syptomatology and pathology of neurological diseases as well as a review of the current state of basic and clinical research efforts. Classes will consist of lectures from both physicians and research scientists who specialize in neurological diseases.
- NEUROSC 7500 - Neuroimmunology (2 credits): This course discusses research and clinical applications of inflammatory processes within the central nervous system with special emphasis on neurodegenerative disorders, autoimmune disease, and neurotrauma (e.g. spinal injury).
- NGSY 8250 - Biology of the Tumor Microenvironment (2 credits, fall, W 9:00-11:00am): This course ecplores the cellular and molecular aspects of the microenvironment in solid cancers including signals and mechanisms that promote tumor initiation and progression.
Students must also register for at least four credits (i.e. 4 semesters) of NEUROGS seminar:
- NEUROGS 7887 - Seminar Topics in Neuroscience (1 credit per semester)
Alternatively, students may pursue a graduate minor in neuroscience. This requires 12 credit hours; students are required to take either NEUROSC 7001 or NEUROSC 7002. Additional hours may be obtained by taking neuroscience electives. If the minor is chosen, the seminar requirement is optional, but strongly encouraged. Further information about the minor may be found on the neuroscience graduate program website.