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Course Descriptions

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience

Neuroscience has evolved as a vital and dynamic field involving the anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, and physiology of the brain and their relationship to behavior. This range of disciplines combined for the study of a singular and remarkably complex organ (the brain) dictates the need for unique interdisciplinary study. The Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program at the University of Virginia has been developed to provide such an opportunity. It coalesces over 50 faculty from more than 14 departments into a unified program for graduate study, leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Neuroscience.

Prerequisites While there are no rigid prerequisites for admission to the neuroscience program, the optimal background of entering students would include courses in biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, and mathematics. Each subdiscipline of neuroscience requires a different degree of preparation in each of these areas, and students with inadequate backgrounds in the basic biological, physical, and behavioral sciences are required to satisfy the deficiency after admission to the program.

Requirements The program is designed to encourage involvement in research at every stage. Thus, upon admission, students choose advisors based on their areas of interest. The students make their academic home in the advisors' laboratory and engage in research apprenticeships there.

The first-year requirements are designed to provide students with fundamental information for more advanced training. Courses in the first year include a survey course in neurobiology, cell structure and function, and medical neuroscience. Students also work closely with neuroscience graduate program faculty through laboratory apprenticeships in the first year to begin formulation of a research program. During the second year, students take more specialized courses such as developmental neurobiology, neurophysiology, and behavioral and cognitive neuroscience. Completion of all course requirements usually occurs in the second year. It is also during this year that students begin to choose laboratories in which they concentrate research efforts, and begin to formulate a topic for a major area paper used for advancement to candidacy toward the Ph.D. Various laboratory rotations are encouraged during the first two years of training. In the third year, students are expected to pass the major area paper and continue work on projects that may be a portion of their Ph.D. thesis. Completion of requirements for the Ph.D. are contingent on successful presentation and defense of a written proposal, an oral presentation of dissertation work before the neuroscience graduate program, a written thesis, and successful defense of the thesis.

The students' program of courses is developed through close consultation with their faculty advisor. Attention is placed on flexibility in the program. Each student's program is tailored to meet individual needs and interests.

Note There is no foreign language requirement. The neuroscience brochure may be consulted for further information.

This program is administered by the Neuroscience Graduate Committee, which is chaired by Doug Bayliss in the Department of Pharmacology.

1352 Jordan Hall
P.O. Box 801404
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Phone (434) 982-4285 Fax: (434) 243-6549

Course Descriptions


BIO 1505 (3)
Developmental Neurobiology

BIMS 710 (1)
Research Ethics

Formal training in scientific integrity and ethical principles in research.

BIMS 812 (5)
Cell Structure & Function

An analysis of current research on the interrelationships of structure and their functions in bacterial and eukaryotic cells. Special emphasis is placed on the functions of cellular membranes as related to neuromuscular activities and on cellular interactions as related to cancer.

NESC 703 - (5) (Y)

Introduces cellular, molecular, and developmental neuroscience. Includes the cellular and molecular biology of neurons and glia, intercellular signaling in the nervous system, and neuronal development and plasticity. Lectures and directed readings of primary literature.

NESC 706 - (5) (Y)
Fundamentals of Neuroscience

Provides a comprehensive and integrated understanding of the structure and function of the central nervous system. Stresses the structural and functional interrelationships of the various regions of the brain and spinal cord, and the cellular, molecular, and developmental biology of the nervous system. Laboratory sessions include brain dissections and examination of microscopic material.

NESC 707 - (2) (Y)
Tutorial in Fundamentals of Neuroscience

Corequisite: NESC 706.
Examines fundamental issues raised in NESC 706 and reviews literature on a wide range of current topics, such as the molecular basis of neurological disease.

NESC 720 - (3) (Y)
Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience

Covers regulatory systems that operate on behavior, including behavioral neuroscience topics (circadian rhythms, drug addiction, neuroethology, social behavior) and cognitive neuroscience topics (physiology of learning and memory, perception, cognition, aging).

NESC 801, 802 - (2) (S)
Seminar in Neuroscience

Prerequisite: Permission of program director.
Topics of current interest in neuroscience are presented and discussed by both the program faculty and visiting neuroscientists from other institutions.

NESC 808 - (1) (Y)
Neuroscience Graduate Student Seminar Series

Students give forty-five minute presentations to their peers each week. Provides a chance for practice and improvement in giving lectures and an opportunity to receive advice from fellow trainees and attending faculty. Gives all members of the program updates on the progress and scientific interests of the students.

NESC 815, 816, 817, 818 - (2) (S)
Introduction to Research

Prerequisite: Permission of program director
Laboratory experience acquaints the student with applied theory and current techniques in addressing research problems in neuroscience.

NESC 850, 851 - (1-3) (Y)
Directed Readings in Neuroscience

Prerequisite: NESC 706, 707, and 708 or permission of program director.
Selected readings in neuroscience under the direction of a program faculty member.

NESC 997 - (3-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research

For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.

NESC 999 - (3-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research

For doctoral research, under the supervision of a dissertation director.

PHY 862 (2)

Selected topics in neurophysiology, emphasizing synaptic organization of the brain: how neurons convert physical stimuli into the sensations they evoke and how movement is controlled through integrative neuronal action. Explores the mechanisms of learning and memory at the neuronal and molecular levels.

STAT 500 (3)
Introduction to Applied Statistics

Introduces estimation and hypothesis testing in applied statistics, especially the medical sciences. Measurement issues, measure of central tendency and dispersion, probability, discrete probability, distributions (binomial and Poisson), continuous probability distributions (normal, t, chi-square, and F), and one-and two-sample inference, power and sample size calculations, introduction to non-parametric methods, one-way ANOVA and multiple comparisons. Students must enroll in STAT 598 for 1 credit (Applied Statistics Laboratory).

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