Science at the heart of medicine

7402 Developmental Neuroscience

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This 13-week course will cover cellular and molecular principles underlying the construction of a functioning nervous system. The course will begin with overviews of neurogenesis, neural patterning and axon guidance, as well as an introduction to neuroembryology, grant proposal writing and relevant experimental techniques.  Subsequent classes will focus on neural induction, patterning of the neuraxis, neural stem cell biology, growth factors/cytokines and relevant signaling mechanisms, neurogenesis, gliogenesis, epigenetics and the nervous system, forebrain development, neuronal cell death, axon guidance and dendrite branching mechanisms, synapse formation, developmental disorders and neural circuit formation. Throughout the course, insights gained from both vertebrate and invertebrate model systems will be discussed.  Prior to each class, students will be provided with original research articles and reviews as background and preparatory reading.  Each of these classes will involve the presentation of material from faculty members at Einstein and neighboring institutions (five guest class leaders) and require active student participation in the spirited discussion of current topics within each subfield.  Eight Student Synopsis and Discussion sections, during which the course leaders facilitate student-centric discussion of original research reports in each subfield, will be distributed throughout this 13-week course.  During the course, each student must prepare an original grant proposal on a topic of his or her choice within the field of Developmental Neuroscience and then prepare written critiques of their peers’ proposals and present them orally at two student study sections.  The 13-week duration is required to provide sufficient time for the students to develop an original grant proposal and have it subjected to two rounds of constructive peer review (see “unique training offered”, below).

REQUIRED MATERIALS: Fundamental Neuroscience (3rd Edition); Squire, LR et al., 2008; Principles of Neural Science (4th Edition); Kandel et al., 2000

PREREQUISITES: Undergraduate courses in Developmental Biology, Molecular Genetics and Neuroscience are recommended, but not required. There are no graduate course prerequisites.

STUDENT PREPARATION: A rudimentary understanding of the conceptual underpinnings of developmental biology, neuronal development/neuroanatomy and genetics, as well as the techniques utilized to characterize mRNA/protein expression patterns, and familiarity with in vitro and in vivo model systems used to study gene/protein function would be helpful, but is not required.


UNIQUE TRAINING OFFERED IN THIS COURSE: Writing and critiquing (written and oral) of original grant proposals. There is no overlap with existing courses.

STUDENT ASSESSMENTS: Grant Proposal (final version graded by course directors):  50%; Critique of peers’ grant proposals at the two Student Study Sections:  25%; Active Participation in all classes, especially the eight course director-facilitated Student Synopsis and Discussion sessions distributed throughout this 13-week course: 25%