Over the 14 year tenure of this Program, Brandeis University has built a multidisciplinary program encompassing faculty in Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry and Psychology. The Program educates students in the full range of Neuroscience topics, from the molecular biology of ion channels to the cognitive effects of aging. The uniqueness of this Brandeis Neuroscience Program has less to do with the breadth of educational options than with the fact that most students actually take advantage of that breadth. Each member of the faculty collaborates with multiple others, and most projects involve several levels of analysis. Students are part of an intellectually and spatially integrated neuroscience community. The resulting cohesion is reflected in every aspect of the program: coursework, rotations, thesis supervision, the general availability of advanced instrumentation, and the collegiality of interactions. Students enter Neuroscience from a remarkably wide variety of different backgrounds (Psychology, Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science, Engineering, and Mathematics). The breadth of opportunity and interaction at Brandeis University allows each student to develop according to her/his individual needs, and results in a low attrition rate. While the Program is relatively small, over the last five years it has graduated 28 students (five of whom were members of underrepresented minority groups). A strong aspect of the Program is the integration of computational and experimental neuroscience. Emphasis is placed on making sure that students gain exposure to quantitative issues. Students graduate with excellent credentials, and go on to obtain excellent positions in academia and industry. The program of course work, rotations, multiple small-group colloquia, proposition examinations, and participation in teaching necessarily consumes the bulk of a student's time during the first two years. They cannot (and would not) have their laboratory research as their sole focus prior to their third year at Brandeis University. Therefore, they are not supported on research grants in these first critical years. This Training Program provides crucial funding to support students while they develop a broad set of intellectual skills. There are 23 mentors in the Program, and funds for ten trainees per year are requested.

Public Health Relevance

The goal of the Neuroscience Program is to understand brain function and to provide new strategies and therapies for the treatment of diseases of the brain. Training in neuroscience is particularly challenging because of the very broad range of information required. The Training Program is designed to give young scientists the intellectual and technical depth to make major contributions to the treatment of brain disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1-MRG-C (32))
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Desmond, Nancy L
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Brandeis University
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