The proposed program, based in the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience in the Department of Neuroscience, will provide training for predoctoral students in their third through fifth year in the interdisciplinary field of theoretical neuroscience. Trainees will receive dual training in the quantitative methods developed in disciplines such as physics, mathematics, engineering, and computer science and in the experimental approaches developed within biology and neuroscience. Most importantly, they will learn how to apply analytic techniques and modeling approaches to studies of brain function. After completing the program, trainees will be able to bridge the gap between theory and experiment and, lead the way in identifying unifying themes and new principles linking behavior to underlying synaptic, cellular and circuit mechanisms. This will be achieved through a training program that combines rigorous courses in analytic and computational methods with work in the relevant neuroscience laboratories. Trainees include students who work primarily with the theoretical faculty but will have extensive interactions with experimental colleagues as well as with students working in laboratories with dual theory-experimental faculty mentoring. The Center for Theoretical Neuroscience will provide the focal point for the proposed program. The Theory Center consists of a faculty of five full-time and one visiting member, with an additional full-time faculty member to start in the next year or two. Faculty members of Columbia's Program in Neurobiology and Behavior will augment this core group. The Center for Theoretical Neuroscience, with its highly interactive environment and extensive ties to experimental laboratories, provides a unique environment for crossdisciplinary training in theoretical neuroscience. The training program will accept graduate students from the graduate Program in Neurobiology and Behavior and the Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular and Biophysical Studies at Columbia and augment their knowledge as needed to provide them with a rich education in both quantitative and laboratory methods in neuroscience. The training program is designed to develop a new breed of researcher skilled at applying powerful analytic and computational approaches to complex neurobiological systems.
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