Program in Neuroscience
The Department faculty are committed to training leaders of the next generation of neuroscientists. Candidates for the Ph.D. in Neurobiology are admitted to the graduate Program in Neuroscience. This interdepartmental training program links the Department of Neurobiology with faculty in the Harvard affiliated hospitals and with faculty in other basic science departments. The Program, established in 1981, now includes about 90 investigators who participate in the training of Ph.D. candidates. Approximately fifteen students are accepted each year so that the steady state enrollment is usually about 80-90. This Program in Neuroscience attracts superb students with a broad range of interests from all areas of the globe.
The goals of our training are to produce scientists who have explored one area and one level of analysis in great depth, but who are familiar with the full scope of neuroscience. They should be able to move from one level to another in a critical and creative manner. We also try to develop an appreciation for translational research that bears on human brain disease.
During the first one and a half to two years, Ph.D. students select from a series of graduate level courses. Current offerings include:
- Introduction to Neurobiology
Spans modern neuroscience from molecular neurobiology to perception and cognition.
- Cellular Neurophysiology
Introduction to the physiology of neurons and muscle cells.
- Molecular Neurobiology
Introduction to the molecular biology and genetics of the nervous system.
- Developmental Neurobiology
Development of the nervous system.
Neuro Course 207
- Neurobiology of Disease
Patient presentations and core lectures describing clinical aspects of a disease or disorder, the pathology, and the basic science information needed to help in understanding the diseases or disorder.
- Central Nervous System Neurophysiology
Introduction to the physiology of circuits in the vertebrate central nervous system.
- Advanced Topics in Neuroscience
A series of reading and discussion seminars on selected topics in neuroscience.
In addition to the seminars offered within the Department of Neurobiology, students expand their horizons by taking courses in subjects that are not closely related to their area of specialization. In the recent past, our students have selected courses in biochemistry, immunology, genetics, applied mathematics, electronics, embryology, or computer science offered at Harvard College, MIT, or in any of the other graduate programs at the medical school.
Laboratory rotations of at least three months duration are designed to provide hands-on experience in diverse techniques and approaches. Students are expected to complete two rotations. These experiences often serve as the basis for selecting a thesis advisor.
Selected recent Ph.D. theses that illustrate the diversity of research in the Department of Neurobiology:
- Geoffrey Richard Tanner
"K(ATP) Channels, Metabolism, and Neuronal Excitability"
Gary Yellen, advisor
- Nathan Gouwens
"Processing of Neural Signals in the Drosophila Olfactory System"
Rachel Wilson, advisor
- John Nicholas Hunter
"Spatial Integration of Motion Signals in Macaque MT"
Richard Born, advisor
- Camilo Libedinsky
"Neuronal Mechanisms of Visual Perception Role of Early Visual and Prefrontal Cortical Areas in Conscious Awareness"
Margaret Livingstone, advisor
- Pavan Ramdya
"Direction selectivity in the larval zebrafish optic tectum"
Florian Engert, advisor
- Irit Rappley
"Selective Effects of Alpha-Synuclein on Membrane Phospholipids and Mitochondrial Function"
Dennis Selkoe, advisor
- Max Alexander Tischfield
"Human eye movement disorders help identify molecular and genetic etiologies of novel neurological syndromes"
Elizabeth Engle, advisor
- Timothy James Mosca
"Nuclear Import and Synapse to Nucleus Signalling at the Drosophila Neuromuscular Junction"
Thomas Schwarz, advisor
The Program in Neuroscience is one of four programs administered by the Division of Medical Sciences (DMS). DMS, located at the medical school, is a division of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University.
For further information about applications and life within the Program, contact:
Program in Neuroscience
Department of Neurobiology
Harvard Medical School,
220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: (617) 432-0912
Neuroscience Web Site
Applications to the Program can also be obtained from:
Division of Medical Sciences
Harvard Medical School
260 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: (617) 432-0162