Program in Neuroscience
Director: Michael T. Shipley, PhD
Professor and Chairman, Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology
The University of Maryland Baltimore offers an inter-disciplinary program of study leading to a PhD degree in neuroscience under the aegis of the Graduate Program in Life Science. The program offers research training in a wide range of brain sciences, including cellular, molecular and integrative neuroscience. Research training programs investigate a wide range of issues, at levels ranging from ion channels and single cells to complex subsystems of the mammalian brain and regulation of behavior. These include studies focusing on Biological Mechanisms of Learning & Memory, Synaptic Physiology & Plasticity, Developmental Neurobiology, Pain Mechanisms, Neuroprotection & Brain Injury, Mechanisms of Dementia and Psychiatric Disorders, Brain and Reproductive Function, Genetic Basic of Brain Functions, Taste and Smell, Drug Discovery, Neuromuscular Functions & Disorders.
There are over 80 faculty members in the Program in Neuroscience. These faculty members are widely recognized as experts in neuroscience research and the treatment of neurological disorders. They function in state-of-the-art research and clinical facilities. In addition, they compete successfully for high levels of national grant funding. Faculty members have numerous collaborative teaching and supervisory interactions, which provide cohesiveness to the program and abundant opportunities for students, residents and fellows to obtain experience in interdisciplinary neuroscience studies. With over 35,000 square feet of space in laboratories of the participating faculty and more than 4,000 square feet of common equipment rooms, the Program in Neuroscience facilities include all the basic equipment needed for electrophysiological, behavioral, optical, ultrastructural, immunological and molecular neurobiological studies.
Program faculty employ a wide variety of state-of-the-art techniques. At the molecular level investigators study the structure, function and membrane organization of ion channels and neurotransmitter receptors. Using in vitro techniques (e.g., tissue culture and brain slices), investigators study intrinsic cellular properties as well as interactions between cells in simple cell assemblies or systems with various techniques: electrophysiology (patch clamp, single channel, intracellular), functional imaging (calcium imaging, voltage-sensitive dyes), cell biology ("caged" compounds, confocal microscopy, immunocytochemistry, histochemistry), and molecular biology (DNA cloning, gene transcription, oocyte expression and transgenic mice).
Neurochemical methods are used to investigate the activation of neurotransmitter receptors, second messenger production and the sequelae of these processes. Sensory systems (vision, audition, olfaction, pain, touch and taste) are studied with electrophysiological, behavioral and neuroanatomical techniques. At complex organizational levels, investigators study hormonal control of gene expression in the regulation of sexually dimorphic behaviors, neuronal cell death and the neurobiological basis of psychiatric illnesses. Behavioral and imaging (fMRI) studies in humans address the neurobiology of speech and language disorders, and pain mechanisms.
The inter-departmental Program in Neuroscience has laboratories located in the Medical, Dental and Pharmacy Schools, and the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. Program faculty have numerous collaborations, which provide abundant opportunities for students to obtain experience in interdisciplinary neuroscience studies.
PROGRAM OF STUDY
The graduate curriculum is tailored to meet each student's research interests and career goals. The training program stresses hands-on experience in a wide variety of state-of-the art approaches and techniques. This experience is gained through a series of rotations in different laboratories, to gain familiarity with various techniques and scientific environments.
All students complete a one-semester core course "Mechanisms in Biomedical Science" in the Fall semester. This course provides a comprehensive overview of current knowledge in cellular, molecular, and structural biology and prepares students for subsequent specialized studies. In addition students take courses in "Cognitive and systems neuroscience" andBiostatistics and Bioethics. The program offers a wide variety of advanced courses, covering all areas of modern neuroscience research.
First-year students also attend Professor's Rounds in Neuroscience, an informal series of talks by faculty designed to introduce the faculty and their research interests and to provide the students with exposure to faculty whose labs they may then select to do several laboratory rotations. In addition, students participate in journal clubs and seminars. The program offers a variety of activities designed to advance students' career development, including courses on writing grant applications and scientific papers, communication skills, and instruction on employment opportunities in academia, industry and science policy and administration.
Laboratory rotations and coursework are completed by the end of the second year in the program, at which point the student will have selected a faculty mentor and dissertation laboratory. Successful completion of a qualifying exam at the end of the second year enables the student to advance to candidacy for the PhD degree. As a PhD candidate, the student's primary focus is on research, with continued attendance at journal clubs and seminars.
Students accepted into the program receive financial support from NIH-funded training grants and from University of Maryland Baltimore sources. The stipend for 2008 is $25,000 plus tuition remission and student health insurance. Financial support is available for the duration of time required to complete the PhD, which typically takes four to six years. There are currently no teaching requirements for graduate students, although teaching opportunities are available for qualified, interested students.
HOW TO APPLY
Successful applicants have a bachelor's degree with training in an appropriate major field, strong letters of recommendation and high GPAs and GRE scores. International students must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam. Although applications are reviewed throughout the year, students are encouraged to apply before February 1. Admission to the program is highly competitive, and acceptances are made as qualified candidates are identified.
Application forms can be obtained by contacting the program administrator via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can fill out the on-line inquiry form and we will send you an application, or you can go directly to the official graduate admission form and fill out an on-line application.