Course Descriptions

Year One

Fall Semester


Biochemistry & Gene Regulation (5 credit hrs):

One semester course includes metabolism; enzyme structure, kinetics and mechanisms; RNA, DNA, and protein biogenesis; DNA repair and recombination; cell cycle control, cancer genetics. Classroom time includes lectures, discussions, and demonstrations using traditional and alternative teaching methods.


Molecular Cell Biology (5 credit hrs):

This course focuses on the study of the cell as the fundamental structural and functional unit of which all living organisms are constructed. Cell biology serves as a bridge between molecular biology, basic biochemistry, physiology, and morphology at the gross anatomical level and is increasingly a principle area of focus for biomedical research. In this course, the properties of cells are analyzed initially by viewing the structural organization, functional interactions, and biogenesis of cellular components with particular emphasis on understanding of processes involved in regulating the specific composition and interactions of cellular organelles. This forms a basis for the subsequent consideration of cell-cell interactions at the cellular and the tissue level. One semester course includes classroom time lectures, discussion, and demonstrations using traditional and alternative teaching methods.


Introduction to Faculty Research (2 credit hrs):

An introduction to all of the research topics currently being conducted by Biomedical Sciences graduate faculty. This course helps students choose a laboratory for their research rotations.


Introduction to Research I (2 credit hrs):

Three mini rotations in research laboratories. Students should become familiar with the various activities of the laboratories.


Responsible Conduct of Research (1 credit hr):

This course will provide an overview, via lecture and discussion, of critical issues related to the responsible conduct of research. In addition, it will fulfill the requirements established by the Office of Research Integrity and the Public Health Service for ensuring that PHS-supported researchers are provided adequate instruction in conducting responsible research and ensuring integrity of the research record


Scientific Communication (1 credit hr):

This course focuses on writing and presentation skills needed for a career in biomedical sciences. It provides basic instruction in writing abstracts, curriculum vitae, and grant applications as well as how to organize and give oral scientific presentations. Also covered are basic aspects related to teaching skills needed in the biomedical classroom and laboratory.

Year One
Spring Semester

Integrated Systems Biology (6 credit hrs):

One semester course includes basic anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology of all the organ systems. Special topics also covered include integrated biosystems and feedback, physiological genomics, modern drug discovery, and hot research topics. Classroom time includes lectures, discussion, and demonstrations using traditional and alternative teaching methods.


Introduction to Research II (4 credit hrs):

Individualized instruction in two research laboratories. For each laboratory, students should master at least one laboratory technique and become familiar with the various activities of the laboratory. Students will spend half of the semester in each laboratory.


Neuroscience I (4 credit hrs):

Drs. Eric Vitriol and Danielle More, Course Directors - This course, with its companion course Neuroscience II, has the goal of providing our students with a solid foundation in neuroscience. Neuroscience I will cover a variety of topics including basic neuroanatomy, cell and molecular biology of neurons and synapses, neurotransmitters and neurosecretion, development of the nervous system, including neurogenesis and migration, cellular determination, growth cones and axon pathfinding, programmed cell death, and synapse formation and elimination, as well as the somatosensory system, vision, audition, taste and olfaction. Each lecture has a corresponding student-led journal club presentation to illustrate the actual science behind key concepts discussed in lectures.

Year One
Summer Semester

Biomedical Statistics (3 credit hrs):

This course offers an introduction to the majority of statistical techniques used to analyze and interpret data in the biomedical sciences and related fields. Emphasis is on applications of these methods, with the following topics covered: graphical methods, probability, discrete and continuous distributions, inferential statistics (estimation and hypothesis testing for the one and two-sample case) for numeric and categorical data, non-parametric methods, one-way ANOVA, simple linear regression, correlation, factorial ANOVA (fixed and random effects), multiple linear regression and correlation, ANCOVA, logistic regression, longitudinal data analysis, and survival analysis.

Year Two
Fall Semester

Neuroscience II (4 credit hrs): 

Drs. Hedong Li and Xin-Yun Lu, Course Directors - The goal of this course, with its companion course Neuroscience I, is to provide our students with a broad and solid foundation in neuroscience. Neuroscience II will cover: 1) lectures of the organization of the functional neural systems to direct and mediate movements, appetite, sleep and wakefulness, motivation, cognition, attention, memory, emotion, and executive actions; 2) neurological and psychiatric diseases and conditions, including spinal cord and brain injury, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and epilepsy; and 3) new technologies for neuroscience such as virtual reality, in vivo two-photon imaging, whole-brain tissue clearing and imaging, CRISPR gene editing and big data modeling. Each lecture has a corresponding student-led journal club presentation to encourage in depth analysis about specific topics. The goal is to broaden students’ knowledge of physiological and pathological processes in the nervous system and strengthen students’ critical thinking skills. All students are expected to participate in discussions.


Neuroscience Seminar (1 credit hr):

This course will give students exposure to neuroscience research from visiting neuroscientists. Students will attend seminars and have an opportunity to talk with the seminar speaker during lunch.

Year Two
Other Coursework

Advanced Topics in Neuroscience - Neuroscience Journal Club (1 credit hr):

Dr. Krishnan Dhandepani, Director - This is a highly focused course designed to provide students with in-depth discussions of current topics in Neuroscience. The emphasis of the course will be on the presentation and discussion of a recently published paper and closely related background works. Class time will consist of a student-led lecture and discussions, facilitated by Neuroscience faculty. Each weekly presenter will be mentored by a Neuroscience faculty member. That week's student will present comprehensive background of the topic of discussion, followed by critical evaluation of scientific papers taken from recent primary literature. The presentation will use Powerpoint or equivalent software on a projector, with the student leading the presentation. This course will provide students both with comprehensive knowledge of Neuroscience and increased experience with reading, presenting and critically analyzing scientific literature.

Neuroscience Electives

Students will choose a minimum of two (2) semester hours of graduate level elective courses. Students will select specific courses in consultation with their research advisor, thesis advisory committee and the Director of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience to best compliment their research interests and career goals.


Clinical Neuroscience (4 credit hrs):

This elective course will give students intensive clinical exposure to neurological, psychiatric and ophthalmic disorders. Students will attend daily lectures that cover neurological disorders for one month and then choose a clinical rotation experiences from a list of opportunities that combine clinical experience, diagnosis, treatment and basic research. For example, during the epilepsy rotation students will shadow physicians in the epilepsy clinic, be involved with EEG conferences, neuroimaging, and epilepsy surgery. Students will observe experiments utilizing human brain tissue from epilepsy surgery in basic neuroscience research in the Human Brain Lab


Graduate Neuroanatomy (4 credit hrs):

This highly recommended elective is a 4 hr course that lasts only one month. The course will acquaint you with the anatomy of the human nervous system through the use of lectures and your personal dissection of the human cadaver brain. It will provide you with a rare opportunity to see and study many of the structures and relationships that will be important to you in your neuroscience research and career.


Neuropharmacology (4 credit hrs):

This elective course has been designed to provide the student with an in depth overview of the basic science as well as clinical issues associated with the pathogenesis and pharmacological management of major neurologic and psychiatric diseases suffered by humans.


Advanced Neural and Endocrine Systems (2 credit hrs):

This elective course has been designed to provide the student with an in depth overview of the basic science as well as clinical issues associated with the pathogenesis and pharmacological management of major neurologic and psychiatric diseases suffered by humans.