Research Proposal Example, Neuroscience by wsq14662

VIEWS: 1,131 PAGES: 18

More Info
									                                       Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience

                                                    Georgetown University

                                                     Graduate Guide Book

                                                        Table of Contents

Degree Requirements--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------2

Program of Study -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------2
     Courses -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3
     Transfer credit ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------8
     Lab Rotations -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------8
     Teaching opportunities -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------9

Comprehensive Examinations Guidelines---------------------------------------------------------------------9
    Written Comprehensive Exams------------------------------------------------------------------------------10
    Oral Comprehensive Exams---------------------------------------------------------------------------------10
     Student Timeline-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------11

Thesis Research-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------12
     Thesis Advisory Committee----------------------------------------------------------------------------------13
     Thesis Proposal-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------13
     Requirement for first author publication-------------------------------------------------------------------13
     Student Research Days---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------14
     Travel grants-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------14

Tuition/Stipend Support---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------14

Practical Information-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------15
      GU Student Insurance ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------15
             Student Primary Care Clinic-------------------------------------------------------------------------15
             Counseling Services----------------------------------------------------------------------------------15
      Housing -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------15
      Recreational Center-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------16

Supplementary Information ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------17
     Faculty of IPN----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------17
     Committees in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience--------------------------------------17
           Executive Committee
           Admissions Committee
           Curriculum Committee
           Student Advisory Committee
                                                                                                     rev 2010

                                           Degree Requirements

    All students in the neuroscience program are required to maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average for
all coursework. In addition, Journal Club and Research Seminars must be attended. Students must
accumulate a total of 40 credits (including any transfer credits) to satisfy the requirements of the Graduate
School for the awarding of the Ph.D. These 40 credits do not include credit for the thesis research or
research rotations. The written and oral comprehensive examinations must be passed before entering
thesis research. Thesis students are expected to attend at least one relevant journal club and research
seminar series until completion of the program. In certain other areas, program performance requirements
exceed those described in the catalogue for The Graduate School in general.

                                             Program of Study

The current predoctoral trainees in the IPN are enrolled in the Graduate School at Georgetown University
and follow a program of study that leads to the Ph.D. in Neuroscience. At present, Neuroscience is one of
two interdisciplinary, nondepartmental, Ph.D. - granting programs at the University.

Training of Ph.D. students in Neuroscience is based on a combination of required and elective didactic
course work, formal interactive learning situations (Critical Readings Course, Journal Club, Student
Seminar), the more informal student-faculty interactions experienced during Laboratory Research Rotations
and, most importantly, the student-mentor interactions through which the Thesis Research is directed. The
course work and laboratory research rotations are accomplished in the first two years of the Program.
Before the end of this period (as early as the beginning of the second year), a Thesis Mentor and an area of
Thesis Research are identified. Although no credit is given for Neurolunch and Seminar, these activities are
required for all years. During the first two years all students are expected to participate in Journal Club,
although no credits will be given.

The training needs of each Ph.D. student are highly individualized, therefore a specific curriculum will need
to be developed by each student with the advice and approval of the student‘s faculty Advisor, the SAC and,
when chosen, the Thesis Mentor. Because incoming students will not have a Thesis Mentor until their
second or third year, upon admission, they are encouraged to seek out an IPN faculty Advisor to assist with
planning their educational program prior to identifying their Thesis Mentor. Students are also encouraged to
obtain assistance and advice from the Program Director and the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) when

Included in the 40 credit hours of graduate coursework required by the Program are the following
requisites for all students:

Core Courses in Neuroscience (NCSI 501 & 503) (6 & 5 credit hours, respectively)

Recitation for NSCI501 & 503 (NSCI 511 & 513) (1 credit hour each)

Medical Neurobiology Course (NCSI 545) (5 credit hours)

Neuroscience Survey Course (NCSI 505) (2 credit hours)

Neuroscience Critical Readings (NCSI 507) (1 credit hour)

Survival Skills & Ethics for Emerging Scientists (NCSI 532) (2 credit hours)

Neurobiology of Disease I & II (NSCI 533 & 534) (1 credit hour each)

                                                                                                          rev 2010
Elective courses can be chosen from the offerings of the departments of Neuroscience, Physiology,
Pharmacology, Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Biology, Biostatistics, Math, Linguistics and Psychology.
Although specific elective courses are not required, it is expected that all students will have familiarity
with all disciplines related to neuroscience such as biochemistry, cell biology, immunology,
anatomy, animal and human behavior, endocrinology, molecular biology, pharmacology, physiology
and statistics. This knowledge may be obtained through a variety of mechanisms, including tutorial
readings, didactic coursework, and laboratory experience. No specific didactic course requirements beyond
the core neuroscience courses are dictated by our curriculum in order to allow students maximum flexibility
in tailoring their training to their individual background, needs and interests. All students are expected to be
capable of reading neuroscience papers in a variety of areas (from molecular/cellular to neurophysiological,
from animal autonomic physiology to human cognitive neuroimaging, etc.) and to be able to grasp the
fundamental aspects of experimental design and interpretation in those readings. In addition, all students
are expected to obtain advanced knowledge in specific areas of neuroscience that relate to their research

The most important aspect of the Ph.D. program is the dissertation research. Students are required initially
to gain experience with laboratory research through at least 3 Laboratory Rotations during their first year.
The first Laboratory Rotation begins the summer prior to starting coursework, the second rotation typically
begins during the fall semester of the first year of classes, and the third rotation is typically during the spring
semester of the first year. At this point most students will have identified a laboratory for thesis research,
but if a student is still undecided, a fourth rotation is possible. Successful completion of rotations is required
to progress in the program. Success is evaluated using rotation mentor evaluations following each rotation.
The SAC will determine if rotations have or have not been successful. During their second year students
will identify a Thesis mentor and begin to acquire specific skills and preliminary data that will support the
formulation of a thesis proposal. With the completion of course work as well as the Oral and Written
Comprehensive Exams (by no later than the end of the second year), students will officially begin full-time
Thesis Research. Students are expected to prepare pre-doctoral fellowship applications (with the
guidance of their thesis advisor) during their second year in order to compete for individual funding
for the thesis research period.


The curriculum of the typical student in the IPN is composed of a mix of didactic coursework, research, and
skills related (non-didactic) learning experiences for which credit is earned. Thus, the 40 credits are
distributed as follows:

Required: Core Neuroscience Courses: 16 credits over two semesters (NSCI 501, 503, 545)
            Includes Medical Neurobiology course in Spring of first year
Electives: Selected from a choice of graduate-level courses.

Didactic elective courses fall into two major categories:
1) Fundamental courses: provide comprehensive coverage of a basic subject considered fundamental to
biomedical research.
2) Specialized courses: provide advanced exposure to a specific area of neuroscience.

Some of the elective courses that our students have taken include:
1) Fundamental Courses:
            Applied Statistical Principles in Pharmacology (2)
            Biochemistry and Cellular Sciences (3)
            Cellular and Molecular Physiology (4)
            Human Physiology (5)
            Molecular Cell Biology (4)
            Microscopic Anatomy (Histology) (4)

                                                                                                     rev 2010
             Modern Methods in Molecular Biology (3)
             Fundamentals of Molecular Biology and Genetics (2)
             Elements of Imaging (2)
             Principles of Computational Neuroscience (3)
             Introduction to Pharmacology (1)
             Introduction to Microbiology (1)
             Introduction to Tumor Biology (1)

2) Specialized Courses:
            Advanced Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience (3)
            Advanced Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience (3)
            Topics in Synaptic Transmission (2)
            Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration (3)
            Stroke and Trauma (3)
            Functional Neuroimaging and Cognition (2)
            Vision: Neurons to Behavior (3)
            Drugs of Abuse (2)
            Music Perception (4)
            Brain and Language (3)
            Advanced Neuropsychology (4)
            Cognitive Psychology (4)
            Neuropsychoimmunology (1)

NON-DIDACTIC (involve procedural learning and direct practical applications of skills):
Total Maximum Credits: 23
Research-related and skills-related (teaching, data analysis, etc.)

      A. Research Related
              Critical Readings in Neuroscience (1 credit)
              Neurobiology of Disease I & II (1 credit each)
              Neuroscience Survey (2 credits – can be taken twice)
              Advanced research readings tutorials (1 - 6 credits)
              Other electives
      B. Skills Related
              Survival Skills and Ethics (2 credits)
              Statistical Methods (3 credits)
              Teaching Tutorial (2 credits)
              Teaching Practicum (2 - 4 credits)
              Other Electives

A student may take as few as 1 elective or as many as 6 electives during the first 2 years, depending on the
student‘s background and training needs. Full-time students must be registered for at least 9 credits each
semester. If a student is in the last semester of pre-thesis coursework and do not need all nine credits, they
may register for fewer than 9 credits of classwork, and sign-up for NSCI 999-03, Non-credit Thesis
Research. All coursework (40 credits or more) must be completed by the end of the second year in the

Sample Curriculums for the first 2 years:

                                                                                                  rev 2010
emphasis on non-didactic courses (Credit Hours in parentheses; required courses are boldfaced):
Summer, Year 1
             Laboratory Rotation #1
Fall, Year 1
(11 credits)
             Seminar, Neurolunch and Journal Club (0)
             Neuroscience Core (6)
             Recitation (1)
             Neuroscience Survey I (2)
             Critical Readings in Neuroscience (1)
             Neurobiology of Disease I (1)
             Laboratory Rotation # 2
Spring, Year 1
(14 credits)
             Seminar, Neurolunch and Journal Club (0)
             Neuroscience Core (5)
             Recitation (1)
             Neurobiology of Disease II (1)
             Medical Neuroscience (5)
             Survival Skills and Ethics for Emerging Scientists (2)
             Laboratory Rotation #3
Summer, Year 2
             Begin thesis research or Laboratory Rotation #4
Fall, Year 2
 (9 credits)
             Seminar, Neurolunch and Journal Club (0)
             Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration (3)
             Elements of Imaging (2)
             Applied Statistical Principles in Pharmacology (2)
             Reading tutorial in metabotropic glutamate receptor research (2)
Spring Year 2
(7 credits)
             Seminar, Neurolunch and Journal Club (0)
             Biostatistics (Experimental Design and Statistical Analysis) (2)
             Topics in Synaptic Transmission (2)
             Neuroscience Teaching Tutorial (2)
             Neuroscience Teaching Practicum (1)
             Non-credit thesis research

Total credit hours => 40

emphasis on didactic coursework:

Summer, Year 1
              Laboratory Rotation #1
Fall, Year 1
(11 credits)
             Seminar, Neurolunch and Journal Club (0)
             Neuroscience Core (6)
             Recitation (1)
             Neuroscience Survey I (2)

                                                                                                       rev 2010
             Critical Readings in Neuroscience (1)
             Neurobiology of Disease I (1)
             Laboratory Rotation # 2
Spring, Year 1
(14 credits)
             Seminar, Neurolunch and Journal Club (0)
             Neuroscience Core (5)
             Recitation (1)
             Neurobiology of Disease II (1)
             Medical Neuroscience (5)
             Survival Skills and Ethics for Emerging Scientists (2)
             Laboratory Rotation #3

Fall, Year 2
(9 credits)
               Seminar, Neurolunch and Journal Club (0)
               Elements of Imaging (2)
               Brain and Language (3)
               Advanced Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience (3)
               Neuroscience Teaching Practicum (1)

Spring Year 2
(9 credits)
             Seminar, Neurolunch and Journal Club (0)
             Vision: Neurons to Behavior (3)
             Brain and Language (3)
             Functional Neuroimaging and Cognition (3)

Total credit hours => 40

Summer, Year 2 through Year 5

After completion of course work, students are required to participate in the following activities throughout the
year: Full-time Thesis Research, weekly attendance at one or more journal clubs (e.g., neurobiology,
cognitive neuroscience, neural injury and plasticity), and weekly Neuroscience Seminars. The doctoral
dissertation typically should be written and defended during Years 5 and 6.


NSCI-501, 503, Core Courses in Neuroscience (11 credits total)- A one-year series of courses designed
to introduce basic concepts in neuroscience and the experimental strategies that have been used to
achieve our current awareness of the structure and function of the nervous system. Successful completion
of the Core Course (average of B or better) is required to be allowed to take the written comprehensive
exam at the end of the first year. The Core Course is comprised of 7 independent modules:

       module 1: Cell Biology and Neuropharmacology - The mechanisms of regulation of
       neurotransmitter utilization and second messenger responses. Presynaptic mechanisms of
       transmitter synthesis, release and degradation, as well as postsynaptic receptor-mediated
       responses are considered in the context of specific neurotransmitters and second messenger
       systems and their response to acute and chronic exposure to drugs.

       module 2: Neurophysiology- The biophysical and physiological aspects of neuronal function.
       Postsynaptic potentials, structure and function of ion channels, action potentials, transmitter release,
       saltatory conduction, gap junctions, long-term potentiation, and neurophysiological measurement

                                                                                                      rev 2010
       techniques are considered as a basis for understanding the dynamic function of neural networks and
       how they are regulated.

       module 3: Developmental Neurobiology - Principles of development of nervous systems and
       organization of embryonic development. The birth of neurons and glia, factors that influence the
       function of growth cones, establishment of connections, target specificity, neuronal cell death, etc.
       Critical periods and the role of neurotrophic factors in development will also be discussed.

       module 4: The Vertebrate Nervous System: Regulatory Systems - Autonomic and endocrine
       systems important for maintenance of sleep and waking and homeostasis, and their regulation by
       limbic system networks. Endocrine and hypothalamic/brainstem control of salt/water balance,
       thermoregulation, appetite, reproductive behavior, cardiorespiratory function, immune function and
       circadian/ultradian rhythms will be discussed and related to regulation of mood and emotion by
       limbic system circuits.

       module 5: The Vertebrate Nervous System: Organization and Function of Sensory Systems-
       An overview of the functional anatomy of the normal adult vertebrate nervous system with special
       emphasis on the major structures and pathways that subserve sensory and perceptual functions are
       considered from the peripheral receptors/effectors through the level of behavioral response.

       module 6: The Vertebrate Nervous System: Organization and Function of Motor Systems- An
       overview of the functional anatomy of the normal adult vertebrate nervous system with special
       emphasis on the major structures and pathways that subserve motor function are considered from
       the level of the cortical, subcortical and cerebellar circuits including the spinal cord, motor neurons,
       and the neuromuscular junction.

       module 7: The Vertebrate Nervous System: Cognitive Function and Dysfunction
       Regional functions of the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes are considered in terms of the
       anatomical, cellular and molecular basis for normal cognitive function as well as known clinical
       dysfunctions, such as epilepsy, amnesia, Alzheimer‘s Disease, aphasias and alexias, schizophrenia,
       apraxias and agnosias. Current and potential future research on these disorders is discussed from
       the viewpoint of strategies and methods for learning more about normal and diseased nervous
       systems, including neurophysiology, neuropsychology and functional imaging in experimental
       animals and humans. Behavioral regulation including the concepts of classical and operant
       conditioning, reinforcement and punishment, conditioned emotional responses, and self-stimulation
       will also be considered in the context of learned responses, adaptation, and addictive behavior.

NSCI-511 & 513 Recitation for Core Courses (1 credit each) All students registered for NSCI501 or 503
are required to take this course which ties together the disparate information in the various modules of the
core course.

NSCI-545 Medical Neuroscience (5 credits, pass/fail) IPN students will participate in the Medical
Neuroscience course in the spring of their first year, after module 7 has concluded. Students will be required
to take the lecture and lab exams, with a passing grade for the course defined as two standard deviations
below the mean of the medical students. While low, this will still require students to answer about 70% of
the exam questions correctly. If students do not pass the exam they can petition the SAC and, based on
their performance in the core and in rotations, may be allowed to re-take the course or take an alternate

NSCI-505, 506 Neuroscience Survey I and II (2 credits, Graded) (only 1 is required) The course
provides a survey of current neuroscience research underway at Georgetown University. Each semester the
course is offered, 16 faculty members present their ongoing research with emphasis on experimental design
strategies and choices. Different faculty members are chosen to present each semester. Students receive
a reading list for each lecture and the formal presentation by the faculty member is followed by an

                                                                                                        rev 2010
interactive discussion session. Students prepare a mini-grant proposal on a research topic chosen in
consultation with the course director and a faculty member with expertise on the topic.

NSCI-507 Critical Reading in Neuroscience (1 credit, pass/fail) With facilitation by a faculty member,
students read and critically evaluate current research literature. The papers are read in conjunction with the
individual modules in the Core Neuroscience course. These papers of original research are critically
analyzed with the participation of all students in a case-based learning style where the research article is
treated as a ―case.‖ Analysis is conducted by identifying the ―given‖ facts from previous research, the
authors‘ hypotheses, and critical examination of the methods (experimental design) and results.

NSCI-533 & 534 Neurobiology of Disease I & II (1 credit each, pass/fail) In this course, a clinical
understanding of neurological and psychiatric disorders will inform, enrich, and contextualize basic
neuroscience education. Interactive disease-oriented problem-solving will be an organizing and
assessment principle in the classroom, introducing both clinical case presentations and clinical research
literature in the context of a series of basic science topics (concurrently taught in the basic neuroscience
core course). Selected disease-oriented themes (e.g., Autism, Stroke, Epilepsy, Alzheimer‘s Disease and
Dementias, Schizophrenia, Spinal Cord Injury, Addiction, Parkinson‘s Disease) will cut across and integrate
the various levels of analysis: from genes to systems, channels to cognition, and circuits to emotions.
Discussion will focus on current clinical etiological, diagnostic and therapeutic features, as well as historical
perspectives and research approaches for improving diagnosis and therapy. Faculty teaching the course
will be from the Georgetown Hospital, the VA Medical Center (Center For Schizophrenia and Neuroscience
Research), National Rehabilitation Hospital, and Children‘s National Medical Center. Students will gain an
appreciation for the clinical context for their own research, ideas for novel research questions, and a facility
for establishing clinical collaborations.

Journal Club (Required, no credit) Papers selected from the current literature are presented and
analyzed by the students, with each student responsible for presenting at least one paper per semester.
The class is held on the same day as the seminar series. When outside seminar speakers present, the
journal club analyzes a paper from the speaker‘s laboratory and the speaker participates in the discussion,
providing an opportunity for students to interact with the visiting speaker. This has proved to be highly
productive and educational for both students and speakers alike.

Neuroscience Seminar (Required, no credit) Invited speakers from outside Georgetown University, as
well as faculty and students in the Neuroscience program, present formal seminars on their research.
Students in thesis research continue to attend all seminars as well as present seminars.

Neurolunch (Required, no credit): Graduate students have the opportunity to learn the elements of
preparing and presenting such a seminar. The students are expected to give one seminar each year during
the fall semester, based initially on research performed during the laboratory rotations and, in later years, on
their thesis research.

Statistics (Required): Graduate students are expected to have a working knowledge of applied statistics.
Thus, each student must successfully complete a one-semester course in statistics, to be approved by the
program chair (many different courses are offered which will fulfill this requirement). This requirement may
also be fulfilled by previously taken coursework upon approval from the program chair.

                                  Transfer Credit and Advanced Standing

Students who have completed graduate coursework prior to entering the IPN can petition for inclusion of
this coursework towards the 40 credits required. A maximum of 10 credits can be transferred and a
maximum of 30 credits of advanced standing can be credited for a prior M.S. or M.D. degree. M.D./Ph.D.
students in the Georgetown M.D./Ph.D. program are credited with 30 credits. A student with a MS or MD
degree can request advanced standing which requires all of the prethesis requirements be completed within

                                                                                                         rev 2010
the first year. This includes completion of required courses, lab rotations and comprehensive exams
(written and oral).

                                                 Lab Rotations

The purpose of Research Rotations in the IPN is to learn about the Neuroscience problems being
addressed and the strategies and methods employed in different laboratories. The rotations expand the
student‘s familiarity with areas and techniques in research and may assist the student in choosing a
laboratory and mentor for dissertation research. With the assistance of their faculty Advisor, the students
choose laboratories through which they will rotate. Students are required to perform 3 rotations. These
should expose the student to various experimental approaches and be in at least two different
departments/research areas. In each case, the rotation and its specific objectives must be approved by the
Student Advisory Committee prior to its initiation. At the completion of the rotation, the student submits a
brief summary of accomplishments, countersigned by the faculty member who supervised the rotation, to
the SAC. This summary, along with an evaluation of the student‘s performance is retained in the student‘s
file. Students will make a presentation about each rotation at neurolunch. The importance of laboratory
rotations to the successful ascendancy to candidacy is emphasized. A student must successfully
complete rotations to be eligible to take the comprehensive examination. The SAC will determine the
success or lack thereof based on reports from the rotation mentors.

The rotations take place during 1) Summer prior to the first year of coursework; 2) Fall and 3) Spring of
the first year. By the summer preceding second year coursework, the student may begin research in their
chosen thesis laboratory. If needed, a fourth rotation may be completed during this summer, with a thesis
laboratory to be identified before starting second year coursework (Fall semester).

                                           Teaching Opportunities

Teaching is not a requirement for completion of the Ph.D. in the IPN. However, several opportunities exist
for gaining teaching experience. For example, each summer, IPN students organize and teach a basic
neuroscience course for the incoming first year IPN students. Each IPN student may teach 1-2 lectures on
any neuroscience topic. See the course coordinator for details.

Any IPN student who has taken the core course and the medical neurobiology course is eligible to serve as
a teaching assistant for the IPN core course and for the neuroanatomy portion of the medical neurobiology
course. Students who still earn credits for coursework (pre-thesis students) will receive 1-2 credits (for
Teaching Practicum) for their participation as a TA.

IPN students have, over the past few years, coordinated a course for undergraduates, ‖Disorders and
Diseases of the Brain‖. IPN students who participate in teaching this team-taught course will be responsible
for giving 1-2 lectures on a topic related to the course. See the course coordinators for details.

                                 Comprehensive Examinations Guidelines

The purpose of this examination is to evaluate students on their basic knowledge of neuroscience and their
analytic and synthetic abilities in critically reading scientific literature, formulating testable hypotheses and
designing experimental strategies. Students failing to maintain a 3.0 average or who have not completed
rotations satisfactorily will not be permitted to take the exam and will be reviewed by the SAC and will be
subject to being dropped from the Program.

The examination will include two components. A written comprehensive exam is taken after the first year of
coursework, and an oral comprehensive exam is taken during the second year. The ascension to
candidacy must occur no later than the beginning of the third year in the program. The examining
committee will assign the student a Pass or Fail grade on each part, to be approved by the Student

                                                                                                     rev 2010
Advisory Committee. In the latter case, the student may apply to the Student Advisory Committee for a
second test. Students must pass both parts of the examination before advancing to doctoral candidacy and
beginning full-time thesis research.

To be eligible to take the written comprehensive exam, the student needs to have attained at least a 3.0
GPA in the first year. Satisfactory completion of three rotations is required to advance to candidacy unless
specific exceptions are made by the SAC. Prior to embarking on Thesis Research, the student‘s entire file
(coursework, comprehensive exam, rotation evaluations, etc.) is evaluated by the Student Advisory
Committee. If all requirements have been met and satisfactory progress has been made, the student will be
approved for candidacy.

                                    IPN Written Comprehensive Exam Rules
                                                (Adopted 2007)

The exam has 14 questions (2 from each module) focused on the 7 modules from the core course
(NSCI501-503). One question of each pair must be answered. The exact scheduling of the exam varies
depending on when the medical neurobiology course is taught, but it will be given and graded before July 1.

Definition of passing the exam

Pass 7 questions = pass
Pass 6 questions = pass - but the one area needs remediation (SAC approves remediation plan, such as
meeting with the module director or re-taking exams questions in this area)

Definition of failing the exam

Pass less than 6 questions = fail

Consequences of failing the exam

Student referred to the SAC which will review total record:

       Criteria for review:
            a. Number of questions passed on the comp exam
            b. Grades in coursework
            c. Rotation reports

       Potential outcomes:
           a. Dismissal from Program
           b. Retake the portion of the exam initially failed
              i. The areas for re-exam questions will be the same as those failed and will be clearly
                     defined prior to the re-exam.
              ii. The re-exam will be taken before the end of August and will be graded prior to the start of
                     classes for the fall semester.

If a student is allowed to retake the failed questions in August:
        Potential outcomes:
             a. Pass all questions on the re-exam = pass
             b. Fail 1 question on the re-exam = pass with remediation (conditions determined by SAC)
             c. Fail 2 or more questions of the re-exam = dismissal from the program.
                     Reconsideration of this dismissal by the SAC would require a written petition by the
                     student to the SAC requesting reinstatement into the program due to severe
                     extenuating circumstances. If reinstatement is permitted, the SAC would determine the
                     exact requirements for this reinstatement.
                                                                                                      rev 2010

Oral Comprehensive Exams
The oral examination is taken during the second year. Oral comps have a great deal of flexibility in when
they can be scheduled but must be successfully completed before ascending to candidacy and full-time
thesis research, no later than the end of the second year in the program.

The Oral Comprehensive Exam committee shall be comprised of four faculty members selected by the
student, usually with advice from the faculty mentor, with at least three from the IPN faculty. This committee
must be approved of the SAC prior to initiating the Oral Exam.

The oral exam requires the preparation of an NRSA-type application that focuses on an area of
neuroscience selected by the student, which will probably be relevant to the student‘s thesis research. The
exam consists of a ‗scientific site visit‘ in which exam committee members can ask about the background,
rationale, experimental design, experimental protocols, interpretation of potential results, alternative
approaches, and statistical analyses relevant to the proposal. No faculty member involved in the preparation
of the proposal can be on the exam committee. If the student prepares a proposal for the exam, it should
follow the guidelines for preparation of an NRSA and should not exceed 7 pages in length. This written
―application‖ must be provided to the Oral Comprehensive Exam committee at least 3 weeks prior to the
oral exam.

The faculty members ask questions related to the proposal, and each member takes about 20 minutes.
They may ask as many questions as they feel are necessary, but the total time rarely exceeds three hours.
One member of the committee is chosen as chair to facilitate the discussion.

                                   Criteria for Evaluation of Oral Component
I. Knowledge (factual)
              Scientific detail and depth
              Scientific breadth
              Technical details
II. Understanding of fundamental concepts and terminology
III. Use of knowledge
              ability to synthesize information
              flexible application of knowledge to problem solving
IV. Logical reasoning and critical thinking
V. Communication skills (clarity, precision, completeness)
VI. Grasp of experimental design
              ability to generate hypotheses and alternative hypotheses
              ability to plan and design experiments; to isolate and identify variables
              understanding of experimental controls and statistical analysis

The chair of the examining committee is in charge of overseeing that questioning relates to the student‘s
topic (i.e. stays on the chosen subject), and that all examiners have sufficient time to question the student
(i.e. one examiner doesn't dominate the questioning).

Potential results of the oral exams:
       Total pass by all examiners
       Pass by some but concern by other examiners
                -student may be asked to learn some aspect(s) of the topic where weaknesses are perceived
                -tutorial or oral exam at later point may be required; form is up to committee
       Concern by all examiners
                -a recommendation may be made by all for a complete reexamination
                                                                                                        rev 2010
               -a recommendation may be made by committee to drop student from program

Student Timeline: See TIMELINE at for details.

Optional/encouraged items are in italics
First (including   Courses
summer before)     Lab rotations
                   Journal Club
                   Written comprehensive exam (April or June)
                   NSF grant application
                   Student Research Day
Second (including Courses (completion of 40 credits)
summer after)      Neurolunch
                   Journal Club
                   Lab rotations (if necessary)
                   Select thesis mentor
                   Oral comprehensive exam
                   NRSA application
                   Teaching – Medical Neurobiology, summer IPN course, or
                   Disorders and
                                       Diseases course
                   Student Research Day
Third              Neurolunch
                   Select thesis committee and meet around time of Neurolunch (to be
                   approved by SAC)
                   Prepare thesis proposal (to be formally accepted by thesis
                   Teaching – various options
                   Student Research Day
Fourth and         Neurolunch
beyond             Seminars
                   Thesis committee meetings after each Neurolunch (or more often)
                   Teaching – various options
                   Student Research Day
                   Write and defend thesis

                                               Thesis Research

During the third, fourth and fifth years of the program, the student devotes the bulk of his/her time to original
research and to preparation of the doctoral thesis. During these years, students are expected to attend and
participate in seminars sponsored by the IPN, to give a seminar annually (Neurolunch Seminar Series), and
to participate in a relevant journal club. While carrying out thesis research, the student may audit advanced
courses in any subject of particular relevance to his/her thesis research or long-term career interests.

a. Identification of the Mentor and Research Area. Some students may enter the Program with a specific
mentor and/or thesis area in mind. Others will decide based on experiences during their initial years in the
Program. In either case, it is expected that at the beginning of Year 2 and no later than the end of Year 2,
the student and a mentor will have agreed on the student doing thesis research in that lab. Research
                                                                                                       rev 2010
toward the thesis may then be initiated, as early as the Summer semester of Year 2. Students are
encouraged to work with their prospective thesis mentor during their second year in the program to write an
NIH NRSA individual predoctoral fellowship proposal for submission in the Summer, Fall or Spring of that
year (many of our students have been successful in obtaining these awards). In the third year and
thereafter, the student will be engaged in full-time laboratory research in the mentor‘s laboratory. Note that
students will be supported by the mentor during the years involving thesis research if a grant is not

b. Thesis Advisory Committee, formed at this time, includes at least three Georgetown faculty members with
expertise in areas relevant to the student‘s research, and an established scientist from another institution. At
least two members of the Committee (other than the mentor) must be from the IPN Training Faculty. The
thesis mentor is not part of the Thesis Advisory Committee, but attends the meetings and helps the student.
The student‘s committee members must be approved by the Student Advisory Committee. The student
should send an email to the Chair of the SAC to seek approval of the committee. After approval of the
proposed members by the SAC, the members of the thesis committee designate a Chair of the committee.
The role of the chair is to help the student to facilitate the meeting. The Thesis Advisory Committee reviews
the Proposal and meets with the student to discuss it.

Thereafter, the student meets with his/her Advisory Committee once to twice a year to discuss and evaluate
research progress and modify the initial proposal if required. In general, meetings are held just after the
student's talk in Neurolunch. These meetings are an opportunity to present data and get feedback from the
committee with regard to the direction and progress of the project. The student is encouraged to prepare an
agenda and a short handout. The only role of the committee chair is to aid the student in efficiently running
the meeting.

The student and the mentor are primarily responsible for scheduling meetings. The Program will assist in
tracking the frequency and progress of these meetings.

c. Thesis Proposal. A thesis proposal is prepared during the Spring semester of Year 3. The Proposal
defines an original and significant research problem, assesses the research literature critically, suggests
feasible experimental approaches to the problem and presents any available preliminary data in support of
the approach. The thesis proposal should be presented to the thesis advisory committee at its first meeting
in the Spring of year 3. The Proposal, with any recommended modification, should be formally accepted by
the Thesis Advisory Committee around the time of the student‘s Neurolunch presentation during the third
year, and added to the student‘s file. In addition, the student needs to complete and submit the thesis
proposal form required by the Graduate School. A form for the thesis proposal can be found at This form also needs to be turned into the
Graduate School (ICC 302).

d. Labs outside of GUMC. Occasionally, an IPN student conducts a portion of her/his thesis research in labs
outside of GUMC (e.g., the NIH or Children‘s Hospital). In these instances, the students must have a co-
mentor at GUMC who will ensure that she/he is receiving proper graduate training. For these students, the
IPN has the same expectations for the yearly Neurolunch presentation, regular thesis committee meetings,
and regular attendance of a journal club. In all cases, a student must get approval from the SAC or the
Executive Committee before becoming part of a lab off campus.

e. Student first author manuscript. Each Ph.D. candidate is required to submit at least one first author,
original research manuscript for publication before scheduling the thesis defense. The quality of the
publication must be approved by the thesis committee. Some mentors have additional expectations
regarding manuscripts; these mentors should discuss expectations with the student prior to joining a lab.

f. Dissertation and Defense. Each Ph.D. candidate is required to complete an in-depth, original,
independent, research project. The results are assembled into a Dissertation; the Dissertation research is
also presented by the student at a public seminar, followed by an oral examination, i.e., the dissertation

                                                                                                     rev 2010
defense. The Thesis Committee must formally approve the written dissertation, certifying that it represents a
significant original contribution to the scientific knowledge base and that the candidate has succeeded in the
oral defense.

                                      Timetable for Thesis Research
Mentor selected, research begun                                            By September of 2nd year
Thesis committee selected (approved by SAC)
       with first committee meeting after Neurolunch presentation          Apr/May of 3rd year
Thesis committee meeting
       (in conjunction with student‘s Neurolunch presentation)             Yearly
Thesis defense                                                             4-6 years after starting program

Additionally, the Graduate School mandates that students will complete the doctorate within 6 years or will
need to petition each semester thereafter to continue their studies.

The most important forms, pertaining to thesis proposal and preparation, and defense are:
      IPN Thesis Committee Proposal Form
      IPN Thesis Proposal
      Graduate School Thesis or Dissertation Proposal Form
      IPN Thesis Committee Meeting Report
      Scheduling a Thesis Defense with (1) the Graduate School and with (2) the IPN
      Thesis Reviewers Report - which needs to be submitted at least one week prior to the defense.

       Thesis Ballot
       Thesis Cover Sheet
       Submit Thesis
       Turn in the ETD form
       Complete the SED form

       Links to all forms are on the TIMELINE at

                                          Student Research Days

Each February, the Medical Center sponsors a poster competition among the science students (both
graduate and undergraduate) and post-docs. Judges from IPN and the Medical Center critique each
student‘s poster presentation (scientific content, style, neatness, etc.). Judges recruited from outside the
Georgetown University community judge the posters for scientific merit and presentation. The top three
candidates are selected from three categories: student, post-doctoral and clinical. These winners go on to
present their work as a seminar, and cash prizes are awarded. Student Research Days are scheduled at a
time of year that coincides with the Medical Center‘s recruitment. Therefore, this event gives the IPN a
chance to showcase our interesting, top-quality research to potential students. All pre-thesis and thesis
students are encouraged to participate.

                                               Travel Grants

The Medical Center Graduate Student Organization (MCGSO) awards funding to qualified students who
attend scientific conferences. Awards help defray out-of-pocket costs related to the conference: room, board
and related travel expenses (airfare, airport shuttle, airport parking, cab fare, etc). Funds are limited;

                                                                                                       rev 2010
therefore, grants are competitive. Students may apply AFTER the costs have incurred and must submit
original receipts. Applications are available through any MCGSO representative.

                                           Tuition/Stipend Support

Georgetown University and the Georgetown University Medical Center provides tuition and stipend support
for its IPN students per year. Tuition and stipend for full-time students is fully paid by the Medical Center
during the first two years of the program and by the thesis laboratory thereafter. This latter requires the
student to identify a laboratory that can provide funding for them, and to work with the thesis advisor to
designate supporting funds at the beginning of each fiscal year (requests for this information are sent out in
May/June of each year). Students have been supported by federal and private funds awarded directly to
the students, by federal and private funds awarded to individual labs, and by fellowships for teaching or
research awarded by the Georgetown University Graduate School.

Georgetown University offers eligible graduate students funding under several student loan and
employment aid programs such as the Federal Stafford Loan, Federal Perkins Loan, and the Federal Work-
Study program. Eligibility for the federal loan and work programs is based upon financial need, however,
most private loans and the Employment Referral Service are not based on financial need. Due to limited
funding, Federal Perkins and Federal Work-Study funding is offered to applicants who demonstrate
exceptional financial need, and awards are generally made on a ―first-come, first-served‖ basis.

                                            Practical Information

                                            GU Student Insurance

Since health care costs are continuing to increase rapidly, a student who is not covered by adequate health
insurance faces enormous financial burdens if he or she suffers a serious accident or illness. Each student
is strongly advised to investigate his or her insurance status before registration. It is important to note that
changes in federal law lowered the age to which a full-time student may be retained on a parent‘s policy
from 26 to 21 years of age and, in some cases, to 18 years old. For those students who do not have
adequate insurance coverage, Georgetown University offers an excellent medical insurance policy tailored
to their medical and financial needs. The premium for this insurance plan is automatically added to the
tuition bill of every student who takes nine or more credit hours so that students may pay for it with loans or
scholarships. The coverage may be waived upon written proof of adequate medical insurance from another

                                        Student Primary Care Clinic

Primary medical care is available at the Student Primary Care Clinic (SPCC), an outpatient clinic located on
the ground floor, Bles Building of the Medical Center (it‘s been moved to another building). Medical services
at the clinic are managed by the Medical Center‘s Faculty Practice Group. During the academic year, the
clinic is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday; 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday; 9:30 a.m. to 4:30
p.m. on Wednesday; 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Thursday; 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday; and 9:00 a.m. to
12 noon on Saturday. Summer hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. After hours,
emergency care is available at the Emergency Room of the Medical Center.

                                            Counseling Services

Located on the first floor of Darnall Hall, the Counseling Center houses Counseling and Psychiatric
Services, Learning Services, and Disability Support Services. The collective mission of the Counseling
center is to attend to the health and safety of the students of the University in the areas of mental,
emotional, and special learning problems and to provide needed support for disabled students. The goal is

                                                                                                       rev 2010
to promote the overall educational mission of the University by maximizing students‘ readiness to learn and
ensuring safe access to university facilities.


Throughout the year, listings and other information about off-campus housing for graduate students can be
found on the World Wide Web at Still another way to look
for off-campus housing is through the classifieds of the local newspapers, such as the Washington Post,
Washington Times, or the CityPaper.


The libraries of Georgetown University are essential resources for graduate education and research.
Together with the large number and wide variety of library collections in the Washington area, they provide
a remarkably rich research environment.

The libraries at Georgetown include:

    Joseph Mark Lauinger Memorial Library
The principal library on the Main Campus, housing more than 2 million volumes in the social sciences,
humanities, and business. Lauinger provides seating facilities for 1,100 users and offers study rooms and
closed carrels to faculty members and graduate students. There are comfortable student discussion rooms
and lounges, including a separate graduate student study lounge.

   Dahlgren Medical Library
Contains resources to support research and education in Medicine and the Biomedical Sciences. It currently
houses 172,000 volumes, maintains more than 1800 journal subscriptions, and accommodates 36,000
audiovisual and computer programs.

   Blommer Science Library
(Reiss Science Building, Room 302)—Provides information resources and services in the biological and
physical sciences, mathematics, and computer science. The science collection includes 130,000 books and
bound periodicals and more than 700 current journal subscriptions.

    National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature
(Healy Hall, Room 102) — A specialized collection of materials concerned with contemporary bioethics
issues such as abortion, death and dying, and organ transplantation.

                                            Recreational Center

The Yates Field House is a multifaceted student recreation center that houses intramural, instructional, and
recreational programs. The building contains a 25-yard swimming pool, and courts for tennis, racquetball,
squash, basketball, and volleyball. There are treadmills, stair-climbers, cross-trainers, and a weight training
area. Aerobics and yoga classes are offered in two studios. There are saunas for men and women and a
complete Pro Shop. All graduate students who are enrolled in at least nine credits of course work during a
semester are billed a mandated Yates fee which is covered by the IPN for the first two years. These
students are admitted to the Field House simply by presenting their student I.D. cards at the entry desk. All
other graduate students (those on thesis research, taking fewer than nine credits, or on fellowship, for
example) can use Yates by paying the fee in the main office of the Field House. Yates also offers family
memberships to student.

A number of IPN students, fellows and faculty members play on a city-wide softball team, the Myoclonic
Jerks. All players and fans are welcome.

                                                                                                 rev 2010

The guidelines in this document are meant to be helpful. Although every attempt was made to
ensure accuracy, some material may be out of date or potentially wrong. Thus, this document is not
meant to represent a binding contract between faculty and students.

                                      Supplementary Information

                                             Faculty of IPN

Program Director: G. William Rebeck, Ph.D., Harvard University (Professor, Neuroscience).

Interdepartmental Faculty: Gerard Ahern,Ph.D.(Assistant Professor, Pharmacology); Barbara M. Bayer,
Ph.D., The Ohio State University (Professor, Pharmacology); Barbara Bregman, Ph.D., Medical College of
Pennsylvania (Chair, Neuroscience); Elena Casey, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor,Biology); Kenneth L.
Dretchen, Ph.D., University of Iowa (Professor, Pharmacology, and Dean of Research and Graduate
Education); Guinevere Eden, Ph.D., Oxford University (Associate Professor, Pediatrics); Rhonda B.
Friedman, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Professor, Neurology); Karen Gale, Ph.D.,
University of Washington-Seattle (Professor, Pharmacology); Richard A. Gillis, Ph.D., McGill University
(Professor, Pharmacology); Darlene V. Howard, Ph.D., Brown University (Professor, Psychology and
Neuroscience); Molly Huntsman, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, Pharmacology); Jagmeet Kanwal, Ph.D.,
Louisiana State University (Assistant Professor, Neuroscience); Kenneth J. Kellar, Ph.D., The Ohio State
University (Professor, Pharmacology); Alexei Kondratyev, Ph.D., USSR Academy of Sciences (Associate
Professor, Pharmacology); Lawrence F. Kromer, Ph.D., University of Chicago (Associate Professor,
Neuroscience); David Lightfoot, Ph.D. (Dean, Graduate School); Michael Lumpkin, Ph.D., Texas
Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas (Professor & Chair, Physiology & Biophysics); Linda MacArthur,
Ph.D., Medical College of Virginia University (Assistant Professor, Neuroscience); Ludise Malkova, Ph.D.,
Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (Assistant Professor, Pharmacology); Italo Mocchetti, Ph.D.,Milan
University (Professor, Neuroscience); Gholam Motamedi, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, Neurology); Joseph
Neale, Ph.D., Georgetown University (Professor, Biology); Daniel Pak, Ph.D., University of California
Berkeley, (Assistant Professor, Pharmacology); Josef P. Rauschecker, Ph.D., Munich Technical; D.Sc.,
Tubingen-Germany (Professor, Physiology & Biophysics); G. William Rebeck, Ph.D., Harvard University,
(Assistant Professor, Neuroscience); Kathryn Sandberg, Ph.D., University of Maryland (Associate
Professor, Medicine); Barbara L. Schwartz, Ph.D., University of Toronto (Associate Professor, Psychiatry,
V.A.M.C.); Thomas Sherman, Ph.D., Texas Health Science Center at Dallas (Associate Professor,
Physiology and Biophysics); Carlos Tornatore, M.D., Georgetown University (Assistant Professor,
Neurology); Michael Ullman, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Professor, Neuroscience);
Chandan J. Vaidya, Ph.D., Syracuse University (Associate Professor, Psychology); Joseph Verbalis, M.D.,
University of Pittsburgh (Professor, Medicine/Endocrinology); Stefano Vicini, Ph.D., University of Torino,
Italy (Associate Professor, Physiology and Biophysics); Anton Wellstein, M.D., University of Mainz,
Germany, Ph.D., University of Frankfurt, Germany (Professor, Oncology); Barry Wolfe, Ph.D., University of
California, Santa Barbara (Professor, Pharmacology); Jean R. Wrathall, Ph.D., University of Utah
(Professor, Neuroscience); Jarda T. Wroblewski, Ph.D., Polish Academy of Sciences (Associate Professor,
Pharmacology); Jian-Young Wu, Ph.D., Peking University, Beijing, China (Associate Professor, Neurology);
Robert P. Yasuda, Ph.D., Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (Assistant Professor,
Pharmacology); Baoji Xu, Ph.D., (Assistant Professor, Pharmacology); Zofia Zukowska-Grojec, M.D., Ph.D.,
Academy of Medicine, Warsaw, Poland (Professor, Physiology and Biophysics).

                    Committees in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience

To see the current make-up of each committee, go to

                                                                                          rev 2010
and click on each committee

Executive Committee
Sets policy for the IPN

G. William Rebeck, Ph.D., Chair (Director, ad hoc)    
Karen Gale, Ph.D. (chair, Admissions, ad hoc)         
Gerard Ahern, Ph.D.                                   
Maria Donoghue, Ph.D.                                 
Darlene Howard, Ph.D.                                 
Larry Kromer, Ph.D. (chair, Student Advidory, ad hoc) 
Kathy Maguire-Zeiss, Ph.D.                            
Andrei Medvedev, M.D.                                 
Max Riesenhuber, Ph.D. (chair, Curriculum, ad hoc)    
R. Scott Turner, M.D. Ph.D.                           
Barry Wolfe, Ph.D.                                    
Patrick Forcelli                                      
Tanya Gerner                                          
Jeremy Purcell                                        

Admissions Committee
Regulates admissions to the IPN

Karen Gale, Ph.D., Chair                              

Curriculum Committee
Sets and approves courses for the IPN

Max Riesenhuber Ph.D., Chair                          

Student Advisory Committee
Deals with student issues for the current students in the IPN

Larry Kromer, Ph.D., Chair                            


To top