Advanced Topics in Neuroscience

Stimulus-Secretion Coupling: An Exo(cyto)tic Point Of View

This course deals with one of the “hottest” topics in not only neuroscience, but also in cell biology: stimulus secretion coupling, i.e., the transduction of signals from the environment into exocytotic responses. The course will encompass this process in a number of organisms: viruses, yeast, sponges, flies, worms, mice and even humans. Examples include sperm fertilization of eggs, asexual budding, DNA/RNA transfection, neuronal development, second-messenger-mediated aggregation in slime molds, immunological defense, hormonal release by endocrine cells and synaptic transmission in the brain. This field utilizes a broad synthesis of cutting-edge techniques including molecular biology, biophysics, imaging and electrophysiology. Students will be expected to read and present original papers in order to learn to evaluate their scientific contributions to an understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying stimulus-secretion coupling. 
Catalog number: BBS746
Course Coordinator: Jose Lemos
Semester Offered: Spring, Odd Years
Last Taught: Has not been taught within past 2 years

Cell Physiology of Excitable Membranes

This course covers the fundamental principles of cell physiology with an emphasis on ion channels, synaptic transmission and contractile mechanisms. It is the first section of the first-year Medical School Human Physiology course and it lays the foundation for understanding both cell and organ function. However, unlike the way basic science courses are taught in medical schools, this course will deal with the principles and concepts underlying cell function rather than the absorption or rote memorization of detailed factual information. The material will be introduced through a series of lectures interspersed with a number of problem-set-based conference sections, the purpose of which is to exercise and acquire an understanding of the principles. NOTE: Intensive course. This course is a portion of the Medical School curriculum. It meets for 20 classes from January to February (based on the Medical School academic calendar), with classes on most days Monday through Friday, with each class lasting from one to three hours per day. 
Catalog number: BBS747
Course Coordinator: Jose Lemos
Semester Offered: Fall
Last Taught: Has not been taught within past 2 years

Introduction to Neuroscience

This course gives an overview of the fundamental principles of molecular, cellular, developmental and integrated neuroscience, including state-of-the-art experimental approaches. Required for all students in the program. 
Catalog number: BBS760
Course Coordinator: David Weaver
Semester Offered: Spring
Last Taught: Spring 2014

Bases of Brain Disease

This advanced topics course will be an in-depth study of specific areas of the neurochemical, anatomical, cell biological and genetic basis of nervous system disease. It will teach students skills in critically reading, literature and presentation of research material. The course topics are divided into sections covering disorders of neuronal migration and development, neurodegenerative diseases, and behavioral disorders. These topics cover the cell and molecular biological processes of brain function in health and disease.
Catalog number: BBS782
Course Coordinator: Zuoshang Xu
Semester Offered: Fall
Last Taught: Fall 2012

Genetic Basis of Behavior

The genetics of behavior represent a focal point in contemporary neuroscience research. Genetic screens have been conducted to identify mutants affecting behavior in model systems, and this has converged with advances in understanding the neurobiological basis of behavior. This course will synthesize state-of-the-art overviews of the genetic basis of behavior in model organisms (worms, flies and mice), with specific reference to the areas of learning and memory, circadian rhythms, and social behaviors. Lectures will include descriptions of systems for identifying mutations, genes that have been identified, and how identification of these genes contributes to understanding the underlying neural mechanisms of behavior. The course format includes faculty lectures, student presentations and discussion of assigned readings. 
Catalog number: BBS783
Course Coordinator: Mark Alkema
Semester Offered: Fall, Even Years
Last Taught: Fall 2010

Molecular and Cellular Basis of Neural Development

The nervous system is perhaps the most complex tissue in the human body. The formation and maintenance of this amazing structure entails sophisticated mechanisms that drive the specification of appropriate cell fates in and along the spatial and temporal axes, and the formation and fine-tuning of highly specific cell-cell contacts that are crucial for the organism to properly comprehend and manipulate its environment. In this course, students will present and discuss seminal papers that have unveiled important molecular and cellular aspects of nervous system development. Topics covered will include cell fate specification of neurons and glia, neuronal and glial differentiation, axon guidance, synaptogenesis and the fine tuning of the neural circuits through apoptosis and neurite pruning. Over the course of these studies, the students will gain an understanding of the fundamental mechanism that are used to build nervous systems and the insights provided by model organisms. 
Catalog number: BBS784
Course Coordinator: Mark Freeman 
Semester Offered: Fall, Odd Years
Last Taught: Fall 2013

Molecular Basis of Disease

The goal of this course is to introduce GSBS graduate students to the molecular understanding of disease. The course will consist of five-week blocks investigating neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The students will then finish the course by developing a written research proposal into an important unanswered question. 
Catalog number: BBS786
Course Coordinator: Lawrence Hayward 
Semester Offered: Spring
Last Taught: Spring 2014

Current Topics in Neuroscience: G protein-coupled receptors

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest family of receptors on the cell membrane. They mediate >80% transmembrane signaling events, and are the major targets for pharmaceutical drug design. In the nervous system, GPCRs modulate neuronal excitability and synaptic transmission, and trigger signal transductions of sensory stimuli such as light and odors. In weekly meetings, this tutorial will expose the students to both classic and newly emerged works that have great impact on the understanding of GPCR signaling. The students may choose their favorite papers to read. The selected works can be about the structure of receptor; the specificity of G protein binding and downstream signaling; the G protein-independent signaling pathways; the spatial compartmentalization of signaling cascades; the desensitization, endocytosis and intracellular trafficking of the receptor; the roles of GPCR in neuronal disorders; the identification of orphan GPCRs; and other related topics. 
Catalog number: BBS805
Course Coordinator: Hong-Sheng Li
Semester Offered: Spring
Last Taught: Has not been taught within past 2 years

Seminars, Journal Clubs and Tutorials

Neuroscience Journal Club

The Journal Club is designed to give students an opportunity to present and discuss exciting new papers in neuroscience in an informal setting and is organized by the participating students together with the faculty advisor. Discussions may be supplemented by informal lectures from neuroscience faculty in their area of expertise. The Journal Club meets approximately every week for one hour and is mandatory for second-year Program in Neuroscience students.
Catalog number: BBS808
Course Coordinator: Paul Dobner
Semester Offered: Fall Spring
Last Taught: Fall 2013

Current Topics in Neuroscience: Visualizing the Brain at Work

Neuroimaging, especially functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), is an area of growing interest among the neuroscience research community and an area of active research here at Umass Medical School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Fruitful neuroimaging research is predicted on fluency with the fundamentals of imaging technology as well as fluency with the neuroscience topics related to the questions being addressed. The Center for Comparatiave Neuroimaging (CCNI) holds this weekly seminar to facilitate this synthesis of information by examining current fMRI and related neuroimaging research. Students wishing to build a more detailed understanding of the challenges and strategies of current neuroimaging research may attend this seminar for credit. Students receiving credit will be required to present a topic of their choosing at a scheduled weekly meeting, and will have the support of the course mentors and CCNI faculty in the preparation of their talk.
Catalog number: BBS815
Course Coordinator: Constance Moore 
Semester Offered: Spring
Last Taught: Fall 2013

Tutorial in Neuroscience

Tutorials are arranged by students with individual faculty in the Neuroscience program and are designed to be flexible. They are usually one-on-one or small group meetings and in the format of discussions, but other configurations are possible. Meetings are usually once a week for a full semester, but more frequent or longer meetings for part of a semester are also possible. Subject matter is anything in the field of neuroscience, but should not be what the student is required to do as their rotation or thesis research, e.g., it should not be attending the lab meeting that all lab members attend, but may be a session to discuss “classic” papers even if related to the area of research. Other possibilities include discussion of a hot paper from last week’s top journals; Nobel laureates; grant writing and the NIH peer review system; how to use specific methods; and directed readings. Tutorials can have multiple faculty members. To allow flexibility, a generic tutorial is listed with David R. Weaver, PhD, as the faculty member, as Dr. Weaver approves the proposed tutorial activity. Students can enroll for multiple occurrences of Tutorial in Neuroscience. 
Catalog number: BBS848
Course Coordinator: David Weaver 
Semester Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
Last Taught: Has not been taught within past 2 years

Tutorial in Neuroscience – Drug Addiction

The study of addiction is very appealing to neuroscientists since, aside from its obvious societal and medical impact, it allows one to cover the breadth of the discipline from channel and membrane biophysics to psychology. In this course, an orientation lecture is presented by the instructor, after which students will present and discuss relevant literature. 
Catalog number: BBS849
Course Coordinator: Andrew Tapper 
Semester Offered: Spring
Last Taught: Spring 2014