Course of Study

Overview

To maintain full-time status, all students MUST register for a minimum of

Also, students must generate and continually update an IDP (individual development plan) using myidp.  The Thesis Committee will approve all IDPs at the biannual meetings.

The Office of Graduate Studies has implemented an on-line information system for graduate students. Seguidor, when fully implemented, will be the repository to document student progress throughout his/her academic career. All students must use the system. Detailed instructions are available for students and faculty on the Graduate Studies Seguidor web site.

Course requirements for graduation:

Courses by year:

Year 1

The Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (IGPBS) has replaced the Biomedical Research Training Program at UNMC starting for Fall 2016 students and onward. Classes, restrictions, and requirements of IGPBS are similar to BRTP but not exactly the same.

IGPBS Neuroscience students take courses within the UNMC College of Medicine graduate curriculum. These courses provide a fundamental background in biochemistry, cell biology, physiology, neuroscience and immunology. Faculty members from various campus departments teach these courses. This unified year-one syllabus also provides students the opportunity to get to know their colleagues on campus.

Year 1 Fall Semester

Required
IPBS 803 - Fundamentals of Receptors and Cell Signaling (2 credit hr)
NSC 820 - Current Methods in Neuroscience (2 credit hrs)
NSC 896 - Research Other than Thesis (1 credit hr)
NSC 911 - Special Topics: Journal Club (1 credit hr)
NSC 970 - Seminar  (1 credit hr). Students must attend 15 weekly seminars.
BIOS 806 - BioStatistics I or an equivalent course
(Other statistics courses can be completed instead such as UNO Course: PSYC 9010 (Pro Seminar: Stat Mthd I) (3 credit hr) (as a UNO course, you will need to submit an intercampus form to Graduate Studies)

Year 1 Spring Semester

Required
NSC 922- Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience (Neurobiology I) (3 credit hrs)
NSC 932- Systems Neuroscience (Neurobiology II) (3 credit hrs)
NSC 999- Doctoral Dissertation (1 credit hr)
NSC 911 - Journal Club (1 credit hr)
NSC 970 - Seminar - (1 credit hr)

Optional: Students interested in optional courses should consult their advisor or the department's Chair of Graduate Studies.

Summer Semester (two sessions)

Required
NSC 999 - Doctoral Dissertation. Four (4) credit hours in the 8 week session of the Summer Seminar.

Additional first year requirements:

Students must complete three laboratory rotations each lasting 5-7 weeks during the first semester.

Rotations must be completed by the start of the second semester.

These rotations provide an introduction to research systems, techniques and approaches. Equally important, these rotations help students in selecting an advisor for their dissertation research. The rotations are credit in NSC 896.

Selecting a Thesis Committee:

A Thesis Committee must be assembled and convened within three months after joining the laboratory where the student's dissertation research will be done and no later than July 31st of the first year.  The Thesis Committee will assist the student in selecting future course work. Thesis Committee meetings must be held every six months and minutes recorded (obtain meeting template from department Graduate Studies assistant). It is the responsibility of the student to schedule these meetings.

The student, in consultation with his/her mentor, selects members of the Thesis Committee. A committee

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Year 2

After the mentor has been chosen, students should begin to enroll in NSC 999 instead of NSC 896.

Year 2 Fall Semester:

Required

An elective course related to your research interests and confirmed by your Thesis committee.

NSC 911 - Journal Club (1 credit hr)
NSC 970 - Seminar (1 credit hr). Students must attend 15 seminars each semester.
NSC 999- Doctoral Dissertation(adjusted so that the total credit hours equals nine)

Possible elective courses (not offered every semester)
NSC 950 - Graduate Pharmacology/Special Topics (2 credit hrs)
PAMM 857 - Medical Immunology (2 credit hrs)
NSC 930 - Neuroimmunology (3 credit hrs)
PHAR 901 - Receptors and Cell Signaling (if offered) (3 credit hrs)
PHAR 902 - Human Specific Disease Modeling (2 credit hrs)
PHAR 907 - Neural Systems & The Physiology of Neuronal Cell Populations (2 credit hrs.)
CIP 814/PHAR 814 - Scientific Writing (2 credit hrs)

Students interested in pharmacology may also consider PHAR 815 - Medical Pharmacology I (5 credit hrs) and PHAR 816 - Medical Pharmacology II

The student must meet with his/her Thesis Committee during the fall semester second year and every six months thereafter. Scheduling timely committee meetings is the responsibility of the student. This information is tracked through Seguidor. Recording minutes from these meetings is required; obtain meeting template from department Graduate Studies assistant.

Year 2 Spring Semester:

Required

Another elective course related to your research interests and confirmed by your Thesis committee.

NSC 911 - Journal Club (1 credit hr)
NSC 970 - Seminar (1 credit hr). Students must attend 15 seminars each semester.
NSC 999- Doctoral Dissertation(1-2 credit hrs)

Possible elective courses (not offered every semester)
NSC 950 - Graduate Pharmacology/Special Topics (2 credit hrs)
PAMM 857 - Medical Immunology (2 credit hrs)
NSC 930 - Neuroimmunology (3 credit hrs)
PHAR 901 - Receptors and Cell Signaling (if offered) (3 credit hrs)
PHAR 902 - Human Specific Disease Modeling (2 credit hrs)
PHAR 907 - Neural Systems & The Physiology of Neuronal Cell Populations (2 credit hrs.)
CIP 814/PHAR 814 - Scientific Writing (2 credit hrs)

Year 2 Summer Semester:

Required
NSC 999 - Dissertation Research. Four (4) credit hours in the 8 week session of the Summer Seminar.

The student's Thesis Committee may recommend additional courses to help a student with his/her project.

Additional Second Year Requirement - Comprehensive Exam

By the start of year two, a student must be working with his/her Thesis Committee to set topic/date/time for Comprehensive Exam.

The Comprehensive Exam is based on a research proposal that is not the same as the student's thesis project unless the research is a new project that is very different from the current research funded in the mentor's laboratory.

The first attempt of the Comprehensive Exam must be completed by the beginning of the first semester, year three. If this timeline cannot be achieved, please contact the Program Director.

Comprehensive Exam

Prior to comprehensive exam, review all department and Graduate Studies requirements (note: Request for Scheduling Comprehensive Examination is done via Seguidor).

A download of the Comprehensive exam Guidelines and Evaluation form can be found here.

Research proposal:

Guidelines for Research Proposal and Defense:

Not achieving these milestones without a very good reason (e.g. major illness, family tragedy, birth of a child) will prohibit the student from registering for classes.  Examples of unacceptable reasons:  mentor not available, could not get the committee together.

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Year 3
After passing the comprehensive exam, the requirement of 9 credit hours per semester is dropped as the student is now a PhD Candidate.

Year 3 Fall Semester

Another elective course related to your research interests and confirmed by your Thesis committee.

Required
NSC 911 - Journal Club (1 credit hr)
NSC 970 - Seminar (1 credit hr). Students must attend 15 seminars per semester.  Besides attending weekly seminars, a student must present a 30 minute seminar, either in the fall OR spring, during the third year; so that the program can gauge the student's progress.
NSC 999 - Doctoral Dissertation (1 credit hrs - ).

Year 3 Spring Semester:

Required
NSC 911 - Journal Club (1 credit hr)
NSC 970 - Seminar (1 credit hr). Students must attend 15 seminars per semester.  In addition to attending weekly seminars, a student must present a 30 minute seminar, either in the fall OR spring, during the third year; so that the program can gauge the student's progress.
NSC 999 - Dissertation Research for PhD candidates (1 credit hr)

Year 3 Summer Semester:

Required
NSC 999 - Dissertation Research. Four (4) credit hours in the 8 week session of the Summer Seminar.

NSC 999 - Dissertation Research. One (1) credit hours in the 8 week session of the Summer Seminar if you have passed your Comprehensive Exam before the Summer started.

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Year 4

Year 4 Fall Semester

Required
NSC 970 - Seminar (1 credit hr). Students must attend 15 seminars each semester. 
NSC 999 - Dissertation Research (1 credit hr)

Year 4 Spring Semester

Required
NSC 970 - Seminar (1 credit hr). Students must attend 15 seminars each semester. 
NSC 999 - Dissertation Research

Year 4 Summer Semester (two sessions):

Required
NSC 999 - Dissertation Research. Four (4) credit hours in the 8 week session of the Summer Seminar.

NSC 999 - Dissertation Research. One (1) credit hours in the 8 week session of the Summer Seminar if you have passed your Comprehensive Exam before the Summer started.

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Year 5 and beyond

Fall Semester

Required
NSC 999 - Dissertation Research (1 credit hr)
NSC 970 - Seminar (1 credit hr)

Spring Semester

Required
NSC 999 - Dissertation Research (1 credit hr)
NSC 970 - Seminar (1 credit hr)

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Seminars, journal clubs and laboratory meetings

In order to obtain a pass grade for NSC 970, students must attend a minimum of 15 weekly department seminars per semester.

Seminars: Guest speakers from other departments and institutions are invited to present their research at formal department seminars (generally held on Fridays).

Journal Clubs: Students participate in the department's journal club (NSC 911) for three years. Each student presents and critiques a paper from the recent research literature, with questions and discussion from their peers. The journal club focuses on a different topic each year, and students receive Special Topics in Pharmacology credit for their participation.

The Journal Club Objectives include:

  1. To become familiar with the scientific literature and with different styles of scientific writing
  2. To become familiar with the components of a good abstract, introduction, methods, results and discussion section of a paper.
  3. To develop skills in critical reading and evaluation of the scientific literature
  4. To learn about the scientific method and its application to solving a variety of current problems in Neuroscience, and associate fields
  5. To acquire skills in giving an effective scientific presentation, including oral speaking and PowerPoint or other visual aids
  6. To become comfortable and confident with presenting, questioning and discussing scientific information with their peers, including other students, postdocs, faculty and the general public
  7. To keep abreast of current research in areas of relevance to modern neuroscience, including outstanding problems, new methodological approaches, and major advances in knowledge and thinking
  8. To foster intellectual curiosity and excitement about science in neuroscience

In addition, students are exposed to a wide variety of new research techniques and experimental systems as well as keeping up with the latest advances in understanding topics related to pharmacology and neuroscience.

Laboratory Meetings: In addition, most laboratories have their own research meetings on a regular basis. Laboratories with shared interests may hold joint meetings, with a focus on planning day-to-day experiments and solving specific problems related to the ongoing research. Students are active participants in these sessions, together with faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and research technicians.

MD, PhD Students
PhD course requirements of MD, PhD students are the same as for other PEN Graduate Students.  They will need to complete three credited courses, one of which must be at the 900 level. Formation of the Thesis Committee must be done within one year of joining the lab, and the comprehensive exam must be done within 1.75 years after joining a lab.

Grievance Policy/Procedures

The PEN department and all of UNMC is dedicated to treating all students fairly. However, if a student feels he/she has been mistreated the university has inform and formal procedures.  Please review the Graduate Studies office grievance resolution procedures.

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IGPBS Neuroscience Committee Members

Keshore Bidasee, PhD, Chairman
Kaushik Patel, PhD
Ryan Wong, PhD
Stephen Bonasera, PhD
Anna Dunaevsky, PhD
Dan Monaghan, PhD
Tony Wilson, PhD
Huangui Xiong, MD, PhD

Mr. Reed Felderman (administrative assistant)

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