The Neurosciences Study Program is designed to provide a multidisciplinary opportunity for third year medical students over the broad range of basic and clinical neurosciences. Many of the most intractable and prevalent diseases of our time afflict the nervous system, and in many ways research in the neurosciences represents one of the final frontiers of medicine and biomedical science. Areas of study range from molecular and cellular neuroscience, neuroimaging, developmental neurobiology, systems and cognitive neuroscience to translational neuroscience such as animal modeling of neurological disease and development of potential therapeutics. Faculty in the program are drawn from many departments including Neurobiology, Radiology, Pharmacology, Cell Biology, Psychology, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Pediatrics, Medicine, Psychiatry, and Ophthalmology, and are engaged in research that ranges from fundamental properties of ion channels and neurotransmitter receptors to cognition and perception. The program emphasizes a basic research experience under the guidance of a mentor along with opportunities to attend seminars and present results in written, oral, and poster presentations.
Research: The basic component of the Neurosciences Study Program is an in-depth research experience in a research laboratory under the supervision of one of the participating faculty. Students will work full-time in a laboratory pursuing an independent research project including conducting experiments, analyzing results, and communicating findings.
Proposal: All students are expected to prepare a 2-3 page proposal by the beginning of the third year, outlining the aims of the proposed research in consultation with their chosen mentor. This proposal should state the problem to be studied, the rationale and relevance of the problem, the specific hypotheses to be tested, a brief description of the experiments to be performed, and references. In addition, Vascular, Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Stroke Center conferences can also be attended. Although there are no specific course requirements in the Program, students may pursue their own particular interests by taking or auditing courses recommended by their mentor or relevant to their research project.
Seminars: Students will be able to attend regular seminar series including the Division of Neurology Research Seminar, the Neurobiology Seminar, Signal Transduction Colloquium, Cell Biology Seminar, and Brain Imaging Seminar as appropriate for their particular research project. Attendance at research seminars is encouraged.
Meetings: Students will attend monthly informal meetings with Dr. Lascola to discuss proposed research plans, ongoing projects and career development issues. Students will be encouraged to present and discuss data. Outside speakers may also be invited to discuss particular topics of interest.
Posters: Students are expected to submit abstracts to present results in poster or oral format at the annual Alpha Omega Alpha research day in August.
Final Thesis: At the end of the research year, students are required to write a description of their hypotheses, the outcome of their experiments, and conclusions of their work (15-25 pages).
Director: C. Rory Goodwin, MD, PhD, Director of Spinal Oncology, Department of Neurosurgery, Spine Division, Duke University.