The Graduate Program for Neuroscience
We are the students and faculty of GPN!
GPN is a University-wide Ph.D. degree-granting program in neuroscience that unites the graduate training faculty present on our two campuses, the Charles River Campus (CRC) and the Medical Campus (BUMC).
The research of our training faculty covers virtually all areas of neuroscience and GPN serves as the community nexus point for all neuroscience training missions at Boston University.
An essential feature of our training mission is a set of core courses that are taken by all GPN students which are aimed at developing a community of thinkers, who move through their training together, building relationships that cross inter-departmental and inter-campus barriers, and foster cross disciplinary collaborations.
As members of the unified program, neuroscience faculty serve as thesis research mentors and/or knowledge facilitators, and work together to help students bridge the gap between their knowledge base of individual disciplines as well as their understanding of computational and experimental models. Every effort is expended to provide an individually tailored mentorship and educational program for each student that builds upon their unique strengths and interests, while also recognizing areas that need enrichment via faculty guidance and curriculum choice.
There are four aspects of modern neuroscience that our Program seeks to address:
First, it is becoming increasingly clear that important breakthroughs in the field require ideas, approaches and techniques originating from many disciplines. The GPN curriculum provides both (i) a broad cross-disciplinary core education including molecular, cellular and systems, cognitive and behavioral, computational and clinical; and (ii) the flexibility to take neuroscience related coursework in any of the departments and programs of the University to build depth of specialization along different perspectives in a particular area of neuroscience.
Second, a critical aspect of GPN is the formation of a unified group of graduate students from across BU, including Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and our Medical School. For the first year of training in GPN, these students take the “core” courses together, have the opportunity to be involved in common projects, and will participate as a community in all Boston University neuroscience activities.
Third, critical to the interdisciplinary focus of the training, is the participation of traditional science departments, which provide a large number of the elective courses and specialized training opportunities to complement the GPN curriculum.
Fourth, a strong emphasis is placed on building relationships among students and faculty across multiple disciplines to complement the traditional mentorship by the thesis advisor and to provide entry into the neuroscience research/student community of multiple BU schools with alternative scientific perspectives.
The Diverse Student Body
Because students who enter GPN come from diverse backgrounds including psychology, engineering, biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, upon their mutual acceptance into the program they are given the opportunity to fill any gaps in their training that might interfere with their ability to do their best in the upcoming “core” curriculum of their first and second years. This could mean enrolling in a particular summer course(s), taking a summer hands-on laboratory methods section (Tools of the Trade) that is organized by GPN faculty to introduce basic techniques in molecular or behavioral research; or even, structured readings/discussions over the summer with a faculty member that are designed to stimulate a deeper understanding of a core discipline such as biology, biochemistry, or mathematics that might not have been fully emphasized in undergraduate coursework.
It is our belief that with a coherent Educational Program that embraces multiple complementary attitudes and approaches to scientific inquiry – breath as well as depth, multi-disciplinary as well as traditional discipline, basic as well as clinical science, and experimental approaches as well as theoretical (computational)–there is the greatest opportunity to create a young generation of researchers with sufficient expertise and flexibility to be able to come together and address some of the “big problems” in Neuroscience.