Curriculum in Neurobiology




Eva Anton, Molecular Analysis of Neuronal Migration and Layer Formation in Cerebral Cortex

Aysenil Belger, Cortical Circuits Underlying Attention and Executive Function in the Human Brain

George R. Breese (2) Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, Neuropharmacology, Alcoholism, Neuroplasticity, Transcription Factors, RT/PCR Developmental Disorders, Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Regina M. Carelli (142) Behavioral Neurophysiology, Neurobiology of Drug Abuse, Brain Reward Systems

Richard E. Cheney (136) Molecular Motors in the Nervous System, Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology of the Cytoskeleton

Fulton T. Crews (133) Molecular Aspects of Neuronal Vitality and Alcohol

Stephen T. Crews (129) Molecular Genetics of Drosophila Nervous System Development, Control of Neural Gene Regulation

Serena Dudek, Connections in the Brain (Synapses) Change in Response to Activity, How Synaptic Plasticity During Early Postnatal Development is Different from Plasticity in the Adult

Linda Dykstra (51) Behavioral Pharmacology, Opioid Analgesics, Opioid/Immune Interactions

John H. Gilmore (137) Human Brain Development, Immune Regulation of Neurodevelopment, Schizophrenia

Kelly Giovanello, Exploring the Cognitive and Neural Processes Mediating Memory in Young Adults and Specifying How These Processes Change with Healthy Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease

Susan Girdler, Women's Health, Neuroendocrine Dysregulation in Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Michael F. Goy (111) Biochemistry and Physiology of Excitable Cells, Synapse Formation, Second Messenger Mechanisms in Signal Transduction, Epithelial Biology

Klaus Hahn, To Understand Cell Behaviors Mediated by Structural Dynamics

T. Kendall Harden (59) G-proteins, Phospholipase C, and Receptor-Mediated Regulation of Second Messenger Signaling; P2-purinergic Receptors

Clyde W. Hodge (150) Neurobehavioral Pharmacology and Pharmacogenomics of Addiction

Donald T. Lysle (122) Neuroimmunology, Learning Processes

William Maixner (112) Pain Mechanisms and Analgesia

Patricia F. Maness (90) Cell Adhesion and Signal Transduction in Developing Neurons

Paul B. Manis (151) Cellular Basis of Auditory Information Processing in Brainstem and Cortex

Greg Matera, Genetics and Cell Biology of RNP Assembly and Transport

Glenn Matsushima, The Responses of Macrophages during Injury to the Central Nervous System and during Inflammation after Insult by Bacterial Pathogens

Ken D. McCarthy (77) Neuronal-Glial Interactions Studied in Hippocampal Brain Slices Using Electrophysiology, Confocal Imaging, and Conditional Gene Knockout Mice

Rick B. Meeker (107) Neuroendocrine Regulation, Glutamate Receptors, Mechanisms of AIDS Dementia

A. Leslie Morrow (121) Molecular Neurobiology of GABAA Receptors and Alcoholism

Robert A. Nicholas (147) Signaling and Targeting Pathways of P2Y Nucleotide Receptors

Mark Peifer, Cell Adhesion, Signal Transduction, and Cytoskeletal Regulation in Development and Disease

Joseph Piven, Pathogenesis of Autism including Neural Mechanisms, Genetic Basis and Neuropsychological and Behavioral Phenotype

Bryan Roth, GPCR Structure and Function, Drug Discovery

Richard J. Samulski (135) Development of Viral Vectors for Brain Specific Gene Delivery

Richard Segal, Spatial Organization and Plasticity of Lower Limb Muscle Activity

William D. Snider (148) Developmental Regulation of Neuronal Growth Factors

Jenny P. Ting (105) Use of Murine Models to Study the Role and Regulation of Inflammatory Genes in Demyelination and Remyelination

Todd Thiele, Neurobiology of Alcoholism

Alex Tropsha, Methodologies and Software Tools for Computer-Assisted Drug Design

Richard Weinberg, Supramolecular Organization of the Postsynaptic Density, Calcium Sources and Actin-Binding Proteins in Spines

R. Mark Wightman (118) Neurotransmitters, Dopamine Reward Exocytosis, Neurochemistry

Associate Professors

James Bear, Actin-Based Cell Motility

Jay Brenman, Neuronal Dendrite and Axon Morphologies

Sabrina Burmeister, Mechanisms and Evolution of Social Behavior by Studying Communication in Frogs

Mohanish Deshmukh, Neuronal Apoptosis, the Mechanisms by Which Different Cells Regulate Apoptosis

Joseph Hopfinger, Investigation of Attention Mechanisms in the Brain Using the Methods of Event-Related Potential (ERP) Recording, Eye-Tracking, and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI)

Josephine Johns, Behavioral Pharmacology, Toxicology, Teratology, Neuroendocrinology

Rita Fuchs-Lokensgard, Associative Learning and Memory in Cue-Induced Relapse to Drug Seeking

Carl J. Malanga, Child Neurology, Movement Disorders

Silva Markovic-Plese, Autoimmune Response in MS, New Immunomodulatory Therapies

Benjamin Philpot, Modification of the Cerebral Cortex by Sensory Experience

Keith Sockman, Using Birds, Study of the Ultimate and Proximate Mechanisms for Reproductive Flexibility

Ellen R. Weiss (144) Regulation of G Protein Signaling Pathways, Visual Signal Transduction

Kirk Wilhelmsen, The Genetic Mapping of Susceptibility Loci for Complex Neurological Diseases, Development of Large-Scale Automated Gene Mapping Technologies to Facilitate These Mapping Efforts

Mark Zylka, Molecules and Mechanisms for Pain

Assistant Professors

Charlotte Boettiger, Determining the Cognitive Effects of Addiction Treatments and the Brain Mechanisms of Such Effects

Andrea Nackley, Pain Neurobiology and Genetics

Joyce Besheer, Neurobiological Mechanisms Underlying Alcoholism and Addiction

Gabriel Dichter, Understanding and Improving Treatments for Neurodevelopmental and Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Flavio Frohlich, Combining Electrophysiology, Computational Modeling, and Engineering Principles to Investigate How Cortical Networks Generate Physiological and Pathological Activity States

Tim Gershon, Regulation of Neural Progenitor Proliferation in Normal Development and in Pediatric Brain Tumors

Stephanie Gupton, Coordination and Regulation of Cytoskeletal Dynamics and Membrane Trafficking that Underlie Cell Shape Change and Cell Motility during Both Development and Cancer Metastasis

Tom Kash, Synaptic Transmission and Plasticity

Rebecca Knickmeyer-Santelli, Understanding the Mechanisms which Modulate the Differential Vulnerability to and Expression of Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Each Sex with a Particular Focus on Hormonal and Genetic Factors

Ryan Miller, Characterization of the Molecular Genetic Mechanisms Responsible for This Heterogeneity Using Tumor Tissues

Donita Robinson, Chemistry and Physiology of the Nucleus Accumbens

Yen-Yu Ian Shih, Developing and Applying Innovative Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologies to Study Neurovascular Functions in the Brain and the Eye, with an Ultimate Goal of Translating Preclinical Indications to Successful Clinical Development

Spencer Smith, Neural Circuitry and How it Changes Moment-to-Moment, as Well as Over a Lifetime, Using Imaging, Electrophysiology, and Behavior

Garret Stuber, Elucidating the Synaptic Mechanisms That Underlie Storage and Expression of Learned Association in Models of Psychiatric Disorders

Lisa Tarantino

Ann Marion Taylor, Micro-Scale Devices, Microfluidics, Synapse Formation, Synaptic Plasticity, Protein Synthesis

Doug Fitzpatrick, Sound Localization Pathways

The Curriculum in Neurobiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a broadly-based interdisciplinary graduate training program in the neurosciences. With 80 active faculty, strong research funding, and a long and successful training history, the Curriculum ranks among the best programs in the country.

Our program has 70 primary faculty members who can serve as dissertation advisors. Research opportunities in the curriculum are supported by the presence of an active neuroscience community at UNC–Chapel Hill. This community includes members of every basic science department in the School of Medicine, members of many clinical departments, as well as several departments in the Arts and Sciences. University research and clinical centers with a neuroscience component also contribute to the vibrant and active community that makes Neurobiology a major intellectual focus at UNC–Chapel Hill.

The Neurobiology Curriculum has an average of 45 students at different levels of training at any given time; typically 5–8 students are accepted each year depending on available funding. Students in the Curriculum are supported during their first 1–2 years by a long-standing training grant funded through NINDS and NIMH, and in subsequent years by either their mentor's research grants or individual fellowships. The average time to graduation is 5.3 years.

Neuroscience is by its very nature an interdisciplinary endeavor, and at UNC–Chapel Hill the Curriculum in Neurobiology provides a broadly structured training curriculum and research environment that spans the range from genetic studies of the nervous system through the complexities of human cognitive function

Applicants are urged to complete their applications through BBSP by early December.

Courses required for the Ph.D. degree in neurobiology include:

I. NBIO 722A, 722B, 722C, 723A, 723B, 723C

Block 1 — Introduction / Electrical Signaling (NBIO 722A) (18 sessions). This first half of this block introduces such topics as brain cell biology, molecular biology applied to neurons, membrane potentials and imaging methods. The second half of this block introduces such topics as resistance, capacitance, passive membranes, classes of ion channels, potassium and calcium channels and action potential initiation. Fall. *Pevny, Hutton, Street, Ghuksyan, Robinson, Newbern, Brenman, Sealock, Stuber, and Manis.

Block 2 — Postsynaptic Mechanisms- Receptors (NBIO 722B) (10 sessions). This block covers such topics as cell and G Protein signaling, ligand binding, GABA-gated ion chanels, neurotransmitter receptor trafficking and dopamine release and receptors. Fall. *Manis, Brenman, Harden, Nicholas, Weiss, Robinson, Kash, Stuber, and McElligott.

Block 3 — Synaptic Mechanisms and Intracellular Signaling (NBIO 722C) (10 sessions). This block introduces calcium signaling, electrophysiological analysis and molecular mechanisms of neurotransmitter release, synaptic plasticity and expression and maintenance of LTP and LTD. Fall. *Philpot, Carelli, Kash, McCarthy, Wightman, and Stuber.

Block 4 — Development of the Nervous System (NBIO 723A) (11 sessions). This block covers neural induction, neural stem cells, glial development, neural cell death and neurotrophin during development and synaptic adhesion molecules. Spring. *Crews, Maness, Anton, Deshmukh, and Stuber.

Block 5 — CNS: Anatomy and Function of Sensory and Motor Systems (NBIO 723B) (17 sessions). This block introduces the sensory pathways of vision, audition, taste, olfaction, pain, and touch, as well as the motor pathways of the spinal cord, basal ganglia, cerebellum, and motor cortex. Mechanisms of sensory information processing and motor execution are discussed. The section includes peripheral and central mechanisms of pain. Spring. *Zylka, Manis, Fitzpatrick, Philpot, Segal, Shoemaker, Stuber and Weiss.

Block 6 —Imaging and Disease (NBIO 723C) (12 sessions). This block covers CNS imaging, regeneration, and such diseases as Alzheimer's, ALS, Parkinson's, epilepsy, addiction, autism and schizophrenia. Spring. *Snider, Manis, Boettiger, Gilmore, Frohlich, McNamara, Stuber and Piven.

*denotes block head

II. Communicating Scientifics Results Seminar in Neurobiology (NBIO 850)

This class employs faculty coaching and peer critiquing to develop students' skills in speaking and writing about science with ease, clarity, and precision. The class aims to build self-confidence and the ability to take criticism without defensiveness. It meets once a week for 1.25 hours for both semesters. Students take this course for two semesters; second-year students are paired with first-year students as mentors, as rehearsal partners, and as editing partners for written assignments. The class size is approximately 16 students. Each session is coached by two faculty members, Ann Stuart and an invited neurobiology or cell and molecular physiology faculty member. Thus, the class also provides a mechanism for expanded student-faculty bonding, reinforced by a social event at the end of each semester.

Two elective specialty courses and three research apprenticeships (via BBSP) in different laboratories fulfill the course requirement. The courses menu lists descriptions of these core courses of the Neurobiology Curriculum; other selected offerings are shown under the "Electives." Additional elective courses in biochemistry, statistics, molecular biology, physiology, etc., are available to compensate for specific deficiencies or enhance training. It is the current philosophy of the curriculum faculty that students should receive a broad exposure to as many aspects of neuroscience as reasonable, from molecules and genetics through systems, behavior, and human diseases of the nervous system.

The following is a partial list of courses that neurobiology students may consider for their elective requirements. Please see the relevant section of this publication for current detailed course descriptions. Fall and Spring. Goy

Special Topics in Neurobiology: Microscopy and Imaging in Neurobiology (NBIO 890)

Special Topics in Neurobiology: The Methods in Genetic Engineering (NBIO 890-002)

Special Topics in Neurobiology: Network Neuroscience (NBIO 890-003)

Developmental Neurobiology (NBIO 724)

Neural Information Processing (NBIO 729)

Clinical Syndromes and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (NBIO 801)

Gene-Brain-Behavior Interactions in Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Towards an Integration of Perspectives on Disease Mechanisms (NBIO 800)

Biological Bases of Behavior I (PSYC 701)

Biological Bases of Behavior II (PSYC 702)

Translational Seminar in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience (NBIO 727)

Seminar in Neurobiology: Principles of Brain Evolution (BIOL 850)

Neuropharmacology of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (PHCO 728)

Developmental Genetics (BIOL 624)

Principles of Statistics Infer (BIOS 600)

Applied Biostatistics (PHCO 750)

Research Ethics (GRAD 721)

Developmental Toxicology and Teratology (CBIO 423)

Studies in Oral Biology (OBIO 732)

Clinical Psychopharmacology (PSYC 707)

Behavioral Pharmacology (NBIO 705)

Seminar in the Biological Foundations of Psychology (PSYC 708)

Special Readings in Psychology (PSYC 791)

Statistical Methods in Psychology (PSYC 830)

Courses for Graduate and Advanced Undergraduate Students


400 Conditioning and Learning (PSYC 400) (3). See PSYC 400 for description.

401 Animal Behavior (PSYC 401) (3). See PSYC 401 for description.

402 Advanced Biopsychology (PSYC 402) (3). See PSYC 402 for description.

411 Neurobiology Laboratory Apprenticeship (1–21). Permission of the department. A laboratory-tutorial course to acquaint the student with methods used in several areas of neurobiology.

412 Neurobiology Laboratory Apprenticeship (1–21). Permission of the department. A laboratory-tutorial course to acquaint the student with methods used in several areas of neurobiology.

450 Tutorial in Neurobiology (3). Permission of the instructor. A tutorial in selected topics in neurobiology tailored to meet interests of the students and competencies of instructors.

Courses for Graduate Students


701A Behavior and its Biological Bases I (PSYC 701) (3). See PSYC 701 for description.

702A Behavior and Its Biological Bases II (PSYC 702) (3). See PSYC 702 for description.

703 Advanced Biological Psychology: Central Nervous System (PSYC 703) (3). See PSYC 703 for description.

704 Applications of Experimental Psychology to Health Research (PSYC 704) (3). See PSYC 704 for description.

705 Behavioral Pharmacology (PSYC 705, PHCO 705) (3). See PSYC 705 for description.

708 Seminar in the Biological Foundations of Psychology (PSYC 708) (3). See PSYC 708 for description.

710 Medical Neurobiology (PHYI 710) (3). See PHYI 710 for description.

722A Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology: Introduction and Electrical Signaling (BIOC 722A, PHCO 722A, PHYI 722A) (2). Permission of the department. Introduces topics as brain cell biology, molecular biology applied to neurons, membrane potentials and imaging methods. The second half of this block introduces such topics as resistance, capacitance, passive membranes, classes of ion channels, potassium and calcium channels, and action potential initiation.

722B Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology: Postsynaptic Mechanisms-Receptors (BIOC 722B, PHCO 722B, PHYI 722B) (2). Permission of the department. Consideration of membrane receptor molecules activated by neurotransmitters in the nervous system with emphasis on ligand binding behavior and molecular and functional properties of different classes of receptors. Course meets for four weeks with six lecture hours per week.

722C Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology: Synaptic Mechanisms & Intracellular Signaling (BIOC 722C, PHCO 722C, PHYI 722C) (2). Permission of the department. Explores biochemical signal transduction events following activation of neurotransmitter receptors including G-protein coupling, desensitization, signaling specificity, downstream effectors, calcium signaling, and tyrosine kinases. Course meets for five weeks with six lecture hours per week.

723A Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology: Development of the Nervous System (BIOC 723A, PHCO 723A, PHYI 723A) (2). Permission of the department. This block covers neural induction, neural stem cells, glial development, neural cell death and neurotrophin during development, and synaptic adhesion molecules.

723B Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology: Anatomy and Function of Sensory and Motor Systems (BIOC 723B, PHCO 723B, PHYI 723B) (2). Permission of the department. This block introduces the sensory pathways of vision, audition, taste, olfaction, pain, and touch, as well as the motor pathways of the spinal cord, basal ganglia, cerebellum, and motor cortex. Discusses mechanisms of sensory information processing and motor execution. Includes peripheral and central mechanisms of pain.

723C Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology: Imaging & Disease (2). This block covers CNS imaging, regeneration, and such diseases as Alzheimer's, ALS, Parkinson's, epilepsy, addiction, autism, and schizophrenia..

724 Developmental Neurobiology (PHYI 724) (3). See PHYI 724 for description.

725 Experimental Neurophysiology (3). Permission of the instructor. Six or more laboratory hours a week.

727 Translational Seminar in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience (2). Introduces new neuroimaging techniques and their application to the study of neural correlates of cognitive and behavioral impairments in brain disorders. Reviews the theories and research methodologies that investigate how brain functions support and give rise to mental operations such as attention, memory, emotions, social cognition in the healthy brain.

728 Diseases of the Nervous System (2). Prerequisites, NBIO 201, or 222 and 223. Explores the basic neurobiology and the clinical aspects of a range of diseases of the nervous system, including ALS, Alzheimer's, autism, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, deafness, epilepsy, pain, brain tumors, stroke, Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

729 Sensory Neural Information Processing and Representation (3). Prerequisites, NBIO 722 and 733. Additional required preparation, one year of calculus, familiarity with MATLAB or Python, or permission of the instructor. A discussion/reading seminar covering the fundamentals of nervous system information processing and integration, with examples from sensory systems.

735 Seminar in Chemical Neurobiology (2). Required preparation, two semesters of biochemistry.

800 Gene-Brain-Behavior Interactions in Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Perspectives on Disease Mechanisms (1-5). This seminar examines the topics of genetics, neuroanatomy, physiology, and behavioral development to provide a broad-based and integrated background to understand the etiology and potential mechanism underlying neurodevelopmental disorders.

801 Clinical Syndromes and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (1-5). This seminar will review the epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of neurodevelopmental syndromes and disorders. Topics will range from single gene (e.g. fragile X syndrome and tuberous sclerosis) to complex genetic (e.g., autism, schizophrenia), to environmental disorders with varied phenotypes, pathogenetic mechanisms, and treatments.

824 Pain and Somatic Sensation (PHYI 824) (1–21). See PHYI 824 for description.

850 Seminar in Neurobiology (BIOL 850, PHYI 850, PHCO 850) (3). Permission of the department. An intensive consideration of selected topics and problems in neurobiology. The course focuses on the development of presentation and evaluation skills of the trainees. Six credit hours required for neurobiology graduates.

857 Seminar in Comparative Animal Behavior (BIOL 857) (1-2). See BIOL 857 for description.

858 Seminar in Comparative Physiology (BIOL 858) (1-2). See BIOL 858 for description.

890 Special Topics in Neurobiology (1-5). Special topics in neurobiology. Content will vary from semester to semester.

891 Special Topics in Physiology (PHYI 712A) (1–5). See PHYI 712A for description.

892 Special Topics in Physiology (PHYI 712B) (1–5). Permission of the instructor. Individually arranged in-depth programs of selected topics such as membrane function, transport physiology, renal physiology, etc.

951 Research in Neurobiology (BIOL 951, PHCO 951, PHYI 951) (3–12). Permission of the department. Research in various aspects of neurobiology. Six to 24 hours a week.

993 Master's Thesis (3–9). Course is designed to certify that the students have achieved a high level of knowledge competence in clinical and basic neurosciences, without the rigorous research experience required of a Ph.D.

994 Doctoral Dissertation (3–9).