On January 9-16, 2015 at MBL, the Brown Neuroscience Graduate Program returned to MBL for their intensive practical lab course called NeuroPracticum. Directed by Professors Anne Hart and Christopher Moore of Brown University, this intense course provides a hands-on practical lab experience in neuroscience experimental design, methodology and interpretation. Twelve Brown University graduate students took the course this winter. Most were 1st year graduate students in the Brown University Neuroscience NSGP and GPP programs. However, several students in the course were from affiliated graduate programs at Brown and attended with the support of the Brown Institute for Brain Sciences.
Before the course, students attended preparatory lectures held at Brown University and were given readings in pertinent neuroscience topics. During the course, students were at the bench full time, working side-by-side with faculty and teaching assistants. Each faculty member guided students through the intellectual and technical background of their respective fields. This year, the course was taught by faculty members from both Brown University and MBL. Dr. Diane Lipscombe and Dr. Scott Cruikshank each taught students the basics of electrophysiology- including in vitro brain slice recordings and extracellular single channel patch recordings in mammalian cell lines. Dr. Hart introduced students to behavioral genetics and molecular biology using the nematode C. elegans. Dr. Moore gave students hands-on experience with multi-electrode recordings from freely behaving mice. And, Dr Jennifer Morgan of MBL used studies of regeneration in the lamprey to introduce immunohistochemistry and cell biological approaches. In addition, selected senior graduate students from the Brown Neuroscience Program joined the course faculty and pursued their own research studies through training the younger students.
The NeuroPracticum course is a key feature of the Brown University Neuroscience Graduate Program curriculum, proving a critical practical component that helps students understand how science is actually done at the bench. Students, faculty and teaching assistants were at the bench in Loeb and Rowe all day and late into the night, reminiscent of MBL’s renowned summer courses.