Curriculum

IMPRS for Brain and Behavior curriculum comprises both theoretical and practical hands-on training elements divided into mandatory and optional courses. To maximize the benefits of international education, students take courses at both CAESAR and MPFI, allowing students to interact with a broad group of international scientists. The range of expertise of IMPRS for Brain and Behavior faculty provides rich coverage of the theory and methodology required for cutting-edge neurobiological research.

All first year students will bond with their fellow classmates while learning essential topics in electrophysiology, microscopy and optics by immersion in a two week long intensive hands-on workshop hosted on alternate years by caesar/Uni Bonn or MPFI/FAU. This is a theoretical and laboratory course on the optical principles of microscopy and electrical principles of electrophysiology. An understanding of how to collect, analyze, and interpret electrophysiological data is essential. Students will learn extracellular recording and whole-cell patch clamp in brain slices and in vivo. A strong foundation in optics and microscopy is key for neurobiologists. Students will have the opportunity to configure and analyze optical components in modern microscopy and understand the principles involved. Both linear optics and multiphoton optics will be covered.
The advanced neurobiology lectures will provide a sound foundation in neurobiology. Lectures are grouped into the following topical blocks: Molecular biology; Cellular biology; Cellular neuroscience; Functional neuroanatomy; Learning, memory and behavior; and Neurodevelopment.
BIGS Lecture Series:

BIGS faculty present their latest research in this thematically organized series. The BIGS Lecture Series takes place ten times during each semester and is oriented towards providing first insights into cutting edge techniques in neuroscience. Each semester covers one of the following topics: Neural circuits and dendritic integration, Glia and non-neuronal cells, Neurological diseases, Neurodevelopment, Essential techniques, and Cognition and systems neuroscience.

MPFI Seminar Series and Meet the Speaker Club:

Internationally renowned scientists will visit MPFI to present their latest research covering a broad range of topics in neurobiology. The Meet the Speakers Club will meet in conjunction with the MPFI seminar series. Invited speakers are asked to provide background papers on the research to be presented at the seminar. Students will meet prior to the seminar and present these papers. The goal is for students to understand the methodology and logic of the research to stimulate more active participation in the lecture series. A lunch with the speaker will follow the lecture.

Various research forums are available for students and postdoctoral fellows to present their research to the institute at large such that feedback can be given and students can benefit from the collective wisdom of the scientific community.
The SunposiumTM is a biennial international meeting in Florida with invited speakers representing the apex of neurobiological research. The theme of the meeting varies but a focus on understanding brain circuits is a constant. Second and third year students will be invited to present their research at the poster session.
The annual BonnBrain3 meeting gathers the neuroscience community of the University of Bonn together with distinguished researchers from around the world for discussion and collaboration on current neurobiological questions. Second and third year IMPRS students will be invited to present their research in poster sessions or as short talks on alternate years with the SunposiumTM.

Mini-Units are 1-2 day courses designed to provide students with an appropriate foundation in essential techniques/capabilities. They are intended to complete the first year curriculum, but may also be taken at a later stage.

Mini-Unit 1: Ethics in research

Taught in conjunction with the Institute for Science and Ethics at Uni Bonn or at FAU (mandatory for all students).

Mini-Unit 2: Statistics

Course on applied statistics in the computer lab of Uni Bonn’s Graduate School of Medical Neuroscience, complemented by homework/assigned problems and will be provided online for students in Florida.

Mini-Unit 3: Animal handling/husbandry

Taught in conjunction with the Haus für Experimentelle Therapie (HET) and the Animal Resource Center (ARC) at MPFI.

Mini-Unit 4: Advanced Microscopy

Taught in conjunction with the Microscopy Core of the DZNE and the Light Microscopy Core at MPFI.

Mini-Unit 5: Programming and data analysis

Hands-on course in the computer lab of Uni Bonn’s Graduate School Medical Neuroscience covering Matlab, Igor, and ImageJ and will be provided online for students in Florida.

Mini-Unit 6: Advanced Electron Microscopy

Taught at the Electron Microscopy Core at MPFI.

Mini-Unit 7: Atomic Force Microscopy in Neuroscience

Taught at the Yasuda Laboratory at MPFI

The thesis research project is the cornerstone of the program. Successful progression through the thesis research culminating in the doctoral degree is the top mentoring priority of the thesis advisor and thesis advisory committee. This is fostered by well-defined guidelines, clear forums for communication and feedback and advisors at the apex of their specialty with access to enabling state of the art equipment and molecular techniques. In summary, the program offers the traditional mentored Ph.D. thesis research with the expanded opportunity for exposure to the international collaborative style of science that will dominate scientific research of the future.