Nav: Home

A vision for revamping neuroscience education

June 01, 2016

The expanding scope and growing number of tools used for neuroscience is moving beyond what is taught in traditional graduate programs even as nations around the world make neuroscience a research priority, say leaders in American neuroscience education, funding, and policy. In a Perspective paper published June 1, 2016 in Neuron, the authors call for reinvestment in neuroscience graduate and post-graduate training to meet the challenges of this new era in brain science -- such as creating programs to broaden student experiences across disciplines and reimagining scientific staff positions.

"These are exciting times of tremendous growth that offer us an excellent opportunity to reflect on and strengthen graduate training in the neurosciences and render it more aligned with what's lying ahead," says co-author Edda "Floh" Thiels, PhD, Program Director of the National Science Foundation. "We love our field, we love neuroscience, and we would like to have the strongest cadre of individuals join the enterprise of advancing our understanding of the brain and addressing disease."

The Perspective paper originated from a 2014 workshop at the Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on how to develop the next generation of scientists. The participants, who represented a range of voices in the community, went over the skills that neuroscientists need today to adjust to the explosive growth in neurotechnologies and neuroscience applications that is changing the landscape of occupational opportunities for neuroscience PhDs -- such as deeper quantitative and analytical skills, training in data science, theory, and computational approaches--and how current neuroscience programs could be revised to ensure students receive integrative multi -- and transdisciplinary training for careers in- and outside of academia.

As laid out in the communication, the authors found value in creating two major types of training programs: those that extend on traditional neuroscience training programs, deepening training in key areas, and those that aim to engage and train students with backgrounds in other disciplines (like engineering, physical and mathematical sciences, etc.) in neuroscience.

"There are many smart people who run interesting graduate programs who are trying to confront the fact that neuroscience is very broad; we're just starting a conversation to take all of these efforts to the next level and be more systematic about the exchange of ideas," says co-author Huda Akil, PhD, a professor of neurosciences at the University of Michigan and past president of the Society for Neuroscience. "We also need to find new funding, not necessarily from the government, but other potential partners."

"Patient organizations play a unique role in that we can provide funding and resources for training," said Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation and an author on the paper. "In addition, we hire enterprising neuroscientists to manage our research portfolios and to broker collaborations that aim to solve field-wide challenges."

The goal of the Neuron paper is to start a discussion among the various stakeholders involved in neuroscience education, from graduate program directors and educational branches of funding agencies, to higher education administrators and, most importantly, the students and trainees who will be the future of neuroscience.

"It's a great moment for neuroscience, intellectually, politically, and in terms of talent pool," says Akil. "The task before us is to ensure that this great combination of opportunity and talent is not wasted. As educators, we need to structure the programs to ensure that we simultaneously convey the breadth of options and prepare our students to take full advantage of them."
-end-
Join the conversation in a RedditAMA on June 10th, 1 pm - 3pm EST. The link will be posted on the front page of Reddit at 7 am EST. Participants include: Huda Akil, Floh Thiels, Todd Sherer, David Cardozo, Walter Koroshetz, and Murray Sherman. To register, visit: http://info.cell.com/neuron-reddit-science-ama-2016.

Neuron, Akil et al: "Neuroscience Training for the 21st Century" http://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(16)30209-4

The authors' views are personal views and do not necessarily represent those of the NIH and NSF, the Federal Government, or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Neuron (@NeuroCellPress), published by Cell Press, is a bimonthly journal that has established itself as one of the most influential and relied upon journals in the field of neuroscience and one of the premier intellectual forums of the neuroscience community. It publishes interdisciplinary articles that integrate biophysical, cellular, developmental, and molecular approaches with a systems approach to sensory, motor, and higher-order cognitive functions. Visit http://www.cell.com/neuron. To receive Cell Press media alerts, contact press@cell.com.


Cell Press

Related Neuroscience Articles:

Researchers rebuild the bridge between neuroscience and artificial intelligence
In an article in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers reveal that they have successfully rebuilt the bridge between experimental neuroscience and advanced artificial intelligence learning algorithms.
The evolution of neuroscience as a research
When the first issue of the JDR was published, the field of neuroscience did not exist but over subsequent decades neuroscience has emerged as a scientific field that has particular relevance to dentistry.
Diabetes-Alzheimer's link explored at Neuroscience 2019
Surprising links exist between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, and researchers are beginning to unpack the pathology that connects the two.
Organoid research revealed at Neuroscience 2019
Mini-brains, also called organoids, may offer breakthroughs in clinical research by allowing scientists to study human brain cells without a human subject.
The neuroscience of autism: New clues for how condition begins
UNC School of Medicine scientists found that a gene mutation linked to autism normally works to organize the scaffolding of brain cells called radial progenitors necessary for the orderly formation of the brain.
Harnessing reliability for neuroscience research
Neuroscientists are amassing the large-scale datasets needed to study individual differences and identify biomarkers.
Blue Brain solves a century-old neuroscience problem
In a front-cover paper published in Cerebral Cortex, EPFL's Blue Brain Project, a Swiss Brain Research Initiative, explains how the shapes of neurons can be classified using mathematical methods from the field of algebraic topology.
Characterizing pig hippocampus could improve translational neuroscience
Researchers have taken further steps toward developing a superior animal model of neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury and epilepsy, according to a study of miniature pigs published in eNeuro.
The neuroscience of human vocal pitch
Among primates, humans are uniquely able to consciously control the pitch of their voices, making it possible to hit high notes in singing or stress a word in a sentence to convey meaning.
Study tackles neuroscience claims to have disproved 'free will'
For several decades, some researchers have argued that neuroscience studies prove human actions are driven by external stimuli -- that the brain is reactive and free will is an illusion.

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.