About Our Program
1987 the GPN was established as a doctoral degree program. Its
strengths include an innovative curriculum (e.g., introductory
laboratory course at the Lake Itasca Biological Station and two-year
curriculum in career skills), research across the breadth of
neuroscience (genes to behavior) and training in experimental
approaches to studying the nervous system (confocal microscopy to
GPN is currently regarded as an exemplary interdisciplinary graduate
training program of the University. Although it is housed
administratively within the Medical School, the faculty who constitute
the program have appointments in 25 departments across 8 colleges.
Members of this diverse intellectual community meet weekly to learn
about research conducted by faculty and students in the program.
Continuous financial commitments from the Graduate School, the Academic
Health Center, the School of Medicine, and the Department of
Neuroscience (formed in 1999) are indicators of the high regard that
the academic units within the University hold for our program.
PowerPoint created for January 2003 meeting at Carnegie, describing our doctoral program.
Key Ideas PowerPoint
PowerPoint created for January 2003 meeting at Carnegie, describing the Key Ideas we want to explore.
Exemplary Element: Neurobiology at Lake Itasca
This snapshot describes the laboratory course at the Biological Station
"up North" that introduces our students to graduate education in
neuroscience at the University of Minnesota
Exemplary Element: Colloquium
This snapshot describes the weekly research discussion hosted by the GPN.
Who Are We?
partnership of the GPN with the CID is led by a coordinating committee.
This committee includes one faculty member and one student from each
sub-committee that addresses issues related to training, faculty, or
student recruitment and retention.
Coordinating Committee Members
Bill Engeland, Director of Graduate Studies
Glenn Giesler (chair) - faculty subcommittee
Paul Mermelstain (co-chair) - student recruitment and retention subcommittee
Ginger Seybold (chair) - training subcommittee
John Soechting (co-chair)-student recruitment and retention sub-committee
Terence Burns - training subcomittee
Katherine Himes - faculty sub-committee
Tim Ebner, Head, Department of Neuroscience
What we want to accomplish in the CID?
17 years, the GPN has grown to more than 100 faculty and a current
enrollment of 60-65 students. The maturity of the program is reflected
in the increasing number of our graduates being recruited to
tenure-track faculty positions at doctorate-granting institutions.
Since the structure of our program and the intent of our faculty has
been to attain this goal, we will continue to focus on this endpoint.
as partners in the CID, it will be important to reflect on our
effectiveness in training neuroscientists for a variety of careers. For
example, some of our graduates have assumed roles as educators in
teaching institutions, coordinators in research labs and leaders in
biotech companies. In addition, how should we factor the range of
outcomes in evaluation of the sucessfulness of the program?
are also training an increasing number of M.D.-PhD. students. It is
important to determine how our program prepares M.D.-Ph.D. students to
contribute as academic leaders in clinical neuroscience,
physician-scientists or practicing physicians.
the goal of participation in the CID is to support an effort by our
faculty and students to examine critically the structure of our program
in order to better accomplish our mission: to train highly productive
What are we doing?
reflections at the beginning of our partnership with the CID focus on
the relationship of the fundamental elements of our program to the
training of neuroscientists:
is the goal of the oral preliminary exam? How can the structure of the
exam be changed to facilitate progress in the program?What
is the goal of the written preliminary exam? Does the current exam meet
these goals? How can it be changed to better align the exam with the
FacultyWhy do faculty want to be part of graduate program in neuroscience?What criteria should be used to confer an appointment on the graduate faculty in neuroscience? How can common expectations in education in neuroscience be instilled among a large faculty from diverse disciplines?
Innovation: Student Board
This snapshot describes an innovation in the doctoral program,
initiated by a student after attending the 2004 summer convening.
Innovation: Oral Preliminary Exam
This snapshot describes changes in the process of the oral preliminary
exam in response to discussions stimulated by interactions around the
Oral preliminary exam (see oral prelim innovation snapshot)
of the structure of the oral preliminary exam occurred in 2004.
Proposed changes in the exam were approved in the summer of 2004 and
will be implemented with students who matriculated in July of 2003.
Written prelimary exam
of the purpose and structure of the written preliminary exam began in
the fall of 2004. The goal is to present a proopsal to the steering
committee in January of 2005 for implementation in July of 2005.
survey of faculty roles and participation in the graduate program was
conducted in the summer of 2004. Results of the survey contributed to
revision of the standards and process for making appointments and
reappointments to the faculty. The proposed revisions will be presented
to the steering committee in January of 2005.
A draft of a faculty handbook will be completed for discussion by the steering committee in January, 2005.