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Welcome to the Neuroscience Graduate Program

BarnstableColinWelcome, and thank you for your interest in the Penn State University interdepartmental Neuroscience Graduate Program.  I hope you take the time to look through these pages and gain an appreciation of the many opportunities available to our students.

We provide a rigorous curriculum that combines broad survey core courses in the first semester with detailed courses on cell, molecular and systems neuroscience, and neuroanatomy.  As well as didactic lectures, these courses emphasize critical thinking and students are expected to read original papers and to present their concepts and methods to the class.  Details of these courses can be found on the Program Overview page.

In addition to our subject courses we offer a range of ancillary courses that provide each student with the skills to attain leadership positions in their later careers.  Among these is a professional development course that helps students create an individual development plan that is updated throughout their student career.

Although the focus of these pages is on our academic program, it is important to point out that we live in a safe, small-town environment that is also within easy reach of major cities including Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC.  From the Amish farmlands to our South, the rolling hills and forests to the West, and the rivers and lakes throughout the region, Central Pennsylvania provides a landscape of great natural beauty that allows a wide variety of outdoor activities or even gentle contemplation.  More details of our area can be found in the Living and Studying in Hershey section.

The PSU Neuroscience Program offers access to the laboratories of over 35 faculty members from 10 basic science and clinical departments throughout the College of Medicine.  Basic science studies being carried out by these faculty members range from detailed molecular studies of neural genes, through electrophysiological properties of specific neuronal cells and circuits to studies of normal and addictive behaviors.  Many of our Program faculty are also involved in clinical and basic studies of a wide variety of neurological diseases and in translational studies aimed at developing novel diagnostics and therapies.  Please browse through our Program Faculty listing under the Faculty and Research tab above.  Clicking on any faculty members name will take you to their profile page with more details about their research program and publications.

Research and Education at Penn State Hershey are enjoying a dramatic expansion of infrastructure and personnel.  New core resources in imaging and genomics have made state of the art equipment available to everyone in the College.  The dedication of our new Cancer Institute in 2009 and our Children’s Hospital in 2013 have substantially increased our clinical programs and their associated research.  Recruitment for new neuroscience faculty members is well advanced and will further expand the opportunities for incoming graduate students.

Understanding how the nervous system is assembled, how it works normally and what goes wrong in the wide array of neurological and psychiatric diseases remains one of the greatest challenges in biomedical sciences.  Recent advances have placed an impressive array of new tools for us to investigate the nervous system from the molecular to the systems level.  Now is the perfect time to consider entering the field of neuroscience and playing a full role in advancing this exciting field.


Please explore our website and learn more about our graduate program.  If you have any questions or need any additional information please contact me, or any of the program staff listed under the Contact Us tab.




Colin J. Barnstable, D.Phil.

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