Our interdisciplinary program attracts students with a wide variety of backgrounds. While this is a major asset for our program, it means that students enter the first year core courses with different levels of proficiency in the many areas of neuroscience. To address these differences in background knowledge, and in particular differences in methodological knowledge, first year students participate in a week-long bootcamp.
Started in 2012, the purpose of bootcamp is to engage incoming Ph.D. students to the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience and Department of Pharmacology in an intensive didactic and hands-on methods based experience as a primer for first year coursework. A second goal of bootcamp is to encourage incoming students from the two programs to interact and get to know one another, as well as get to know faculty, senior graduate students and post-docs at Georgetown.
Through five day-long sessions, incoming students are introduced to key modern methods in neuropharmacology. Topics covered include molecular biology, neurophysiology, receptor pharmacology, neuroanatomy, behavioral pharmacology, and human cognitive testing and neuroimaging.
In each session, students participate in background lectures and hands-on laboratory exercises (e.g., restriction mapping, patch-clamp recording from acute slices and neuronal cultures, comparative neuroanatomy through vertebrate brain dissection). Sessions also include intensive data analysis (e.g., post-processing and analysis of fMRI data acquired during the bootcamp session) and a journal-club style discussion of a recent paper relevant to the material covered during that session.
This year, bootcamp has been integrated with Summer Course, and will take place at the end of the summer.