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Concept Clearance: February 2021

Concept Title:  Short Courses for Skills Development in Neuroscience Topics and Techniques

Program Lead/Presenter: Neeraj Agarwal, Ph.D.
Council Date: February 12, 2021

Goal:  The over-arching goal of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative is to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain by accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies.  This concept would support short courses to facilitate the development of a sophisticated cadre of investigators with the requisite knowledge and skills in neuroscience related techniques and topics relevant to the BRAIN initiative goal.

Rational: There is a growing need for researchers to develop and use new tools and methods with the goal of expanding our insight about how the nervous system functions in health and disease. To address this need, this BRAIN concept has been designed to promote competencies and build expertise in computational and quantitative neuroscience, functional imaging, cell and circuit specific tools to manipulate brain activity, data science, neuroethics, electrophysiology, and neuroscience techniques across the research workforce. A major goal of the BRAIN Initiative is to attract new investigators to neuroscience from quantitative disciplines such as computer science, mathematics, physics, statistics, materials science, and engineering.  Not only do educational short courses provide an effective approach to bring the scientific community up to a high level of understanding and productivity in a short period of time, but they also provide an excellent opportunity for cross-training of participants and facilitating potential collaborations among individuals from diverse scientific backgrounds. 

Objectives and Scope: Short course programs are expected to include both didactics and in-person/hands-on experiences. They are intended for participants who are graduate students, medical students, postdoctoral scholars, medical residents, and/or early-career faculty and especially individuals from diverse backgrounds.  

Relevant course topics include but are not limited to:

  • Computational analysis of omics, imaging, electrophysiology or other multi-modal data generated by BRAIN Initiative projects
  • Interdisciplinary research training in computational neuroscience
  • Courses that explicitly link BRAIN Initiative researchers with opportunities that add content focused on neuroethics to existing scientific courses
  • Methods for data access, query, download, and analysis through BRAIN Initiative data archives 
  • Applications of cell and circuit-specific tools to monitor and manipulate brain activity (e.g., transynaptic tracing, non-invasive gene delivery, cell-specific pharmacology, single cell analysis techniques, correlating activity with gene expression)
  • Training on methodology for functional imaging, chronic recordings, or optogenetics
  • Neuroscience training for engineers, physicists, and computer scientists
  • Effective strategies to enhance the workforce diversity

Last updated: February 18, 2022