Guarini School Launches Integrative Neuroscience Program

When the plan was developed to design a single-standing School of Graduate and Advanced Studies at Dartmouth, a vision of administrative flexibility was one of the driving forces.

"We wanted a School that would enable programs to move nimbly to address the rapidly changing needs of the research landscape," explains Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies Dean F. Jon Kull. "Since then, our vision has been acknowledged though a significant donation by Hon. Frank J. Guarini. We have been able to expand the Innovation PhD, and now, create two new research programs – Cancer Biology, which moved under the Molecular and Cellular Biology program umbrella, and the Integrative Neuroscience at Dartmouth (IND) program, which we are thrilled to launch today."

The IND program continues the spirit of translational research, which was a hallmark of the former Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine (PEMM). "We felt like Dartmouth needed a new program that would allow us to keep the highly translational nature of PEMM but focusing on Neuroscience only," says IND Co-Director Francesca Gilli. "As such, the IND program is designed to provide students with the knowledge and tools that they will need to embark on careers as well-rounded neuroscientists, with an integrated preparation in basic, clinical, and translational neurosciences."

With labs from the departments of Biology, Biochemistry, Psychological & Brain Sciences, Neurology, Psychiatry, Surgery, Epidemiology and Molecular & Systems Biology, the program fosters cross-lab interactions and mentoring at many intersections. The faculty make themselves available to the graduate researchers and the program strives "to create a non-hierarchical training environment to answer the big questions in neuroscience."

Rather than mixing rotations with classes throughout their first year – a typical feature of other PhD programs – students begin their first term as a cohort and work together through a rigorous curriculum created to showcase the breadth and depth of techniques to understand the brain. According to IND's other co-director, Michael Hoppa, this was an important change as it maintains currency with the breadth of research questions developing in the field. Students have access to innumerable cutting-edge instruments housed in IND labs and core-facilities.

"These powerful approaches now allow research groups inside and outside Dartmouth to more easily collaborate and tackle larger questions: How do the billions of individual components of the brain work together to generate behavior? How do molecular changes in the nervous system lead to disease? What makes the human brain unique?" explains Hoppa. "This more collaborative research environment demands a more immersive neuroscience training program that includes more hands-on training and a wider base of neuroscience knowledge. Thus, the faculty at Dartmouth were excited to form this Integrative Neuroscience PhD program to meet this demand and foster more collaborative training and mentoring of future leaders in neuroscience."

The program structure aims to develop a cohort of next-generation leaders in their respective fields, and one that reflects the diversity of the world in which they will be working and the range of research questions they will be tackling. By developing these supportive and meaningful connections throughout the graduate years, these relationships will nourish the personal and professional trajectories of the group long after the PhD.

Drs. Gilli and Hoppa will be working closely with Guarini assistant dean for diversity, recruitment, and communications, Jane Seibel, to develop a recruitment calendar and will be attending the virtual graduate fair hosted through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on July 21, from 3-6pm. Learn more about the event, and others forthcoming, by visiting the IND website HERE. Prospective and current students can stay up to date with the program by following them on Twitter @DartmouthNeuro.