New MS in Integrative Neuroscience to Focus on Research, Science Policy

Posted in GUMC Stories

March 10, 2017 - This fall, a new master’s degree program at Georgetown will give students the opportunity to pursue advanced study in neuroscience while gaining experience in research or science policy. Applications are currently being accepted for the Master of Science in Integrative Neuroscience, a one-year, full-time program that will offer concentrations in science policy and laboratory research.

“We think there’s a need, first of all, for educating the public and educating our political body about science, so we are addressing these points with our science policy track,” said Kathy Maguire-Zeiss, PhD, program director and associate professor of neuroscience. “We were also aware of the growing need for applicants to PhD programs to gain more research experience prior to pursuing a PhD.”

Targeting Traditional and Nontraditional Students

The program will appeal to both traditional and nontraditional students. “We’re looking for people who are excited, who want to learn,” Maguire-Zeiss said. “We’re hoping to enroll a diverse class with a variety of experiences and perspectives to bring to the subject matter.”

Applicants may include recent graduates seeking neuroscience research experience and neuroscience enthusiasts who attended universities that did not offer undergraduate degrees in the field. “There are very few master’s programs in neuroscience and our program seeks to fill that void,” said Maguire-Zeiss.  

Additionally, applicants may include science policy wonks who want to learn more about neuroscience while taking advantage of internship opportunities only available in DC. “We’ve noticed an increase in the number of students interested in doing science policy from a neuroscience background,” Maguire-Zeiss said.

Small Class Sizes and An “Outstanding Faculty”

Regardless of their specific interests, students in the inaugural MS in Integrative Neuroscience class will have a lot of faculty interaction because of the small class sizes. “In the classroom, it’s really a split between typical classroom lectures and a lot of discussion, which is why we need small classes,” Maguire-Zeiss said.

Like Maguire-Zeiss, many members of the faculty in Georgetown’s department of neuroscience have a passion for education and teaching. The program will allow such faculty members to share their passion with a new group of students.   

“We have a lot of expertise in neuroscience and we have a lot of buy-in from our faculty,” Maguire-Zeiss said. “I think what makes our program stand out is that we have outstanding faculty here at Georgetown.”

Preparing Students to “Move the Discipline Forward”

Required classes in the program include Basic Neuroscience I and II, Experimental Approaches and Techniques, Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration, Therapeutic Approaches to Neurologic Disease, and Imaging in Neuroscience.

Students are also required to participate in a journal club to ensure that they know how to understand, present and discuss research articles. “Whether you do hands-on research or not, understanding the primary literature is critical,” Maguire-Zeiss said. “In order for science to move forward, we also have to be really good communicators.”

Electives include Brain and Language, One Health: US Policy for a Global Challenge, Brain Networks and Cognition, Environmental Health and Policy, Topics in Neuroinflammation, Neuroscience of Substance Abuse and From Neurons to Behavior: Principles of Computational Cognitive Neuroscience.

“I see it as a program that aligns with the mission of Georgetown in that we’re trying to educate all of these students so that they can be stewards of the discipline and move the discipline forward,” Maguire-Zeiss said. “There are big questions and it’s fun to be part of the team that answers those questions. I want our students to feel like they’re part of the solution.”

The application deadline for the MS in Integrative Neuroscience is May 15. For more information about the program, please email program coordinator Jensue Ferrell.

Kat Zambon
GUMC Communications