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Master - Program „Molecular Biosciences“ Major Neuroscience Curricular structure for 2012 - 2014
Master - Program „Molecular Biosciences“ Major Neuroscience Curricular structure for 2012 - 2014

Master - Program „Molecular Biosciences“

Major Neuroscience

Curricular structure for 2012 - 2014

Master - Program „Molecular Biosciences“ Major Neuroscience Curricular structure for 2012 - 2014


Neuroscience Concepts Modern neuroscience integrates research approaches from the fields of molecular biology,


Modern neuroscience integrates research approaches from the fields of molecular biology, physiology and psychology to elucidate the functions of neuronal systems. Working in neuroscience is based on an assumption of systems biology: the notion that the cognitive performance of the brain can be understood if we achieve an appropriate understanding of the interactions between individual sub-systems, neuronal networks with their interconnected neurons. Consequently, scientists work at different levels of neuronal connectivity: They analyze the details of synaptic signal transmission between two neurons, examine the pattern of connectivity in neuronal networks, and explore the control of entire networks by higher- order centres of the brain. The goal of this research is a fundamental insight into the way how the complex performance of the brain - perception, memory, association, and creativity - emerges from network activity.


The broad spectrum of neuroscience research is based on a wide range of experimental methods. Neurons are examined with the techniques of molecular cell biology, using methods from molecular biology, biochemistry, electrophysiology, microscopy, and genetic engineering. The formation and reorganization of neuronal networks is being studied in neuronal cell cultures as well as directly in the brain. Network activity can be visualized electrically or by imaging methods in the working brain or in brain preparations, and neuronal activity can be correlated with cognitive performance. Using mathematical models can help scientists to represent neuronal networks on the computer and to understand how they work. Neuroscience research is interdisciplinary in every aspect.

MSc Molecular Biosciences / Major Neuroscience

This MSc program was designed by scientists from the Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences in Heidelberg for students with intense interest in neurobiology. With its strong emphasis on the experimental aspects, this program aims to give you the best possible start into a neuroscience career.


We expect you to have a good basic knowledge in molecular cell biology (BSc level) and a pronounced interest in neurobiology. During the 1 st semester of the MSc program, the most important topics in the fields of cell biology, molecular biology, and biochemistry will be recapitulated in a joint lecture for all MSc participants. Here you will find out in which areas you may have to do additional reading before starting the theoretical part of your Major program “Neuroscience” in the 2 nd semester.


Time table for the Master program „Molecular Biosciences“

Jul 2012



March-July: Admission procedure for MSc "Molecular Biosciences"






Frontiers of Biosciences 1


Frontiers of Biosciences 2



5 weeks lecture + tutorials

15 CP

5 weeks lecture + tutorials

15 CP


IZN Lab Rotation Program + seminar


IZN Lab Rotation Program + seminar




Mar 2013




Focus Bioscience 1


Focus Bioscience 2


5 weeks lecture + tutorials

15 CP

5 weeks lecture + tutorials

15 CP


„Introduction to neuroscience“


“Molecules, neurons, networks, behaviour”


IZN Lab Rotation Program + seminar


IZN Lab Rotation Program + seminar






15 CP

Working in Biosciences

15 CP


IZN Lab Rotation Program


6 weeks practicals in any lab



or participation in the student exchange



program “Life Science for Health”


or participation in the student exchange program “Life Science for Health”


Jan 2014






Master thesis in an IZN neuroscience lab

30 CP









1. Jan

2. Jun

3. Oct

4. Apr

common program for all MSc students

teaching program of the major „Neuroscience“

free choice among all labs in the MSc program

IZN Lab Rotation Program

18 weeks of neuroscience lab practice organized individually

CP: ECTS credit poits LSH program /*biomedical student exchange program „Life Science for Health“ between the Faculty of Biosciences, Heidelberg University, the Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands, and the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

Important! The time schedule for this program is our suggestion for a 4- semester MSc course. If you wish, you can save time by doing more practical weeks in the 1 st and 2 nd semester. In total, you need 18 weeks in the "IZN Lab rotation program" plus 6 weeks practicals in any lab of your choice. You can easily start the project for your Master thesis already in September following the 2 nd semester. In this way, you can complete the MSc program within three semesters.


The Major-Program Neuroscience

How do you manage an optimal start of your neuroscience career?

How do you best prepare to join a graduate program in neuroscience?

Which concepts and methods in neuroscience are important for the future?

These questions have guided us in planning the Major program, and we have designed the courses and lectures accordingly. The one-year lecture program is intensive and will bring you up-to-date in current concepts in the neurosciences. The comprehensive IZN lab rotation program gives you the chance to understand cutting-edge technologies and to appreciate the diversity of experimental neurosciences.

The 1 st semester (winter semester 2012/2013) Modules: Frontiers in Biosciences I + II

The modules „Frontiers in Biosciences“ consist of a lecture cycle for all MSc students. The following topics will be taught:

Macromolecular complexes

Dynamics of cell architecture

Cell-cell communication

Systems biology

Alteration of networks by infectious pathogens

Evolution and diversity

The goal of this lecture cycle is to ensure that MSc students in all Majors have the knowledge needed for the specific Major programs. At the same time, the lectures present the main topics of biological research at Heidelberg University. All lectures (mostly 3 per week) are accompanied by tutorials (2 per week). The tutorials will be held in smaller groups and will be used to focus on each week´s lectures. After the lectures and tutorials (08:15 - 09.45 am), you are free to plan the rest of the day. You may wish to recapitulate the lecture material, or to prepare for the written examination that takes place at the end of each first-semester module. You will also start your participation in the "IZN Lab Rotation Program" where you can choose from a variety of lab practicals. The list of available lab practicals will be published at the beginning of each semester on the IZN website ( under the menue item "Teaching". Most students take a total of 6 - 8 weeks lab rotations within the first semester. A seminar accompanies the lab rotation program for the 1 st and 2 nd semester. The seminar is once a week at 06:15 - 07.45 pm. Here students report about their experience in the various lab practicals. In this way, each student learns about the work going on in the many IZN labs and will find it easier to make an informed choice from the lab-rotation program. Two short additional introductory courses are offered in the first semester:

Intoduction to neuronal networks

Introduction to neuroanatomy

(1 week, 10 am - 4 pm) (4 evening lectures plus one demo-preparation)

You conclude the 1 st semester with grades in “Frontiers in Bioscience I and II” (15 credits points each).


The 2 nd semester (summer semester 2013) Focus Bioscience I+II

In the 2 nd semester you will study two neuroscience modules consisting of the IZN summer lecture, the IZN lab rotation program and a seminar:

Focus Bioscience I:

Focus Bioscience II:

Introduction to neuroscience Molecules, neurons, networks, behaviour

In each module you take a 5-week lecture, accompanied by tutorials. This lecture is only for the Neuroscience major students.

Focus Bioscience I

In this module, you will acquire a firm background in modern neuroscience. The teaching format resembles that of a seminar: One or two students prepare a textbook chapter for each lecture and present the material. Students and lecturers then together discuss the topic in- depth so as to ensure proper understanding of the neuroscience basics.

Introduction to Neuroscience (a primer for neuroscience majors)

Text books include

Bear, Connors, Paradiso (2007) Neuroscience - Exploring the Brain; Lippincott

Kandel, Schwartz, Jessell (2000) Principles in Neuroscience; McGraw Hill

Purves, Augustine, et al. (2007) Neuroscience; Palgrave Macmillan

We will work through the Bear, Connors, Paradiso cover-to-cover and will supplement this program with chapters from the other books.

Focus Bioscience II Molecules, Neurons, Networks, Behaviour This module consists of a series of lectures ("IZN summer lecture") on neuroscience topics which are particularly well represented in the Heidelberg research community:

Growth, targeting and maintenance of neurons

Synaptic transmission and communication

Neuronal networks and computation

Network function and plasticity

Neuropathy and neurodegenerative diseases


This lecture will help you to find out more about current research activities in the IZN research groups and to plan ahead towards your Master thesis and possible PhD projects. To conclude this module, you will submit a written essay on one of the lecture topics.

In parallel to the IZN Summer Lecture s you will take lab courses of various durations. Again, you can choose among a range of offers specified in the IZN-lab rotation program.

For planning your second semester, please refer to the up-to-date information on the IZN website (

IZN summer lecture IZN lab-rotation program


The 3 rd semester (winter semester 2013/2014)

Biolab and Working in Biosciences

Biolab is a lab rotation module. It usually comprises 6 - 8 weeks of lab work in the IZN Lab Rotation Program.

The module Working in Bioscience can also be taken as 6-weeks lab rotation with an IZN investigator. You can, however, also take this module in any lab of any major in the MSc program “Molecular Biosciences”. A particularly interesting version is to take this module in our student exchange program LSH (“Life Science for Health”). This allows you to participate in a biomedical course at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, or at the Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden, Netherlands. Please check our faculty web page for details about this program:

The 3 rd semester is generally a good time to organize lab internships outside Heidelberg. We will assist you in finding suitable labs, and we will honour all internships which are consistent with our syllabus in scientific topic, quality, and duration.

Thus, you will spend the 3 rd semester mainly in the lab, learning neuroscience methods and discussing experimental approaches to scientific problems. You conclude the 3 rd semester with module grades in Biolab und Working in Bioscience (15 credits points each).

You have completed the IZN Lab Rotation Program with a total of 18 weeks + 6 weeks in the Working in Bioscience module.

The 4 th semester (summer semester 2014)

Master thesis

During the 3 rd semester you should decide in which of the laboratories you would like to work on your master project. It is best to discuss this question with the IZN lecturers and to set the topic and the time schedule for your project well in advance. For your Master project you will work on a neuroscience project for 6 months in the lab of one of the IZN investigators who will supervise and support your project. After finishing the lab work, you write a master thesis and, to conclude the MSc program, you report about your work in a disputation with two examiners.

If you have chosen to complete the 24 weeks of your lab-rotation program in less than 3 semesters, you can start your master project earlier. If you wish to be fast, you start your master project in late summer of 2013, finish your master thesis early in 2014, and join a graduate program in spring 2014. On the other hand, many students wish to do more than the required 24 weeks lab rotation required. Others wish to extend an overseas internship or an industrial internship and start their master thesis later. It is your choice. We will support you.

After completing the six modules of the program you will be awarded the degree

Master of Science „Molecular Biosciences“, Major Neuroscience


The Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences (IZN) www.izn.uni-heidelberg.d e Networking is not only the operative word

The Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences (IZN)

Networking is not only the operative word for brain function. It is also the keyword for progress in modern neuroscience research. Cell biologists and physicians, specialists for network theory and for high-resolution microscopy, neurophysiologists and biophysicists - neuroscientists are often especially successful when they challenge scientific problems by combining methods of different research fields. The IZN creates a forum for such collaboration, for the intensive exchange on topics of neurobiology, and - in the Master program “Molecular Biosciences” and in various graduate schools - for the efficient education of young scientists.

Over 50 research groups in the Heidelberg area are members of the IZN. Their cooperation brings together concepts and methods from

the Faculty of Biosciences

the Faculty of Medicine

the Max-Planck Institute for Medical Research

the Central Institute for Mental Health

the European Molecular Biology Laboratory

the German Cancer Research Center

all located in or near Heidelberg. Thus, the IZN forum is quite large; for students it offers multiple opportunities to work in neuroscience research groups as well as to participate in frequent seminars, symposia and methods courses.

For the Neuroscience students in the MSc program „Molecular Biosciences“, perhaps the most important role of the IZN is to provide access to scientists from all areas of neuroscience research. Cell biologists, physicians, brain anatomists, theoreticians, neuroimaging experts, neuropharmacologists - contact with these scientists is the best introduction to neuroscience.


The lecturers

Individual websites and contact data via

Research IZN Investigators

Prof. Dr. Hilmar Bading, Dr. Peter Bengtson Prof. Dr. Armin Blesch Dr. Johann Bollmann Dr. Francesca Ciccolini Prof. Dr. Andreas Draguhn Dr. Daniel Durstewitz Prof. Dr. Stephan Frings Prof. Dr. Rohini Kuner Prof. Dr. Thomas Kuner Dr. Daniela Mauceri Dr. Frank Möhrlen Prof. Dr. Ulrike Müller Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Pollerberg Dr. Anne Régnier-Vigouroux Prof. Dr. Andreas Schäfer Prof. Dr. Christoph Schuster Prof. Dr. Rainer Spanagel Dr. Rolf Sprengel Prof. Dr. Rolf-Detlef Treede


IZN MSc Neuroscience Program Prof. Stephan Frings, Coordinator Phone.: (+49) 6221 - 54 5661 Fax.: (+49) 6221 - 54 6162 E-mail:


(+49) 6221 - 54 6162 E-mail: 8 Nuclear calcium signaling Neuronal calcium signaling

Nuclear calcium signaling Neuronal calcium signaling Neuroregeneration Neural circuits and behaviour Neuronal stem cells Hippocampal networks Computational neuroscience Sensory physiology Pain physiology and pathology Synaptic transmission in sensory systems Synaptic transmission Sensory signal transduction Alzheimer´s disease Axon guidance and orientation Glia and neuroinflammation Sensory information processing in the brain Neuronal plasticity / learning Psychopharmacology, addiction research Molecular basis of neuronal plasticity Pain physiology and pathology