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NGG 587 Neurobiology of Disease

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Dysfunction of the human brain can produce a wide variety of neurological and psychiatric illnesses. Over the past decades, neuroscientists have begun to unravel the basic underlying mechanisms of a number of important diseases of the nervous system, at the cellular, molecular and genetic levels. None of these disorders are completely understood, and, perhaps more importantly, none are yet susceptible to either total prevention or cure, so these conditions remain among the most important health problems of our society. This course is designed to familiarize neuroscientists with basic information about a number of important neurological and psychiatric diseases, focusing on a relatively brief clinical description of the condition and a more in depth discussion of what is currently understood about the basic pathobiology of the disorder.

The course is divided into two parts: On Tuesday afternoons and some Thursdays there will be a formal didactic teaching session focusing on specific diseases of the nervous system.  Each lecture will be devoted to a discussion of the disease in question, beginning with a brief clinical description, followed by a detailed discussion of the underlying disease mechanisms.  Each lecture will finish with a brief discussion of current therapeutic options and future research directions.

Some Thursday classes will be presented by a faculty member presenting a research seminar or chalk talk describing the research she or he is conducting in that particular disease. Papers will be provided before the seminar so the students will be familiar with the research. It is expected that having a research seminar given after the introductory lecture will allow the students to become familiar in depth with at least one approach to each disease.   

Textbook: There is no single text suitable for the course. Readings will be assigned for each class and more in depth bibliographies will be developed for each topic.

Course Director: Marc Dichter: dichter@mail.med.upenn.edu. Phone: 215 898-3130