The central nervous system is a unique organ in the human body. It is the physical generator of our thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and actions. An understanding of how the nervous system functions is closely bound to the questions that have preoccupied philosophers for all of human history. The nervous system is the only system of the body commonly represented by an undergraduate major, and many medical students come to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine especially interested in Neurology, Psychiatry, and Neurosurgery. These, and closely allied specialties, including neuroradiology, neuropathology, ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology, anesthesiology, and rehabilitation medicine, constitute the clinical neurosciences.
The Clinical Neuroscience Track (CNST) was established at Penn in 1993 to nurture interest and maintain students' intellectual involvement in the neurosciences throughout medical school. Administered under the auspices of the Mahoney Institute of Neurological Sciences, an interdisciplinary neuroscience institute on the Penn campus, the goal of the CNST is to train clinical neuroscience specialists who will participate at the forefront of clinical and academic practice, and disease oriented research. The program combines curricular enrichment in the neurosciences, mentoring, special extracurricular activities and research opportunities within the four-year medical school structure.
Admission into the Program
The CNST is open to all students who have been accepted to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and who have a strong interest in pursuing a career in the clinical neurosciences. Many students have had previous neuroscience experience but this is not a prerequisite to admission.
Although the CNST was designed for four-year medical students, combined degree students are also welcomed. By participating in the CNST, these students gain respect for the complexities of clinical research and appreciation for its importance.
Interested students should contact Linda Ramos at 215-573-4251 or firstname.lastname@example.org
STRUCTURE OF THE CLINICAL NEUROSCIENCE TRACK
The CNST consists of several components:
- Weekly Seminar Series
Careers in Neuroscience
Variety of Neuroscience Presentations
- Mentoring Program
- Special Academic and Social Events
- Expanded Clinical Neuroscience Curriculum
- Clinical Neuroscience Research Opportunities
Weekly Seminar Series
During the Fall and Spring semesters, students attend weekly seminars. Lunch is served and the atmosphere is informal. Seminars are in a variety of formats.
At Clinical Conferences, faculty lead discussions about fascinating clinical cases to illustrate important, complex, and integrative aspects of brain function in health and disease.
For Journal Club, CNST students choose one or two articles on a topic or controversy in the recent research literature and lead the discussion with expert faculty present to lend critical perspective. Through this, students gain experience in critical review and presentation.
At the Careers in Neuroscience seminars, faculty and outside physicians discuss the academic, training and life choices they have made in their careers and share what excites them in their current activities.
In the Variety of Neuroscience Presentations, CNST students may have tours of the neuroscience facilities at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (e.g., the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, the Interventional Neuroradiology suite, or the Sleep Center), hear presentations on hot research advances by Penn faculty, or participate in Neuropathology's "brain cutting" in the autopsy suite.
Click here for the current SEMINAR SCHEDULE
During their first year, CNST students are provided with a list of clinical faculty who have agreed to serve as mentors and a succinct description of their clinical, research or academic interests. Each student is encouraged to select a mentor. Mentors serve as career advisors and guides to the curricular and other intellectual resources available at Penn that could assist students in reaching their career goals. As interests develop during medical school, students have the option of choosing a new mentor.
Special Academic and Social Events
Students are encouraged to develop an esprit de corps by attendance at seminars, special lectures and social get-togethers. They are also invited to the special lectures, dinners and research colloquia of the Mahoney Institute of Neurological Sciences. Examples include the Louis B. Flexner Lecture and Dinner, the Frank Elliott Lecture in Cognitive Neuroscience and the Institute of Neurological Sciences Annual Retreat. In this way, CNST students are encouraged to have intellectual exchanges with basic and clinical neuroscientists and with neuroscience graduate students.
Expanded Clinical Neuroscience Curriculum
The new medical school curriculum incorporates the integrated approach to teaching the clinical neurosciences pioneered by the CNST. A 12-week block is devoted to Psychiatry, Neurology and the specialties of Ophthalmology, Otorhinolaryngology and Orthopaedic Surgery, all of which have strong neuroscience aspects. An integrated lecture series encourages students to view the brain as a unit rather than subdividing its functions artificially among clinical specialties.
CNST students may also include four weeks of Neurosurgery during their 12-week Surgery block. During the final 18 months of medical school, CNST students are offered a special course consisting of two to four rotations on clinical neuroscience subspecialty rotations. These are oriented largely around outpatient clinics. Available rotations include Neuro-Ophthalmology, Mood Disorders, Substance Abuse, Epilepsy and many others. Each rotation lasts two to three weeks and will be selected by the students. The Divisions of Neuroradiology and Neuropathology have organized a special course, "Integrative Neuroradiology and Neuropathology," which provides select CNST students the opportunity to view the clinical neurosciences from a unique anatomical perspective.
Clinical Neuroscience Research Opportunities
CNST students may participate in neuroscience research throughout their medical school career. The greatest research opportunities occur in the summer between the first and second years of medical school and in the 12- to 24-week period of "Scholarly Pursuit" during the final 18 months of the medical school curriculum. The CNST serves as a clearing house for the enormous wealth of research opportunities at Penn by providing CNST students with information on faculty research programs, as well as funding sources for stipend support. CNST mentors also can provide guidance for CNST students to participate in clinical shadowing experiences starting in the first year.
Application Announcement/Form for Summer Research
For general inquiries and information, please contact Jane Hoshi.