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Department of Neuroscience

Welcome to the Department of Neuroscience

We are a basic science research enterprise whose 22 faculty and 120 employees are dedicated to discovering how the brain works. The department is devoted to understanding how the brain generates thoughts, personality and behavior, and how brain pathologies create neurological and psychiatric diseases. To this end, we employ a host of cutting-edge electrophysiological, endoscopic, biochemical, genetic and behavioral approaches. We use the latest technologies for molecular and brain circuit imaging, cell- and circuit-selective optical and chemogenetic brain stimulation, and innovative molecular-genetic tools to study brain function across all stages of life.

In our laboratories, exploration of brain mechanisms ranges from discovering how protein ensembles are regulated to identifying how brain circuits regulate human cognition and thought processing. We employ cellular and animal models of disease and have a strong human imaging research team that translates our basic discoveries of how brain circuits regulate behavior into humans. Our research efforts resulted in $14 million in NIH awards in fiscal year 2017, making us the 8th-ranked Neuroscience department in the nation in terms of funding, and the 2nd-ranked department in the College of Medicine at MUSC. In particular, the department has strong research programs in addiction neurobiology, neurodegeneration, neurodevelopment, and in vivo brain imaging, recording and stimulation technologies.

This level of research activity helps maintain a vibrant educational program. We have robust Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. training programs in Neuroscience and a strong postdoctoral training program, constituting 30 graduate students and 40 postdoctoral fellows. Our trainees are funded through a combination of stipends from the College of Graduate Studies, individual NIH and other awards, and NIH institutional T32 training grants. Graduate training includes a core neuroscience curriculum and electives on a wide range of topics in neuroscience. In addition, we have a robust departmental seminar series with invited speakers from leading institutions across the nation.

Finally, our department is located in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina - a historic town dominated by the education industry with four colleges, including MUSC, creating a strong intellectual tradition and creative environment. Charleston is often ranked as the #1 city to visit in the USA, and is widely known as an art and food community with numerous festivals appealing to both residents and tourists. The city is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and national wildlife refuges to the north and south, creating an outdoor culture that ranges from al fresco dining to kayaking.

I hope you enjoy learning about our department and why it's an exciting place to work and learn. Please feel free to reach out to us if you are a prospective student, postdoc or collaborator, or for general questions.

Professor and Chair - Christopher Cowan, Ph.D.
Administrative Coordinator, Executive Assist. to Chair - Brandon Harris-Smith
Professor and Director, Neuroscience Institute - Jacqueline McGinty, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Director, Graduate Program - Brett Froeliger, Ph.D.