The new International Max Planck Research School for Synapses and Circuits (IMPRS-SC) graduate program, a partnership between Max Planck Florida and Florida Atlantic University, held a three-day advanced technical course for Ph.D. students to learn electrophysiology, a technique to record the electrical activity of neurons. The course consisted of morning lectures to discuss theoretical concepts and afternoon hands-on guided experimental work. Led by experts in the field, including IMPRS faculty Drs. Bolton, Godenschwege, Inagaki, Murphey, Varela, Wang, and Yasuda as well as international leaders, students gained both practical experience and technical knowledge of electrophysiology while expanding their scientific networks.
As Dr. Carmen Varela, an IMPRS-SC faculty mentor and course instructor, described, “These workshops are unique in intertwining theory and practice. For three days, we listened to world experts introduce theoretical materials and worked hands-on with people that use these methods every day in their research. It was just a fantastic learning experience.”
Students were treated to several special lectures throughout the course, including an interactive session with Dr. Tim Harris. Dr. Harris is a Senior Fellow at HHMI Janelia Research Campus and the leading scientist behind the development of Neuropixels. This transformative technology lets scientists record the activity of hundreds of neurons simultaneously. In the afternoon, students worked with IMPRS faculty, who regularly use this approach in the lab, to see and analyze data collected through this technique.
At the end of the week, Nobel Laureate, Dr. Erwin Neher, gave a keynote lecture and interacted with students throughout the day. IMPRS-SC student Goksu Oz described her interaction with him. “I asked him questions about my research. I would never, ever have imagined that the Nobel laureate who invented the technique of patch clamp and identified single channels was going to be helping me with my project, recommending papers and techniques to try.”
In addition to the knowledge gained through the course, students enjoyed interacting with one another and the faculty, strengthening their scientific networks. As IMPRS-SC is part of the more extensive Max Planck Society community, lectures were live-streamed to other neuroscience-focused IMPRS programs worldwide. In the future, IMPRS-SC students will have the opportunity to participate in short courses hosted by other IMPRS programs either virtually or through travel grants sponsored by the graduate program.
The IMPRS-SC Ph.D. program is now accepting applications for admissions. For more information about the program visit the IMPRS-SC website.