Ion Channels in Synaptic and Neural Circuit Physiology
June 8 - 28, 2016
Application Deadline: March 15, 2016


Tiago Branco, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Ian Duguid, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Christoph Schmidt-Hieber, University College London, UK

See the roll of honor - who's taken the course in the past

Ion channels are the fundamental building blocks of excitability in the nervous system. The primary goal of this course is to demonstrate, through lectures and laboratory work, the different biophysical properties of ion channels that enable neurons to perform unique physiological functions in a variety of neural systems.

Areas of particular interest include (1) voltage- and ligand-gated ion channels at central and peripheral synapses, (2) synaptic integration and plasticity, (3) neural circuit function in vitro and in vivo and (4) optogenetic strategies for circuit manipulation. A typical day consists of morning lectures followed by hands-on laboratory practical sessions in the afternoon and evening with guest lecturers available to give one-on-one practical advice.
The laboratory component of the course introduces students to state-of-the-art electrophysiological approaches for the study of ion channels in their native environments. The course provides students with hands-on experience in using patch-clamp electrophysiology to examine single channel activity in cultured cells, ion channel biophysics in acutely dissociated neurons and synaptic integration, plasticity and circuit dynamics in in vitro slice and in vivo preparations.  Different recording configurations will be used (e.g. cell-attached, whole-cell dendritic and somatic patch, voltage- and current-clamp configurations) and the advantages and limitations of each method will be discussed in relation to specific scientific questions. The course will also provide practical experience in cellular and circuit manipulation techniques (i.e. pharmacological, electrophysiological and optogenetic) both in vitro and in vivo.

Admissions priority will be given to students and postdocs that can show a demonstrated interest and specific plans to apply these techniques to a defined scientific problem.

Guest speakers in 2015 included:

Adam Carter, New York University
Beverley Clark, University College London, UK
Jeremy Dittman, Weill Cornell Medical College
Joshua Dudman, Janelia Farm Research Campus
Mark Farrant, University College London, UK
Michael Hausser, University College London, UK
Peter Hegemann, Humboldt University Berlin Germany
Stephen Ikeda, National Institute of Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism
Amy Lee, University of Iowa
Jeffrey Magee, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Craig Montell, University of California, Santa Barbara
Crina Nimigean, Weill Cornell Medical College
Andrew Plested, Leibnitz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology Germany
Mala Shah, University College London, UK
Jesper Sjostrom, McGill University, Canada
Matthew Xu-Friedman, State University of New York Buffalo

Support & Stipends

Major support provided by the Helmsley Charitable Trust and Howard Hughes Medical Institute


Stipends are available to offset tuition costs as follows:

Interdisciplinary Fellowships (transitioning from outside biology)  & Scholarships (transitioning from other biological disciplines) (Helmsley Charitable Trust)
Domestic/International applicants (Howard Hughes Medical Institute)

Scientists from developing countries accepted into this course may be eligible for scholarships provided by the International Brain Research Organization.

Please indicate your eligibility for funding in your stipend request submitted when you apply to the course. Stipend requests do not affect selection decisions made by the  instructors. 

Cost (including board and lodging): $4,705

This button links to a short form which confirms your interest in the course. No fees are due until you have completed the full application process and are accepted into the course.

Students accepted into the course should plan to arrive by early evening on June 7 and plan to depart after lunch on June 28.