Ion Channels in Synaptic and Neural Circuit Physiology (Virtual)
June 1 - 5, 2020
Application Deadline: CLOSED


Jan Gründemann, University of Basel, Switzerland
Angelika Lampert, RWTH Aachen University, Germany
Christoph Schmidt-Hieber, Pasteur Institute, France
Annalisa Scimemi, SUNY Albany
Nicolas Wanaverbecq, Aix-Marseille University, France


COVID-19: As of April 7, elements of this course are being redesigned as a virtual short course. Selection decisions are in progress and we anticipate notifying students in the next few days. We hope the majority of the invited speakers will be able to participate in the virtual course. The full hands-on course will be offered again in June 2021 (dates to be confirmed). 


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
  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. Additionally, the course now includes in vivo recordings with Neuropixels probes.

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.

2020 Guest Speakers Include:

Veronica Alvarez, National Institutes of Health, MD
Jelena Baranovic,
University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom 
Bruce Bean,
Harvard Medical School, MA
Christine Beeton,
Baylor College of Medicine, TX
Tiago Branco, Sainsbury Wellcome Centre, UK
Jeremiah Cohen, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, MD
Isabelle Deschenes, Oklahoma State University Medical Center, OK
Ian Duguid, University of Edinburgh, UK
Sonia Gasparini, Louisana State University Health Sciences Center, LA
Timothy Harris, Janelia Research Campus, VA
Paul Kammermeier, University of Rochester Medical Center, NY
Sonja Kleinlogel, University of Bern, Switzerland 
Linda Overstreet-Wadiche, University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL
Jesper Sjostrom, McGill University, Canada 
Matthew Xu-Friedman, State University of New York Buffalo, NY

Support & Stipends:

We would like to acknowledge the following companies that offered invaluable support:
Nikon Instruments, Inc, Scientifica
Campden Instruments Ltd, Intan Technologies, LLC, Molecular Devices, LLC, Narshige International USA, Sutter Instrument Company, World Precision Instruments

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


Stipends are available to offset tuition costs as follows:

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.

Virtual Attendance Cost : $500

No fees are due until you have been accepted into the course. Financial aid offers will be communicated with the acceptance notifications. Students accepted into the course should plan to be fully engaged and attend ~6 hours of virtual talks and discussion per day 

Before applying, ensure you have:
  1. Personal statement/essay;
  2. Letter(s) of recommendation;
  3. Curriculum vitae/resume (optional);
  4. Financial aid request (optional).
    More details.

If you are not ready to fully apply but wish to express interest in applying, receive a reminder two weeks prior to the deadline, and tell us about your financial aid requirements, click below: