Imaging Structure & Function in the Nervous System
July 21 - August 10, 2020
Application & Materials Deadline: April 1, 2020


Stéphane Dieudonné, Ecole Normale Supérieure, France
Elizabeth Hillman, Columbia University
Benjamin Judkewitz, Charité and Humboldt University, Germany
Ruben Portugues, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Germany
Philbert Tsai, University of California, San Diego


Joseph Donovan,
Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Germany

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

Advances in light microscopy, digital image processing, and the development of powerful fluorescent probes present expanding opportunities for investigating the nervous system, from synaptic spines to networks in the brain.

This intensive laboratory and lecture course will provide participants with the theoretical and practical knowledge to utilize emerging imaging technologies. The primary focus of the course will be on in vivo applications of light microscopy, particularly functional imaging with genetically encoded indicators.

Methods taught will include:

  • Multi-photon microscopy
  • Wide-field microscopy
  • Light-sheet and SCAPE microscopy 
  • Use of spatial light modulators and digital holography
  • Combination of imaging with optogenetics
  • Analysis of imaging datasets 

Lectures by leading experts will progress through basic concepts to presentation of cutting edge methods. Students will learn the fundamentals of optics and microscopy, as well as the use of different types of cameras, laser scanning systems, in vivo preparations and image processing and analysis software. Hands-on optics and building exercises are an important component of the course, enabling students to develop an intuitive understanding of optical principles, assemble their own two-photon microscope, and gain experience with a variety of state-of-the-art commercial systems.

We encourage applications from theoretical neuroscientists and experimental neuroscientists working on a variety of model organisms, including mouse, fish, fly and worm. 

In your personal statements, applicants should answer the following questions (point by point, ≤ 1 page total):

  1. What are your reasons for attending the course?
  2. What is your experience with optical techniques and with microscope systems are available to you?
  3. What is your experience with data and image analysis and programming in Matlab or Python?
  4. How will the course help you in your current project?
  5. How will you help others using the knowledge obtained during the course?
  6. What are your long-term goals in learning more about optical methods?
All participants should familiarize themselves with the following concepts by the beginning of the course:
  1. Fundamentals of Fourier transform and matrix operations
  2. Basic programming experience in either MATLAB or Python (see e.g.: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Prior year Lecturers:

Jeff Lichtman, Harvard University
Jennifer Waters, Harvard Medical School
Michael Lin, Stanford University School of Medicine
Robert Campbell, University of Alberta, Canada
Na Ji, Janelia Farm Research Campus / HHMI
Winfried Denk, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Germany
Jack Waters, Allen Institute for Brain Science
Valentina Emiliani, The European Neuroscience Institute at Paris Descartes University, France
Kurt Haas, University of British Columbia, Canada
Jerome Mertz, Boston University 
Darcy Peterka, Columbia University
Ruben Portugues, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Germany
Elizabeth Hillman,
Columbia University
Carsen Stringer, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Cathie Ventalon, The European Neuroscience Institute at Paris Descartes University, France
Chris Xu, Cornell University
Maria Florencia Iacaruso, The Francis Crick Institute
Emilie Mace, Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Germany

Support & Stipends
We would line to acknowledge the following companies that provided invaluable support:
Microscope Systems:
Bruker Corporation, Intellegent Imaging innovations, Scientifica, Sutter Instrument Company, Thorlabs, Inc
Andor Technology, Bitplane, Coherent, Inc, Conoptics, Crystalaser, Hamamatsu Photonics, Holoeye, Molecular Devices, Narishige International USA, Nikon Corporation, Photometrics, Thorlabs, Inc, Vidrio Technologies, LLC, World Precision Instruments
Incubation: Okolab, Tokai Hit USA Inc

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. 

Cost (including board and lodging): $5,140

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 July 20 and plan to depart after lunch on August 10.

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: