Montana University System New Academic Program Proposal Summary
Campus: MSU-Bozeman (in collaboration with UM)

Program Title: Neuroscience M.S./Ph.D.


1. How does this program advance the campus' academic mission and fit priorities?

The creation of the department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience (CBN) within the College of Letters and Science in July of 2000 has opened new opportunities for our faculty to fulfill the MSU Mission "to provide a challenging and richly diverse learning environment...that promotes the exploration, discovery, and dissemination of new knowledge" at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. With over 400 undergraduate majors and $4,700,000 in research grant expenditures in FY'02, CBN is already promoting both learning and discovery within a substantial community of students and scholars. Our goal in graduate education is to train a new generation of biological scientists equipped to exploit advanced experimental and computational approaches to develop a comprehensive understanding of nervous system function. Creation of a collaborative M.S./Ph.D. program in Neuroscience will enhance the ability of both MSU and UM to compete nationally in attracting the very best graduate students, students who will enrich the university community. These graduate students will play essential roles both in providing high quality undergraduate instruction as Teaching Assistants and in discovering new knowledge while pursuing their research projects in our funded laboratories.


2. How does this program fit the Board of Regents' goals and objectives?

The objectives of the new program in Neuroscience are complementary to the goals and objectives of the BOR. The program goals are: (1) to attract the best possible graduate students in neuroscience to Montana; (2) to provide comprehensive multidisciplinary training and research opportunities to the students enrolled in the program; (3) to enrich undergraduate education in CBN by providing well trained and highly motivated graduate teaching assistants; (4) to provide highly trained and versatile scientists to meet the needs of the growing biotechnology sector in Montana; and (5) to gain national recognition for the Montana University System through the future accomplishments of our graduates in the field of neuroscience. Thus, this program will further the Regents' goals of "providing a stimulating, responsive, and effective environment for student learning...and academic achievement."

In addition, the new program is highly innovative in that it will utilize the Access Grid Node (AGN) to teach shared classes. The AGN is an internet-based video conferencing technology that will allow selected classes to be held simultaneously on both the MSU and UM campuses. CBN faculty and staff have been instrumental in establishing AGN technology at MSU, where the AGN classroom is housed in the Center for Computational Biology affiliated with CBN. The University of Montana has a new AGN classroom in the Honors College. This technology will allow faculty and students at both Universities to simultaneously participate in lectures and seminars, in essence creating a single classroom between the two sites. The advantage for students is that all 32 neuroscience faculty at MSU and UM will have the opportunity to participate in providing graduate education to the students. Thus this program furthers the Regents' goal "to deliver higher education services in a manner that is efficient, coordinated, and highly accessible."

Finally, the future success of the program in providing highly trained and versatile scientists for the biotechnology sector in Montana and in gaining national recognition for the Montana University System through the accomplishments of our graduates will address the Regents' goals of being "responsive to market, employment, and economic development needs of the State and the nation" and of "improving the support for and understanding of the Montana University System as a leading contributor to the State's economic success and social and political well‑being."


3. How does this program support or advance Montana's needs and interests?

Montana has a continued need for growth in biotechnology and health-related industries to bolster its economy. Such businesses require the support of state educational institutions that will provide highly trained scientists. The new graduate program in Neuroscience is supported by a strong group of research-active faculty with national reputations and proven records of extracurricular funding in a broad range of disciplines. The expertise and research interests of the faculty on the two campuses complement each other, and taken together provide an opportunity to create a comprehensive graduate training program in Neuroscience. Research foci in CBN include the cellular and molecular basis of neural development, neurophysiology and computational biology of sensory systems, and response of the central nervous system to injury. Faculty interests at the University of Montana are focused in neurochemistry, neuropharmacology, systems neuroscience, neurophysiology, neurotoxicology, and disease processes. In addition, many of the faculty are involved in translation of neuroscience fundamental knowledge into strategies for the treatment of nervous system disorders, such as neurological, neurosensory, neurodevelopmental, psychiatric, addictive and other related illnesses. The enthusiasm for research and graduate education among this diverse group of faculty provides outstanding opportunities for graduate students seeking a top-level science education.


4. How will this program contribute to economic development in Montana? (Note projected annual economic impact both regionally and statewide.)

The neuroscience faculty at both MSU and UM already contribute substantial grant revenues to the MUS. For example, CBN had $4,700,000 in research grant expenditures in FY'02, while the recently established COBRE Center in Structural and Functional Neuroscience at UM is supported by a multi-year award of over 6 million dollars from the National Institutes of Health. These funds support campus infrastructure, and indirectly support the surrounding community and state through salary support of graduate students, faculty and staff. Establishment of a new graduate program in Neuroscience that will attract highly capable and motivated students is an essential component in expanding research productivity and funding to even higher levels. The impact that will ultimately be made by future graduates of the program as they launch their own careers is more difficult to gauge, and will likely require some 10-15 years to accurately assess.


5. What is the Program's planned capacity? (At MSU) 15-20 Ph.D. students; 5 M.S. students

Break-even point? 12 students

Enrollments/year? 10 students will transfer from the existing Biological Sciences Ph.D. program during the first year. We anticipate enrollment of 2-3 new students per year in the Ph.D. program thereafter, and 1 student per year in the M.S. program.

Graduates/year? 3-4 Ph.D. students and 1 M.S.student per year at full enrollment.

MT jobs/year? We expect that most of our students will remain in the state or region after graduation. Graduates of neuroscience programs continue to find jobs at universities, research institutes, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology laboratories. The Society for Neuroscience has concluded that the number of available jobs for neuroscientists is likely to increase due to the expansion of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries and the emergence of bioinformatics. Although long term projections from new graduate programs are hard to make, we are training our students to become leaders who will generate jobs and income for the state and region throughout their careers.


6. Resource Allocation

Total program budget Year 1: 228,420 Year 2: 282,917 Year 3: 337,429

Faculty FTE none (Dr. Charles Paden, the Acting Graduate Coordinator for CBN, will continue in that capacity)

Staff FTE 0.4 (0.2 secretarial and 0.2 network support)

Does this program require new resources? Amount?

No new resources are required for this program and no additional faculty or staff hires are needed to implement the proposed program. Team teaching and rotation of assignments among the total of 32 faculty involved at the two institutions (14 at MSU-Bozeman and 18 at UM) will make it possible to offer the new courses required for the program with no net reduction in faculty contributions to other undergraduate and graduate programs. Staff who currently support the graduate program in Biological Sciences within CBN will be reassigned to the new Neuroscience program. These include approximately 0.2 secretarial FTE and 0.2 technical network support FTE.

How will the campus fund the program?

CBN currently has 3 M.S. and 9 Ph.D. students enrolled in the Biological Sciences graduate degree program. All of these students would be offered the opportunity to switch to the new Neuroscience degree program (except for any students that may graduate before its inception). Teaching assistantships currently assigned to CBN students enrolled in the Biological Sciences doctoral program will be made available to students in the new Neuroscience program. Financial support is also available to CBN students from faculty research grants, departmental indirect cost returns, and on a competitive basis through the NSF funded graduate program in Complex Biological Systems and the EPSCoR Program. The substantial number of faculty who will participate in both mentoring and teaching provide a breadth of expertise that will allow the MSU-UM collaborative M.S./Ph.D. program to immediately establish itself as one of the premier neuroscience programs in the Northwest, and our ability to offer a true multidisciplinary graduate program in Neuroscience will enable MSU (and UM) to compete more effectively for additional graduate training grants in the future.

If internal reallocation is necessary, name the sources.

The only internal reallocation will be in graduate teaching assistantships and fee waivers as described above.