Mechanisms of neuronal differentiation, development and function


The objective of this curricular unit is the acquisition of basic concepts of molecular neuroscience. Namely, to learn the molecular mechanisms involved in processes ranging from neuronal specification, to the development of mature functional neurons. Besides learning the syllabus, students should become familiar with the experimental approaches used in this area, in order to know how to answer relevant scientific questions. In class, the students will attend seminars lectured by specialists in each of the covered areas. They will also read relevant scientific papers, and will be have to try to extract the information learned previously. Students will then be challenged to present papers to their piers and to discuss them critically, presenting the weak and strong points of each paper, the methodologies used, and possible alternative conclusions that can be drawn. At the end of this module, students should be able to integrate the learned information and conceive a small project that uses concepts and techniques learned during this curricular unit.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Rita Teodoro


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





The main bibliography or other relevant learning resources will be provided by the various scientists that participate in the teaching activities. Whenever applicable bibliography should consist in scientific papers that are available in open access or in specific repositories accessible by the students. In each edition of the course the most updated and current bibliography will be provided. Students are encouraged to share notes and other relevant information concerning the UC in virtual fora or virtual blackboards.

Teaching method

Teaching will be based on a combination of research seminars, workshops, journal clubs, together with practical classes, whenever possible. Teaching will be centered on the students, with the objective of making them independent and capable to conceive and develop a project in the area of molecular neurobiology. Typically, the optional advanced courses will be based on a combination of seminars and more work performed by the student. The evaluation will be based on the discussion and presentation of the work done by the student, its participation in the curricular unit, and in a written test which will allow to level all students for the application of knowledge acquired during the courses to concrete situations related with molecular neuroscience.

Evaluation method

i. The student evaluation consists of a continuous evaluation (20%, 4 points), Journal club presentation (30%, 6 points) and a final evaluation based on a project proposal (oral presentation - 25%, 5 points, and written proposal evaluation - 25%, 5 points)

ii. Continuous assessment will be carried out throughout the classes:

a. Critical Thinking - Demonstration of reasoning and critical thinking skills during presentations and discussions.

b. Knowledge - demonstration of the acquisition of knowledge when questioned by teachers.

c. Participation - Active role in promoting debate and discussion during class (eg by asking relevant questions).

iii. Project proposal:

a. Students are asked to develop a 2-page project proposal (excluding references) with the following structure:

i. Background

ii. Hypothesis and aims

iii. Experimental Plan

b. The proposal must be written in English. The IGNORE to use is Arial 11pt, single-space and 1 cm

margins minimum. The project may be accompanied by an additional page with figures.


Subject matter

Students should acquire knowledge and concepts on the following topics of basic mechanisms of molecular neuroscience: Neuroblast to neuron specification; Neuronal migration and pathfinding; Synaptogenesis; Mechanisms of synaptic growth and maintenance; Neuronal communication; Synaptic plasticity; Glia in the nervous system; Neurodegeneratione neuroregeneration.


Programs where the course is taught: