• 1. To introduce a major branch of neurobiology,
namely neuropharmacology, which is important both
on a clinical as well as societal level.
• 2. To provide an example and exercise in integrating material and ideas from the course; this will
involve an analysis of everything from the physiological effects of the drug to the molecular and
biochemical effects of drug-receptor interactions.
• 3. To provide an opportunity to examine and analyze in more depth a topic of particular interest.
The paper should assume the format of an analytical review article that summarizes the current state of
knowledge regarding your drug of choice as well as proposes the critical “next step” or future direction of
research. More specifically, the paper should consist of three sections:
1. Introduction: (~
2 pages): In this section you should provide a brief overview of the topic
explain the significance of your topic.
2. Analysis of the
current status of knowledge regarding the drug (~ 3-4 pages): In this section
provide a literature review and critique. This should include an analysis of: the mechanisms of action of your
drug; its structure; its most effective (or usual) route of administration; the particular neurotransmitter system
involved; whether its mimic an endogenous substance; and its effects at the physiological, behavioral, and
molecular level (and whether these are explainable in light of its mechanism of action). This section should
also contain a critique of the literature, pointing out those areas in which research is deficient or missing. You
should aim to use at least 10 papers from the primary literature for this section; I will ask you to turn these in
with your paper.
3. The Next Step: Future
Directions: (~ 4-5 pages): In this section you should lay out
an experimental plan
to further the current understanding of this drug. This should include experiments to better understand its mode
of action; improvements, antidotes, alternatives to the drug -- this obviously depends on substance selected).
Be specific in this section; avoid vague generalizations; attempt to utilize the techniques and information
discussed in class and outside readings.
You may select any substance that acts upon the nervous system, preferably directly, but this is not an
absolute prerequisite. This includes street drugs, prescription pharmaceuticals, over-the counter remedies,
and recently developed drugs to treat a variety of neurological syndromes. Please be forewarned: you will most
likely need to make extensive usage of interlibrary loan, so it is essential that you begin working on this project
(and select your drug) as soon as possible.
10/24 selection of drug (and a paragraph describing the drug–will be collected in class
11/21 last day to turn in rough drafts for me to review
12/5 final version of paper due
Hints for getting started:
1. Select a drug of personal interest.
2. You may search the Web using any of the following keywords or combinations thereof : drugs and disease;
drugs and e.g. epilepsy (or any other condition); pharmaceuticals; street drugs. But please beware: there is a
great deal of trash on the Web relating to this subject. You should stick to legitimate academic or clinical
3. Search Medline (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez) using keywords similar to those listed above or the
name of a specific drug. This is the best way to obtain information for your paper.
An alternative to a “drug of choice” topic: if you have an interest in doing research on something other than a
drug, you should feel free to select a different (but well defined) topic. You should follow the same format
described above for the drug of choice paper. If you would like to choose this option, you should discuss your
topic with me in advance.