Welcome to ACAN 2017

23rd April to 13th May 2017

Australian Course in Advanced Neuroscience

Find Out More
Australasian Neuroscience Society

23rd April to 13th May 2017

The Australian Course in Advanced Neuroscience (ACAN) is an intensive three-week course provided by the Australasian Neuroscience Society. The course guides participants through the theory and practice of electrophysiological recording and optical imaging techniques using a unique balance of small group lectures and hands-on laboratory work. During the course, each participant will be trained by leading experts in the field to ensure they can become proficient in the latest techniques of patch-clamp recording (in vitro and in vivo), calcium imaging and optogenetics.

International faculty for the 2017 course will include: Maarten Kole, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience; Ede Rancz, The Francis Crick Institute, London, UK; Jinny Kim, KIST, Republic of Korea; Mark Harnett, MIT, USA; Andreas Frick, Neurocentre Magendie, University Bordeaux, France; George Augustine, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Singapore and Brad Baker, KIST, Republic of Korea, together with prominent faculty from across Australia and New Zealand.

Course Content

  • Theoretical basis of neuronal function, and neural network operations
  • Principles of electrophysiological and optical recording
  • Principles of optogenetics and optical neurophysiology
  • New techniques in neuroscience
  • Learn patch-clamp recording in vitro and in vivo
  • Learn to image the activity of single neurons and networks
  • Learn how to control neurons with optogenetic approaches


Dendritic Recording

Week 1: Neuronal Excitability

The first week introduces participants to the theoretical basis of neuronal function, principles and practice of electrophysiological recording and in vivo recording techniques.

Trunk spike figure

Week 2: Neuronal Networks

In the second week, the course covers fundamentals of synaptic transmissions, synaptic plasticity, learning and memory which provides participants with a clear understanding of neuronal network operations.

Dorsal Horn Neurons

Week 3: Imaging and Control of Neuronal Circuits

In the final week, participants learn about the principles of neuronal imaging, practice advanced optical imaging techniques and master techniques in optogenetic control of neuronal circuits.

Patch clamp

Laboratory Project

Throughout the course students will also carry out a small research project of their own choosing. This might be a pilot experiment for research you wish to conduct in your own lab.



The course is limited to a maximum of
12 participants who must be one of a:

  1. PhD student
  2. Postdoctoral Fellow
  3. Junior Faculty (preferably no more than 5 years after completing your PhD)



The course is heavily subsidised but a fee of A$4500 (incl GST) is required which covers:

  1. all accommodation
  2. all meals
  3. tuition expenses
  4. laboratory supplies

NZ Scholarships are available.



Applications must include the following attachments:

  1. completed application form
  2. curriculum vitae
  3. letter of recommendation from your PhD supervisor or the head of your laboratory
  4. cover letter that clearly states how you will apply the skills taught at ACAN to your current and future research.



Scholarships from the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand

The Neurological Foundation of New Zealand is pleased to announce that it will be offering scholarships to New Zealand-based beginning neuroscientists to allow them to participate in the Australian Course in Advanced Neuroscience (ACAN). Awards of up to $1,000 per attendee will be provided. Applicants should be either NZ citizens or hold permanent residency. It is important that applicants secure the necessary additional funding from their host institution before applying. The ACAN organizers will select the participants and then the Foundation will enter into discussions with the successful New Zealand-based applicants.

Please direct enquiries to:

Dr Douglas Ormrod
Scientific Secretary
Neurological Foundation of New Zealand
PO Box 110022
Auckland 1030
Ph: [64 9] 309 7749
Fax: [64 9] 377 0614
E-mail: douglas.ormrod@neurological.org.nz
Web: http://www.neurological.org.nz



Professor Stephen Williams

Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, Australia

ACAN Director and Course Coordinator

I would definitely recommend ACAN to other neuroscientists. I feel like I levelled up as a scientist over the three weeks of the course. It was intensive and challenging, but one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life. The quality of the teaching and instruction is incredible, the scientists that visit are world experts in their field, and quite often the discoverers of the theory they are teaching.

Founded by Australia's Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, ACAN has been running for over 10 years. The Australasian Neuroscience Society (ANS) formally took over responsibility for ACAN from the Finkel Foundation in 2009.

ANS: A brief history of ACAN 

Leading scientists from around the world generously contribute their time and expertise to ACAN on a voluntary basis to provide high quality instruction in the latest neuroscience techniques.



Scientific equipment and supplies are generously provided by the following suppliers


Axon Instruments



Financial Support is generously provided by the following institutes


Monash University
Neurological Foundation of NZ
The Florey
The University of Auckland
The University of Melbourne
The University of Newcastle Australia


ACAN is held annually at the University of Queensland's Moreton Bay Research Station (MBRS) situated on North Stradbroke Island near Brisbane.

Each student will have a private study-bedroom located at the MBRS. Course faculty will be accommodated in nearby houses. Most meals will be provided by professional caterers at the MBRS, with some meals at local restaurants.


For any enquiries or further information regarding ACAN 2017, please contact the ACAN Director, Professor Stephen Williams, by calling or sending an email.