Neuroscience Program Bylaws

Administrative Home:    Pathology and the Graduate Medical Education Unit
Revision date(s):    June 2022
Graduate Council Approval:    Approved November 17, 2022

Article I. Objective

A.    Degree(s) offered by the program: PhD

B.    Discipline: A brief statement on the discipline(s) of the program.

The Neuroscience Program uses innovative cellular, computational, electrophysiological, genetic, imaging and molecular strategies to address outstanding problems in neuroscience.  These approaches are employed in an integrative manner to engage in research in all areas of neuroscience, including behavior, biophysics, cell biology, development, neural systems, and disorders of the nervous system.

C.    Mission of the Program:

The mission of the Neuroscience Program is to train students in the concepts and methods of modern neuroscience to impart the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm needed to make creative contributions to this field during their entire careers.

Article II. Membership

A.    Criteria for Membership in the Graduate Program

Authority to define criteria for faculty membership in the various graduate groups is delegated to the executive committees of these graduate groups, including criteria for inclusion, exclusion, and removal, unless otherwise specified. Further, authority is also delegated to graduate group executive committees to propose and administer bylaws governing faculty participation and conduct. Membership is independent and separate from academic department appointments. Membership is based upon disciplinary expertise, active research and adherence to the faculty code of conduct, so members throughout campus are eligible for consideration to membership in the group. New faculty members are put forward to the program Executive Committee and if ≥50% of the faculty members of that committee are supportive then the candidate is invited to give a seminar to the membership. The discussion of candidates by the Executive Committee centers around the criteria in the written policies regarding eligibility for membership and relate to involvement of the EC in the search process (for new faculty) or evidence of involvement in graduate student education and research independence at UCSF or a previous institution (for established faculty). This is followed by a vote of the program members and to be granted membership the candidate must receive 50%+1 of the existing members of the program.

B.    Voting rights.

Day to day functions of the graduate program are managed by the Director. Important changes in graduate program management will be determined by a vote of the Executive Committee members.  All members of the Executive Committee will have an equal vote.

C.    Application for membership.

1.    How faculty may apply:
To become a member of the Neuroscience Program, faculty discuss their candidacy with the Director who will forward their application that contains mention of their scientific expertise, active research and adherence to the faculty code of conduct for approval by the Neuroscience Executive Committee. If supported by ≥50% of the Executive Committee the candidate is invited to give a seminar. A vote of the program members follows. A successful vote must have more than 50% of members vote in favor of membership (a non-vote counts as a no vote).

2.    Anticipated contributions that graduate faculty members will perform as a member.
a.    Faculty in the Neuroscience program are expected to demonstrate their commitment to the training program by regularly participating in program activities. These may include teaching in courses; presenting or serving as a coach for the journal club series; serving as an academic advisor; serving on thesis and qualifying examination committees; outreach and other activities that promote diversity and inclusivity in the Neuroscience program; participating in recruitment and interviews; regular attendance at program events; and Neuroscience program committee service.

b.    Mentoring and teaching in the lab:  Program faculty are expected to maintain a productive and inclusive training environment for thesis students. Relevant measures may include evidence that the laboratory environment is welcoming to and supportive of trainees from all backgrounds; that lab students produce rigorous and reproducible publication-worthy research; that research is conducted in the spirit of open science including depositing work on preprint servers and publishing in open-source journals, when appropriate; that lab students complete their degrees in a timely manner; and that students successfully transition into careers in the scientific workforce

c.    Participation in faculty mentor development activities:  Program faculty must participate in the Thesis Mentor Development Program. Specifically, each faculty member with a Neuroscience student in their lab must complete the DEI Champion’s Training within 1 year of accepting a student into their lab and take part in at least one mentorship development activity of their choosing each successive year. Typically, an “activity” will be a University-sponsored training, such as the courses offered by the Graduate Division ( or those organized by the Neuroscience program in conjunction with the yearly faculty meeting. However, the development of strong mentorship skills is an ongoing process that extends beyond any single course, and faculty are encouraged to seek mentorship development opportunities in many different ways. Faculty who undertake significant activities outside of the University-sponsored training may petition the program to allow these activities to satisfy the mentor development activity requirement in a given year.

3.    Compliance with University policies and Program values
Program faculty are expected to comply with all university policies and uphold the values of the training program, including but not limited to the University Code of Conduct (APM-016); UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment; the UC Policy on Discrimination, and the Harassment, and Affirmative Action in the Workplace; scientific misconduct and/or financial improprieties. Program faculty are expected to report formal investigation for misconduct and the results of such investigations to the program director. 

D.    Emeritus Status.

Emeritus faculty with active research programs may remain members of the program and are afforded the following rights: they may attend and participate in program activities (including meetings and administrative committees), may teach graduate courses, and may serve on student committees. Emeritus faculty on the Executive Committee may vote on policy and bylaw issues related to the program. Emeritus faculty are expected to report formal investigation for misconduct and the results of such investigations to the program director.

E.    Review of Membership

The criteria for reviewing members of the program is the same for all members. Each faculty member’s contributions to the program shall be reviewed once every five years for the purpose of identifying faculty members who are not providing a minimal level of service to the program. Faculty not providing minimal levels of service to the program will be reminded of their responsibilities by the Director. 

1.    Obtaining relevant information
To ensure compliance with these requirements the Program Director(s) and Executive Committee need to have the relevant information about faculty conduct. While information about faculty participation in program events and training is readily attainable, information about other types of violations may be difficult to obtain if, for example, the University is not forthcoming with information about faculty violations of University policies, or an individual who experiences a hostile interaction in the workplace does not report it. Thus, considering the different types and sources of information that are needed, the Neuroscience Program proactively seeks to track compliance with these requirements in multiple ways, as described in section 4.2 below.

2.    Violations of program expectations for faculty conduct
The Graduate Program Directors, Executive Committee, and Program Coordinators are in frequent communication with trainees, faculty, the Graduate Division, and the University administration to monitor for compliance with all membership policy requirements. This can include reports from the Bias Response Team (once it has been established) or other communications from the Graduate Division, and communications from the University administration about faculty violations of the University Code of Conduct. The Executive Committee will promptly revoke program membership at any time upon learning about faculty conduct detrimental to the program or the safety and welfare of its members. Examples of evidence of this type of detrimental conduct include (but are not limited to), official findings by the University that a faculty member has violated Title VII or IX, or legal determinations of guilt (including settlements out of court) that may not have resulted in a University sanction. Furthermore the Neuroscience program takes seriously any University Code of Conduct formal finding of violation that involves conduct harmful to trainees and this may be grounds for terminating faculty membership at the discretion of the Director and Executive Committee.

In addition, faculty may also be put on suspension or removed from the program for conduct that has not resulted in a University or legal sanction but nonetheless has been determined by the Executive Committee to be detrimental to the program or the safety and welfare of its members. This may include serious or sustained actions that create a hostile work environment such as a pattern of racist, sexist, or homophobic remarks or behavior, or a significant lack of professionalism or integrity. Indeed, the Neuroscience program expects all of its faculty members to represent and uphold UCSF values of Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diversity and Excellence.

The Executive Committee will develop a course of action on a case-by-case basis. For example, faculty who are found to have violated Title VII or IX will be removed from the program immediately and are generally not eligible to reapply (see Section 4.5 below) whereas the plan of action to address less severe violations may include interventions by program leadership, mediation, additional training, etc. before a decision to suspend or remove a faculty member from the program is reached. In any of these cases, the program may seek guidance from University offices and resources, such as the Office of Academic Affairs, the Office of the Ombuds, and the Graduate Division.

F.    Membership Appeal Process
If membership is denied or not renewed, faculty can appeal to the Executive Committee for reconsideration.

Article III. Administration

The administration of the program and its activities will be vested in the Program Director(s) and an Executive Committee.

Article IV. Graduate Program Director

A.    Director and Co-director appointment process

The graduate program executive committee places a call for nominations to program members. Nominees are contacted directly to determine interest. Final nominees are interviewed by the executive committee and by students. A nominee is selected followed by a vote of program members.

B.    Director and Co-director terms of service

The Director (and Co-director if applicable) commit to serving for at least five years unless extenuating circumstances call for a shorter term.

C.    Duties of the Director

The Director: a) provides overall academic leadership for the program; b) develops and implements policies for the program; c) represents the interests of the program to the campus and University administrators; d) calls and presides at meetings of the Executive Committee; e) calls and presides at meetings of the program; f) is responsible for coordinating all administrative matters with the Graduate Division and the program administrators; g) manages the budgets of the program; h) takes responsibility for the submission of competitive and non-competitive renewals of the training grant, if applicable (and is often the Lead PI of the training grant); i) submits course change or approval forms; and j) is responsible for the accuracy of all publications related to  the  program  including web pages and catalog copy.

D.    Duties of the Co-Director

Currently the Neuroscience Program does not have a Co-Director position. 

E.    Vice Chair/Director

Neuroscience does not have this position.

Article V. Committees

A.     Executive Committee

The Neuroscience Executive Committee shall consist of the director (and co-director, if applicable) of the program plus at least six faculty selected from the membership, and 3-4 students who have advanced to candidacy. The student members are nominated and selected by the students. All members have voting rights, including the student representatives, unless the student does not participate in the discussion due to the nature of the item (see below). The faculty members of the Executive Committee are chosen by the Director and ideally serve for at least 5 years. 

Election of faculty members of the Executive Committee: faculty members of the Executive Committee are appointed by the program director.

The principal duties of the Executive Committee shall be to determine and implement policy for the good of the program, determine program membership, and to represent the interests of the program generally to various universities and other agencies. 

Any Executive Committee member may rule that an item of business is inappropriate for discussion in the presence of the student representatives. That item of business will then be discussed in the absence of the student members of the Committee. More generally, The chair of any committee with student members must excuse the student representatives from meetings during discussion about personnel actions or disciplinary issues relating to faculty, during rankings of existing students for funding, and for disciplinary issues related to students.

The Executive Committee shall meet at least annually. Additional meetings and executive sessions may be held as deemed necessary, or upon petition by five members of the program.  In some cases, decisions can be made by email without calling a meeting of the committee members.

B.    Admissions Committee

The Admissions Committee shall consist of faculty members appointed by the committee chair. The student representatives to the executive committee appoint student members to the Admissions Committee. Student members must have advanced to candidacy and serve as full committee members for two years. The committee members will review and rank the written applications to select applicants for an interview, will interview applicants, and will assess interview evaluations to select applicants for admission. Faculty and students will serve for two-year renewable terms.

C.    Additional Committees

Curriculum Committee
The program director appoints the chair of the Curriculum Committee. The Committee Chair will appoint members to the committee. The function of this committee shall include consideration of course offerings and recommendations regarding the graduate program and supervision of teaching assignments and teaching experience of graduate students. The chair and faculty members of the Curriculum Committee will serve for a two-year term that is renewable.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee
The program director appoints co-chairs for 2-year terms. The committee is composed of faculty, students, postdoctoral scholars, and staff members who apply to the committee and are reviewed by current committee members. The co-chairs and members will serve for 2-year, renewable, terms. The function of this committee shall be to foster a diverse and inclusive neuroscience research community, which enhances the graduate student educational experience, the workplace, and the nature of scientific research. The DEI Committee will organize and conduct outreach activities to facilitate submission of applications from applicants of diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. The DEI Committee will develop and organize program activities to support equity and inclusion for all members of the UCSF neuroscience research community. The DEI committee will work in collaboration with the executive, admissions, and seminar committees to promote diversity and inclusion.

Formal Seminar Committee
The program director appoints the chair of the Formal Seminar Committee. The Committee Chair will appoint members to the committee. The chair and members will serve for 2-year, renewable, terms. The function of this committee shall be to select formal seminar speakers annually in consultation with program faculty and student members. The goals of the committee are to choose a slate of speakers who perform excellent cutting edge neuroscience research but that also represent broad diversity of backgrounds and experiences to help provide trainees with role models.

Retreat Committee
The program director appoints the chair of the Retreat Committee. The Committee Chair will appoint members to the committee. The chair and members will serve for 2-year, renewable, terms. The function of this committee shall be to plan the annual retreat of the Neuroscience Program.

Student Progress Committee
The program director appoints the chair of the Student Progress Committee. The Committee Chair will appoint members to the committee. The chair and members will serve for 2-year, renewable, terms. The function of this committee shall be to oversee student progress.

Standing Student Committees
Student Standing committees are established and run by students of the Neuroscience Program. The students determine student committee membership and function. These consist of: Student Social Committee; Student Recruitment Committee; Student Peer Mentoring Committee; Student Handbook Committee. Generally student committees are commissioned by students for purposes that the students suggest. They may also elect to include postdoctoral fellows from Neuroscience program laboratories.

Article VI. Student Representatives

Student representatives are self-nominated and selected by the students typically in response to a Committee Service Announcement sent from student executive committee members by email. Students serve for two-year renewable terms.

Article VII. Graduate Advisers

Each year, the Neuroscience Program assigns faculty and student advisors for the incoming class. Faculty Advisors: Students must meet with their faculty advisors quarterly starting in year one until they advance to candidacy at the beginning of the third year. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss the student’s coursework, lab rotations, general academic progression and career goals. The Faculty Advisor is someone who will be outside of rotation or thesis lab choices, and thus a neutral person to confide in and discuss issues that may be uncomfortable to discuss with a rotation or thesis PI. The advisor can be an important ally during the student’s time in the program in case of conflicts with faculty, postdocs or other students. Advisors will focus on career advice rather than scientific advice, so students may be paired with advisors outside of their field of interest.

Student Advisors: Students meet with their student advisors at least quarterly during the first year. The role of the student advisor is to help new students navigate UCSF during their first year in the program.

Article VIII. Meetings

The Neuroscience Program faculty will have at least one annual meeting with the Program Director, typically at the Program Retreat in the fall.  At this meeting, the Program Director will summarize recent programmatic changes and updates, and will open the floor for input from faculty.  Suggestions from this meeting will be taken into consideration by the Program Directors as they set policy for the coming year and will be discussed with the Executive Committee, as appropriate. The annual faculty meeting will also include faculty mentorship training.

The Neuroscience Program Director will have at least one annual meeting with students. At this meeting, the students will summarize matters that they would like brought to the attention of the program. This meeting is meant to be an open discussion of issues. The Program Director will address issues with the Executive Committee.

Article IX. Quorum

All issues that require a vote must be:
•    Voted on by at least 50% of the Executive Committee Membership
•    On graduate program matters other than amendment/revision of bylaws, passage requires a supporting vote by the Executive Committee.
•    On amendments and revision of bylaws: passage requires a supporting vote by at least two thirds of the members voting.

Article X. Order of Business for Meetings

The Neuroscience Program does not have a set order of meetings.

Article XI. Amendments

Amendments to these bylaws may be made in accordance with program’s quorum policy in Article IX. Program members may propose amendments by petition to the program Chair. The program Chair, or relevant program committee, may ask for revisions from the faculty who submitted proposed amendments before forwarding the revisions to the membership for review and voting. Quorum, voting and passage is prescribed in Article IX. All amendments and revisions must be submitted to the Graduate Council for review and approval; changes in the bylaws will become effective upon approval by the Graduate Council.