Open Access, Open Data, and Open Educational Resources

Announcing New Open Textbook: Neuroscience for Pre-Clinical Students

by Anita Walz, posted on February 2, 2022

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Virginia Tech Publishing are pleased to announce the second open textbook publication in a series, Neuroscience for Pre-Clinical Students, by Renée LeClair, Ph.D.

book cover
Cover by Kindred Grey. Brain CC BY by Mahmure Alp from The Noun Project.

Neuroscience for Pre-Clinical Students ( is a USMLE-aligned text  designed for a first-year undergraduate medical course, and covers neuroenergetics, neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, and selected amino acid metabolism and degradation. It is meant to provide the essential biochemical information from these content areas in a concise format to enable students to engage in an active classroom. Hence, it does not cover neurophysiology and neuroanatomy; and clinical correlates and additional application of content are intended to be provided in the classroom experience. The text assumes that the students will have completed medical school prerequisites (including the MCAT) in which they will have been introduced to the most fundamental concepts of biology and chemistry that are essential to understand the content presented here. With its focus on high-yield concepts, this resource will assist the learner later in medical school and for exam preparation.

The 49-page text was created specifically for use by pre-clinical students at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and was based on faculty experience and peer review to guide development and hone important topics.

Instructors reviewing, adopting, or adapting parts or the whole of the text are requested to register their interest at:

Sample figure: GLUT1 in the capillary arrow glucose in the astrocyte arrow GLUT3 in the neuron arrow Glucose arrow pyruvate arrow mitochondria with ADP arrow ATP and O2 arrow CO2. GLUT1 in the capillary arrow glucose arrow pyruvate in the astrocyte arrow with LDHS and NADH arrow NAD+ to lactate arrow MCT1,4 arrow MCT2 in the neuron arrow lactate arrow with LDH1 and NAD+ arrow NADH to pyruvate. Glutamate in the neuron arrow with EAATs to Glutamate in the astrocyte arrow with GS to glutamine arrow glutamine in the neuron arrow with GLS to glutamate arrow extracellular space. EAATs arrow 3 Na+ to Na+/K+ ATPase arrows releasing 3 Na+ and 2 K+ extracellularly. Circular arrows between ADP and ATP between Na+/K+ ATPase and arrow between glucose in the capillary to pyruvate in the astrocyte
Sample figure by Kindred Grey

Table of Contents

  1. Neuron and astrocyte metabolism
  2. Neurotransmitters — ACh, glutamate, GABA, and glycine
  3. Neuropeptides and unconventional neurotransmitters
  4. Amino acid metabolism and specialized products

Free Access to Neuroscience for Pre-Clinical Students

Acknowledgments and The Series

This work is the second in a five-volume series of open textbooks for pre-clinical medical education by Renee LeClair and Andrew Binks. Publication is expected by mid-2022. The series is supported in part by funding and/or in-kind contributions from VIVA’s Open Course Grants, Virginia Tech’s Open Education Initiative, Virginia Tech Publishing, and LibreTexts.

Other titles in this series include:   
Cell Biology, Genetics, and Biochemistry for Pre-Clinical Students (LeClair)
Cardiovascular Pathophysiology for Pre-Clinical Students (Binks) (forthcoming)
Pulmonary Pathophysiology for Pre-Clinical Students (Binks) (forthcoming)
Pulmonary Physiology for Pre-Clinical Students (Binks) (forthcoming)
To request email notification of new releases in this series please register at Tech open textbook titles are hosted in VTechWorks and listed as Virginia Tech Open Education Initiative projects

Share your original work 
Instructors and subject matter experts interested in and sharing their original course materials relevant to pre-clinical education are requested to join the instructor portal at

Suggested citation
LeClair, Renée J., (2022). Neuroscience for Pre-Clinical Students, Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Tech Publishing. Licensed with CC BY NC-SA 4.0.

Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike logo

Unless otherwise noted, this work is released under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY NC SA) 4.0 license which allows adaptation and redistribution with attribution for uses which are not primarily commercial. Many figures are available under CC BY 4.0. See the license terms and best practices for attribution for additional information.

About the Author

Renée J. LeClair is an Associate Professor in the Department of Basic Science Education at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, where her role is to engage activities that support the departmental mission of developing an integrated medical experience using evidence-based delivery grounded in the science of learning. She received a Ph.D. at Rice University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute in vascular biology. She became involved in medical education, curricular renovation, and implementation of innovative teaching methods during her first faculty appointment, at the University of New England, College of Osteopathic Medicine. In 2013, she moved to a new medical school, University of South Carolina, School of Medicine, Greenville. The opportunities afforded by joining a new program and serving as the Chair of the Curriculum committee provided a blank slate for creative curricular development and close involvement with the accreditation process. During her tenure she developed and directed a team-taught student-centered undergraduate medical course that integrated the scientific and clinical sciences to assess all six core competencies of medical education.

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