The course is designed to introduce students to the basic concepts and principles of developmental biology, and to explore the modern interface between this "classic" discipline, and the fields of molecular and cell biology. A major focus of the course material will be on the identification, characterization and understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying development, made possible by genetic experimental approaches used in the study of model organisms such as Drosophila (fruitfly- the major model system explored), C. elegans (worm), frogs, zebrafish and mice. Emphasis will be placed on the unifying principles governing animal development, and on their far-reaching impact on issues such as evolution and human health.
Specific topics to be covered include:
- Elaboration of fundamental concepts in developmental biology, such as induction, morphogen gradients and master regulators;
- Key molecular pathways mediating developmental signaling;
- Development and differentiation of major physiological systems and organs;
- Utilization of basic cell biological systems such as cytoskeletal organization and protein trafficking in promoting developmental processes;
- Specialized issues such as the roles of programmed cell death and stem cells during development.