The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 47: 171 - 176 (2003)

Vol 47, Issue 2-3

Special Issue: Teaching Developmental Biology

An intense half-semester developmental biology course, as taught at Uppsala University, Sweden

Published: 1 January 2003

Lennart Olsson

Institut für Spezielle Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie mit Phyletischem Museum, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Jena, Germany.


This intensive course, designed for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students, was first taught in 1995 at Uppsala University, Sweden, and consists of a half-semester (8-9 weeks) of daily lecture and laboratory sessions covering a broad range of topics and giving an overview of developmental biology and some of its applications. The labs introduce students to a diverse assortment of model systems. The course goals are to present a comparative view of animal development (gametogenesis, fertilization, gastrulation, neurulation, organogenesis), followed by lectures on cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate development, such as induction mechanisms, cell adhesion and migration, cell-matrix interactions and genomic imprinting. The development of complex systems, such as the nervous system, limbs and flowers, is emphasized, including aspects such as malformations, homeosis and mutant analysis, reproduction and fertility problems, and the connection between development and cancer. Model organisms are emphasized, but evolutionary aspects receive due attention. Typically, during the first 5 weeks, a day begins with lectures in the morning and ends with labs or demonstrations and seminars in the afternoon. Wednesday afternoons are "free" to give time for reading. A theory test is taken at the end of this period. Then, students do supervised research for 3 weeks to give them a feel for what it is like to do "real science." Finally, students present oral and written reports on their projects. This is the only course students enroll in during this portion of the semester, so they are expected to devote full effort to it.

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