Course Descriptions

Core Curriculum – Genes
Fall (1st half)
2 credit hours
Molecular genetics of model organisms; DNA replication, repair and recombination; transcription; RNA catalysis, processing and interference; translation; protein turnover; developmental biology; and genomics.

Core Curriculum – Proteins
Fall (1st half)
2 credit hours
The energetic basis of protein structure; stability; ligand binding and regulation; enzyme mechanics and kinetics; methods of purification; and analysis by spectroscopic methods.

Core Curriculum – Cells
Fall (2nd half)
2 credit hours
Cell structure; membrane biology; intracellular membrane and protein trafficking; energy conversion; signal transduction and second messengers; cytoskeleton; cell cycle; and introductory material in microbiology, immunology, and neurobiology.

Gene Transcription
Fall (2nd half)
2 credit hours
Gene Transcription expands on the fundamental concepts studied in the first-year Core Course emphasizing experimental strategies, reading of primary literature, critical evaluation of data and student discussion. Topics change with current advances in the field. Topics include mechanisms of gene transcription and transcriptional control of cellular and developmental processes.

Advanced Genetics I – Model Systems
Spring (1st half)
1.5 credit hours
This course focuses on the power of genetic analysis as an approach to identifying and studying important processes in development. The model organisms covered are C. elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish, and mouse. The class combines lectures and discussion sessions, with heavy emphasis on critical reading of a small number of papers. Topics vary, but generally include areas of very current interest to developmental biologists.

Hypothesis-Driven Grantsmanship
Spring full semester (taken in second year simultaneously with qualifying examination)
1.5 credit hours
This course is required and specifically intended for graduate students who take the qualifying exam for the Genetics and Development program in May. Experienced faculty members discuss how hypothesis-driven grant applications are written and evaluated; how to articulate scientific hypotheses; and how to test scientific hypotheses. Students design, compose and present their own grant proposals and evaluate their colleagues’ research proposals in small-group discussion sessions. The course culminates with a formal written proposal, mentored by an expert in the area of the student’s research proposal. Prerequisite: Declared candidacy for the Genetics and Development Graduate Program.

Professionalism, Responsible Conduct of Research, and Ethics I
Fall full semester
1 credit hour
Goals of education in RCR; professionalism; collaboration; teambuilding and professional behaviors; everyday practice of ethical science; mentorship; data management and reproducibility; animal research; genetics and human research.

Professionalism, Responsible Conduct of Research, and Ethics II
Spring full semester
1 credit hour
Codes of ethics and misconduct; building inter-professional teams; conflict of interest; sexual boundaries and professional behavior; applications of genetic testing; technology transfer and intellectual property; plagiarism, authorship, and citation; peer review; image and data manipulation.

Electives

See degree plan (page 2) for specific elective requirements.

Topics in Developmental Biology
Spring (1st half)
1.5 credit hours
The main objective of this course is to provide the student with an in-depth knowledge of the mechanisms of development and how these processes are relevant to human disease. Topics include axis formation, asymmetric cell division, regeneration, and the connectivity between developmental biology and cancer. Students will become familiar with the range of techniques employed in model organisms to investigate the complex signals that direct developmental processes. The course uses a combination of lectures and small group discussions of relevant papers to evaluate the existing literature on a given topic.

Advances in Stem Cell Biology
Spring (2nd half)
1.5 credit hours
The objective of this course is to provide students with current knowledge of embryonic and adult stem cells and how these pluripotent/multipotent populations can be used to treat human congenital defects, diseases, or injury. The first part of the course will survey current knowledge of embryonic and germline stem cells and the factors that regulate their growth and development into tissue specific stem cells. Subsequently, adult stem cells in the hematopoietic, nervous, cardiac, and other systems will be discussed to provide examples of tissue-specific adult stem cells.

Emerging hot topics such as cancer stem cells and inducible pluripotency are also emphasized. Other topics include how advances in cellular and molecular biology can be applied to stem cells in regenerative medicine, and the bioethical and legal issues related to stem cell research. The course includes discussions of the most pertinent recent literature, and presentation of research from the Instructor's own laboratory.

Advanced Genetics II: Human Genetics
Spring (2nd half)
1.5 credit hours
Introduction to the conceptual basis of human genetics research. Some classes review basic principles of medical genetics, as many students lack prior exposure to this subject, but discussions emphasize research applications rather than clinical problems. Topics include discovery of the molecular basis of Mendelian disorders and complex traits through molecular cytogenetics, genetic linkage, candidate gene, and genomewide association methods. Discussion of current research papers illustrates each of these approaches.