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B2010 The Biology of Development (previously B250)

2nd year half-course-unit Jan-March 2006  

[Important:  the information on this page is definitive and supersedes any conflicting information you might find elsewhere - e.g. the Faculty of Life Sciences course information pages.  Check this page regularly as any changes will be posted here (last updated 02/02/2006)]

Lectures are held on Mondays 12-1pm in the Cruciform Lecture Theatre 2 and on Wednesdays 9-10am in the Lankester Lecture Theatre, Medawar Building.

Organiser: Dr Hazel Smith,  Dept of Biology.  (~ 70 students registered)

Assessment: 85% final exam, 15% coursework essay.

*********** follow this link to B2010 COURSEWORK ESSAY TITLES 2006  ************  and how to write and submit it, deadlines etc

[Note: this 2nd year course is designed to feed into the 3rd year course C3 (a+b) Mechanisms of Development, organized and run by Prof Claudio Stern in the Dept of Anatomy and Developmental Biology.  This course is organized in two half-units - C3a ( lectures) and C3b (practicals/demonstrations/tutorial).  Students can  take either C3a alone or C3a+b together.   If you find that you enjoyed B2010, then you should seriously consider taking C3a or C3a+b next year]


1 Jan 09 (Mon) Introduction: why study development? The main issues, model systems (WR)

2 Jan 11 (Wed) Drosophila: genetics of segmentation (WR) [segmentation]

3 Jan 16 (Mon)  Drosophila: homeotic (HOM) genes. Antennapedia and Bithorax Complexes (WR) [HOM genes]

Jan 18 (Wed)  no lecture

4 Jan 23 (Mon) Molecular genetics of the BX-C (WR) [regulatory mutants].

5 Jan 25 (Wed) Vertebrate HOM genes (WR)

6 Jan 30 (Mon) Early vertebrate development: axis determination and gastrulation (LD) [vertebrate embryogenesis PDF] (needs Adobe Reader)

7 Feb 01 (Wed) Pre-implantation mammalian development and derivation of embryonic stem cells (HS) [mouse development and ES cells]

8 Feb 06 (Mon) Formation of the germ layers - molecular biology of mesoderm induction (LD)

9 Feb 08 (Wed) Transgenic mice in the study of development (HS) [transgenic mice]

10 Feb 13 (Mon) Neural induction and head development (LD)

11 Feb 15 (Wed) Tutorial on essay writing

12 Feb 20 (Mon) Development and ageing (DG) [ageing Powerpoint] [ageing handout]

13 Feb 22 (Wed) Evolution of development (GK) [Evo-Devo lecture summary] [Evo-Devo lecture notes]

14 Feb 27 (Mon) Eye development in vertebrates and Drosophila (HS) [eye development PDF] (needs Adobe Reader)

15 Mar 01 (Wed) Sexual dimorphism ... (JW) [sex determination Powerpoint] 

16 Mar 06 (Mon) ... and sex-determining genes (JW)

17 Mar 08 (Wed) Vertebrate limb/ wing development (WR) [reading: Wolpert 2nd ed Chapter 10 and Gilbert 6th ed Chapter 16]

18 Mar 13 (Mon) Pattern and cell type specification in the vertebrate CNS (NP) [CNS patterning]

19 Mar 15 (Wed) Wiring the CNS: axon guidance in flies and mammals (MF) [axon guidance]

20 Mar 20 (Mon)  Branching morphogenesis: a common theme in organogenesis (MF) [branching morphogenesis]

21 Mar 22 (Wed)  Vascular development [vascular development] (MF)


WR - Prof Bill Richardson (Biology/WIBR) x 4-6729

LD - Dr Leslie Dale (Anatomy and Dev Biol)  x 3-3061

JW - Dr Jonathan Wolfe (Biology) x 2-7417

HS - Dr Hazel Smith (Biology/WIBR) x 4-6733

MF - Dr Marcus Fruttiger (Biology/Inst of Ophthalmology) x 020 7608 6872

NP - Dr Nigel Pringle (Biology/WIBR) x 4-6736

GK - Dr Georgy Koentges (Biology/WIBR) x 4-6955

DG – Dr David Gems (Biology) x 3-4381

Recommended texts

1. "Principles of Development" (2nd edition 2002) by Lewis Wolpert and others (Current Biology Ltd, Oxford University Press) approx 30. Copies available in the DMS Watson library. This is a well-illustrated book written at an appropriate level – recommended.

2. "Developmental Biology" (7th edition 2003) by Scott Gilbert (Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland Massachuetts). This is an excellent book that covers more ground in more detail than Wolpert's book, and costs a little more (approx 40 from Waterstones). Copies are available in the DMS Watson library. It comes with a CD and also has an associated web site. If you decide to stick with Developmental Biology in the third year, this will see you through. If not, you can always sell it on to next year's 2nd year group.

3. "Molecular Biology of the Cell " (4th edition 2002) by Alberts et al. (Garland Publishing Inc. NY and London). Most of you will have this book already (if not, you should have); it is used in several other courses in all three years. Chapter 15 "Cell communication",  Chapter 17 "The cell cycle and programmed cell death", Chapter 20 "Germ cells and fertilization" and Chapter 21 "Development of multicellular organisms" are of particular relevance to this course.

This course will be assessed 85% by final examination, 15% by coursework essay. The format of the exam is "answer FOUR questions in three hours", out of a choice of NINE questions. Each question is in the form of an essay, or short notes on a choice of topics (e.g. two out of three choices). [2000 exam] [2001 exam] [2002 exam] [2003 exam] [2004 exam] [2005 exam]

General guidance on reading/revision/examination technique

Start by reading the relevant sections of Alberts et al (MBC), Wolpert (Principles of Development) and/or Gilbert (Developmental Biology) (see above). Then read one or more of the REVIEW ARTICLES recommended by the lecturer. Only if you feel compelled by curiosity and have time is it necessary to delve through the original research articles. In general, if in the examination you cover all the main points discussed in the lecture and demonstrate understanding as well as recall, this will be sufficient for a 2:1 mark. To gain a first class mark (>70%) you will also need to demonstrate that you have read outside of the lecture notes - this means including facts/discussion in your exam answer that could only have come from extra reading. REMEMBER - diagrams are invaluable; use them whenever they would be helpful. Apart from anything else, it is very tiring for the examiners to have to read close-packed lines of scribbles, when a simple diagram with a brief description would do the job.

The examiners are not necessarily looking for examples of perfect prose in your essay answers. This is not a course in English Literature. However, a WELL-ORGANIZED essay is a good essay. Start off by making a few notes at the top of the page to help you remember the main points you want to cover and arrange them in a logical order. Time spent at this planning stage is well-spent. Keep calm, with an eye on the clock. It is often better to leave an answer unfinished and move on to the next one if you are running out of time - return to it at the end if you can. It is better to have four partially completed answers than only three comprehensive answers. Of course, it is even better to have four comprehensive answers!

some related web sites:

Virtual Embryo

Amphibian Embryology Tutorial

MIT Biology Hypertextbook

U Penn Basic Embryology Review

Tree of Life

Texas Memorial Museum

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