BIOL 955

BIOL 955: Selected Topics in Biology (Molecular Principles of Development)

Overview: The aim of developmental biology is to understand how plants and animals are put together. This involves cell divisions, cell differentiation, pattern formations, cell shape changes and cell movements. All of these processes are beautifully orchestrated to form the functional tissues, patterns and structures of all organisms. Traditionally, these processes of development have been mainly descriptive from experimental embryology approaches. This course will focus on the genetic and molecular analyses of how these cell behaviors occur. We will explore the approaches developmental biologists use to try and decipher the language of how cells communicate with each other during development. The molecular principles that govern development have been conserved throughout animal evolution and these discoveries have brought about a new wave of excitement in the way which we can describe developmental mechanisms. This course delves deeper than BIOL 430, which gave students a general introduction to developmental mechanisms. Subjects will be chosen based on students' interests.

This course is offered to graduate students as BIOL 955.

Term: Winter

InstructorDr. Ian D. Chin-Sang (

Co-ordinator: Dr. Ian Chin-Sang

Term offered: Winter 

Date:  TBD

Location: TBD

Method of instruction: Lectures and seminars 3 hours/week.

Student participation: Class discussion, formal lectures/seminars and an essay/review paper.

Evaluation (subject to change):

Seminars: 40% This mark is based on the research article you present. You will be graded by your fellow peers. You will be marked on your actual presentation and the seminar notes (slides) you provide to the class.

Essay/wiki: 40% This mark is based on your wiki page you maintain. Assignments such as the "News and Views" type article will be on this wiki. 

Participation/critiques: 20%-- You need to come to class to get full marks. You need to ask questions and fill out critiques of presenters.  All evaluations are due by April 13th. After April 13th you will not be able to fill in the evaluation forms.

Grad Students (BIOL 955) will do some formal lecturing to the class.

Lectures include:

Chapter 12: Nervous system development, Wolpert et al. Principles of Dev.

Chapter 15: Evolution and development, Wolpert et al. Principles of Dev.

Chapter 7 : Plant Development 

Introduction to Eco-Dev and epigenetics.