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CAMB/INSC 597 Developmental Neurobiology

Wednesday and Friday,11:00AM – 12:30; rm. 1101, BRB II/III

Mandatory Organizational Meeting: September 14th,

11:30am in 1101 BRB II/III

Course Director: Michael Granato (

General Description: The goal of this course is to examine the principles underlying nervous system development. This is not a survey course in Developmental Neurobiology. Rather, the course will focus on selected topics, for which we will discuss the molecular and cellular strategies employed in different model organisms.

Fall 2007 Topics: Formation of Neural Tissue; Specification of Neural Cell Types; Cell Migration; Axon Guidance; Synapse Formation.

Textbooks: No specific textbooks are required. The following texts are useful resources. Developmental Biology by Scott Gilbert; Development of the Nervous System by Sanes, Reh, and Harris;  and Molecular and Cellular Approaches to Neural Development edited by Cowan, Jessell, and Zipursky.

Format: Each class is 1.5 hours in length. During the first hour, an assigned paper will be discussed in detail. During the last 30 minutes, faculty will introduce methods, concepts, and background information pertinent to the paper that will be discussed at the following meeting.

While faculty will provide guidance during the discussion, students will be primarily responsible for presenting and discussing the papers.  So that every participant can contribute thoughtfully to the discussion, you should come prepared to answer these questions:

1) What was the main finding of the paper (3-4 sentences)?

2) What experiment produces the authors’ most convincing data?

3) What experiment is the least convincing or weakest? Why?

4) What hypothesis derived from this paper would you set out to test next, and how (3-4 sentences)?

You will submit written answers to these questions at the beginning of each class, so do not try to read the paper just before class.

Grading: A) Participation in paper presentation and discussion: 50%. During the semester, you will receive feedback on your participation. B) Two 2 page research type proposals, 25% each. Each proposal will be on a topic of your choice that has already been discussed in the course. Guidelines on the proposal as well as an ‘example’ are be posted on the Blackboard.

Course Web page: This course will utilize Penn’s “Electronic Blackboard” web software at: All materials and updates will be posted here. This is a secure site requiring your PennKey. A guide on how to get up and running with the Blackboard can be found at If you have trouble with access, please contact the support staff at

Syllabus: Developmental Neurobiology (Fall 2007)

Wednesday and Friday,11:00AM – 12:30; rm. 1101, BRB II/III

Date Topic Faculty
Fri, 9/14 Organization Meeting Michael Granato
Wed, 9/19
Fri, 9/21
Wed, 9/26
Formation of Neural Tissue Michael Granato

Fri, 9/28
Wed, 10/3
Fri, 10/5

Specification of Neural Cell Types Part I Jonathan Raper
Wed, 10/10
Fri, 10/12
Wed, 10/17
Fri, 10/19
Specification of Neural Cell Types Part II Greg Bashaw
1st Written Proposal Due Oct 24
Wed, 10/24
Fri, 10/26
Wed, 10/31
Cell Migration Part I Jeff Golden
Fri, 11/2
Wed, 11/7
National Neuroscience Meeting - No Class  
Fri, 11/9
Wed, 11/14
Fri, 11/16
Cell Migration Part II Greg Bashaw
Wed, 11/21
Fri, 11/23
No Class - Thanksgiving  
Wed, 11/28
Fri, 11/30
Wed, 12/5
Fri, 12/7
Synapse Formation Rita Balice-Gordon
Wed, 12/12 Wrap Up all faculty
2nd Written Proposal Due Dec 14