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Sex and Chromosomes: The Genetics and Biochemistry of Development

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

Did you ever wonder how a male knows to be male, not female? How does the female know to stay female? What does sex have to do with any of that? Can the male/female development process be altered? That is, can we re-engineer our genome? If so, how do we turn on and off the right genes at the right time to make sure this happens? And if we can control how and when to turn our genes on/off, how do we use this to treat diseases, like HIV and cancer?

This course will focus on fundamental concepts of gene regulation with a brief glimpse into development in model organisms. Key concepts to be elaborated on include: gene regulation across the genome, targeting of proteins to DNA, genome engineering, and development. We will study how the ability to target proteins to specific DNA across the genome impacts diseases such as cancer, and how development can be related to sleep.

We will take a particular look at gene regulation (gene and protein interactions) on chromosomes and how this gives rise to different sexes. We will highlight systems and/or mechanisms that are conserved between model organisms, such as fruit flies, worms, and mammals. A brief history of how certain model organisms have taken precedence in molecular developmental research will be reviewed to shed light on the limitations of findings with regards to translation for human application. Emphasis will be placed on the most studied organisms: fruit fly, worm, and mouse.

We will be taking fieldtrips to labs that utilize Drosophila and C.elegans for research. Students will learn how to distinguish the male from female sex of Drosophila using a microscope. Also students will gain exposure to how recording videos of C.elegan behavior can tell us about development.

This course will help students understand how basic science concepts can be translated into therapeutic discovery and how fundamental processes required in development can be related to diseases and sleep. Such exposure could help guide students’ choice of course work in college if they are interested in further studies or research related to life and/or physical sciences.

Additionally, this course will have guest talk(s) from current or recent PhD graduates and Post-doctoral fellows of Brown University. This will present course participants with unique opportunities to interact with and ask questions of the PhD fellows concerning their trajectory into science and their current field of research.