BE 159


Download a PDF of the syllabus with detailed course policies.

Course schedule

We will use current (and some classic) literature to explore concepts in signal transduction and mechanics in the context of morphogenesis. This is an area of active research, so it can be argued that the best way to learn about it is to dive into the literature.

We will cover one paper per week, and will do so in some depth. This means we are choosing depth over breadth in the course. The hope is that the papers we do read serve as case studies for more general concepts. Thus, as you encounter new systems from the massive diversity of developmental biology, you can study them with the concepts we cover in class.

The papers can be downloaded from the course website well in advance of our discussions of them. The in-class coverage of each paper begins on Tuesday, when I will give a lecture about the model system to provide you with some of the requisite background for parsing the paper. We will have an in-class discussion about the paper the following Thursday. You will further explore the papers through three or four homework assignments throughout the term.

The class will end with final projects. For the last two weeks of the course, each student will give a 15 minute presentation about a paper of his or her choosing. I must ok the paper ahead of time, and am happy to offer suggestions.

Finally, we may change the papers we study later in the course depending on how in-class discussions proceed and student interest.

Wk 1, 4/1 + 4/3 Howard, et al., Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell. Bio., 2011 | talking points Turing 1952 | Kondo and Miura 2010 | Mammoto and Ingber 2010
Wk 2, 4/8 + 4/10 Dubuis, et al., PNAS, 2013 | talking points Dubuis et al. 2013 | Gregor et al. 2007
Wk 3, 4/15 + 4/17 Sprinzak, et al., Nature, 2010 with guest Lauren LeBon | talking points Collier et al. 1996 | Lewis 1998 | Artavanis-Tsakonas, et al. 1999
Wk 4, 4/22 + 4/24 Goentoro and Kirschner, Mol. Cell, 2009 | talking points Lee et al. 2003 HW1/data (due 4/22) | HW1 solutions
Wk 5, 4/29 + 5/1 Mayer, et al., Nature, 2010 | talking points Bray and White, 1988
Wk 6, 5/6 + 5/8 Goehring, et al., Science, 2011 | talking points Munro 2006 | Pellettieri and Seydoux 2002 HW2 (due 5/8)
Wk 7, 5/13 + 5/15 Maître, et al, Science, 2012 | talking points Maître and Heisenberg 2011 | Krieg et al. 2008 | Steinberg 2007 | Steinberg 1963 | Glazier and Graner 2007
Wk 8, 5/20 + 5/22 Blankenship, et al, Dev. Cell, 2006 | talking points Kasza and Zallen 2011 HW3 (due 5/23)
Wk 9, 5/27 + 5/29 Student presentations
Wk 10, 6/3 + 6/5 Student presentations HW4 (due 6/6)