Science at the heart of medicine

8008 Special Topics in Molecular Genetics

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The aim of the course is to acquaint students with scientific literature and progress in selected focused areas of biological research. The topics to be treated will vary from year to year depending on the interests of the teaching faculty. Each year, several topics will be covered in short modules. Lectures may be presented, but a primary focus will be discussion of important background articles and current research papers. Through in-depth analysis of the literature on specific topics, the student is expected to gain a broadened knowledge, increasing appreciation of the process through which scientific understanding develops, and an improved ability to critically read and analyze the original research literature.


Host-microbe interactions (Sridhar Mani). There are over a trillion different commensal microbes expressing 100-fold more genes than its mammalian host, yet the mechanisms governing how microbes form communities, co-exist, and “talk” to its mammalian counterparts remains largely unexplored. We will examine our current understanding of the molecular mechanisms that govern microbe-microbe, host-microbe; microbe-host relationships, as revealed in recent papers.

Modeling human disease with pluripotent stem cells (Wei Liu) Pluripotent stem cells emerge as powerful tools in modeling human development and inherited disease. Using neural and retinal tissues as models, the sessions will first introduce the principles of stem cell-based modeling, then review recent advances in the field, and lastly discuss current challenges and future perspectives.

Single-cell or bulk, what you need to know before designing your transcriptomic study. (Masako Suzuki) The goal is to learn to design effective functional transcriptomic studies. We will learn basics of designing transcription analyses including statistical considerations, and advantages/disadvantages of single-cell and bulk RNA-seq assays.


PREREQUISITES: Molecular Genetics or equivalent.

SUITABLE FOR 1ST YEAR STUDENTS: Appropriate for 1st year students with prerequisite background. Attendance and participation by more senior students, postdocs and faculty is welcomed.

STUDENT ASSESSMENTS: Students enrolled for credit will be evaluated according to their attendance and participation in discussion. Class size is limited.