Genes and Development

Winter 2016 quarter

Taught by

genetics, molecular biology


One year of laboratory biology and one year of chemistry.

The union of a sperm and egg initiates the process of development in which a single cell—the fertilized egg—eventually produces hundreds of different cell types that form distinctive tissues and organs. If the developmental program is encoded in the genome, how are the key regulatory genes expressed in the right place and at the right time, and what do these genes do? Genetics provides a powerful approach for studying complex biological pathways. By analyzing mutations that result in developmental defects, geneticists can not only learn  how normal genes control cell growth and cell communication, but can also gain insights into the logic of how an organism establishes its major body axes and achieves spatial patterning.

This advanced program will provide an overview of the genetic strategies used to study questions in developmental biology. How do we make and isolate mutations that affect a complex process? How do we analyze the order and location of gene action in developmental pathways? How do we identify the gene that corresponds to a mutant phenotype and analyze its function at the molecular level? We will focus on several model organisms, including the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. We will also consider several developmental mechanisms underlying evolutionary change.

A key aim of this program will be the analysis of experimental design and logic. Emphasis will be placed on reading and interpreting primary research papers, in both seminar discussions and written critiques. There will be a significant laboratory component applying contemporary genetic and molecular biological techniques to the study of development. We will also consider some of the philosophical and ethical implications of this scientific work by reading and discussing novels that explore these topics.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

genetics, developmental biology, molecular biology, and medicine.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day

Advertised schedule: First winter class meeting: Monday, January 4 at 9am (Sem II D2107)


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Upper Division Science Credit

Upper-division science credits will be awarded to students who complete the program requirements successfully.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Junior–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Signature Required

Students will need to demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts in molecular and cell biology by completing an application that will be available after October 1 from the faculty ( ).  Students who submit applications before November 20 will be notified of a decision by the Academic Fair in Week 9.

Course Reference Number

Jr - Sr (16 credits): 20138

Go to to register for this program.

Need Help Finding the Right Program?

Contact Academic Advising for help in answering your questions, planning your future and solving problems.