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S01 - Developmental biology II

2023-2024 planning

Master in Life Sciences, ENS
Bio-M1-S01 | Developmental Biology II
Year and Semester : M1 | S1
Duration : 4 weeks | 48 hours
First and last day of class : from 3rd to 26th October, 2023
Hours : 9am-12pm, 2pm-5pm (Tuesdays and Fridays)


Iris Salecker, PU, Département de Biologie, ENS (course organizer)




Morphogenesis | Multicellularity | Stem cells | Cell differentiation | Apoptosis | Cell migration | Patterning | Regeneration | Organogenesis | Gametogenesis | Organoids | Evo-devo | Model and non-model organisms | Plant development.

Course prerequisites

There are no specific requirements to attend this module. However, participants should bring plenty of curiosity and an inquisitive mind ! Some background in cell, molecular and developmental biology, as well as genetics is recommended.

Course objectives and description

How can we define developmental biology ? On one hand, it can be considered as the complex and dynamic process by which a single cell, the fertilized egg with one genome will give rise to hundreds of very different specialized cell types. These organize themselves and adopt specific forms within organs of the right size to finally give birth to an individual, impressively complex adult organism. But on the other hand, it is equally a process shaped over generations during evolution and in interaction with the environment, that led to the amazing diversity of living organisms. How this is achieved is a fascinating question. Moreover, discoveries in development biology are key to understanding diseases, including neurodevelopmental disorders and cancer, and thus have direct medical implications.

Aims : This module has the aim to introduce students to advanced concepts of developmental biology research. Leading scientists from diverse institutions in and close to Paris, Lyon and London will provide introductions into the background of their respective research areas.
They will share insights about their own exciting studies to give participants an impression of their research topics as it happens at the bench.
They will cover the fundamental mechanisms orchestrating morphogenesis, the emergence of multicellularity, patterning, stem cell biology, cell fate specification, cell migration, apoptosis, organ formation, regeneration, evo/devo and plant development.

The course will explore the use of different model organisms, but also non-model organisms, essential to pinpointing general principles within apparent diversity. We will discuss recent state-of-the-art techniques, including Crispr/Cas9 genetic manipulations, that make it possible to find answers through the synthesis of knowledge obtained at different scales, by combining imaging, genetics and genomics and molecular biology approaches.

Finally, the course has the aim to convey the notion that Developmental biology is a very active discipline at the intersection of many other disciplines that continues to transform our thinking as advances in technology are opening unprecedented doors for future studies.

Format of module

Courses will be held primarily "en présentiel". Activities involve lectures, journal club presentations and discussions, as well travaux personnels à distance.


Grades will be based on a « journal club » (i.e. presentation of an article followed by a discussion, 40%), a Crispr/Cas9 exercise (25%), 4 weekly course question exercises (25%) and course participation (10%).

Course material

Pdf versions of Powerpoint presentations and material for course work will be provided and accessible online via Moodle.

Suggested readings in relation with the module content

• Primary literature and review articles will be provided via Moodle.
• Some chapters in relevant textbooks (Michael Barresi and Scott Gilbert : Developmental Biology ; Lewis Wolpert, Cheryll Tickle, Alfonso Martinez Arias : Principles of Development ; Alessandro Minelli : Understanding Development).

* Image credits : Drawing by Iris Salecker