Developmental and Stem Cell Biology MajorCurriculum

The development of a living organism from a single cell is a spectacular process.  It represents a masterpiece of temporal and spatial coordination of gene expression, of cellular events and communication between many different cell and tissue types.

Aim of  research and teaching in the Major „Developmental and Stem Cell Biology“  is to gain understanding of the mechanisms that guide a fertilized egg and the resulting daughter cells through cell divisions and complex morphogenetic rearrangements, with crucial checkpoints in time and space to ultimately emerge the body axes as well as complex structures such as eyes, brain or flowers. The structures of the adult organism need not only to be established, but are also maintained throughout adult life by the activity of stem cells in their respective niches.

Organismal development and the role of stem cell mediated growth and homeostasis is in the research focus of the scientists participating in the Major „Developmental and Stem Cell Biology“.

First semester – Frontiers in Biosciences I & II

[30 Credit Points]

Lectures

5 weeks in each module (topics are listed below)

Participants: all students of the Master Molecular Biosciences program
Performance record: written exam

Seminars

2 x seminars (run in parallel with practical courses):

Frontiers I Seminar:

Methods in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology

Coordinators: J. Wittbrodt, J. Lohmann

Frontiers II Seminar:

Breakthroughs in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology

Coordinators: T. Holstein, I. Lohmann
Participants: all students of the DSCB Major
Performance record: 100% presentation, participation

Practical Courses

Frontiers I + II Courses (combined):

2 x 3-weeks lab rotations on RNA/Imaging and Proteins/Imaging

Coordinated by Sarah Jaber, I. Lohmann
Participants: all students of the DSCB Major
Performance record:  50% lab protocol + 50% lab performance

Frontiers in Biosciences I & II - Lectures

 

The 1st semester consists of two modules "Frontiers of Biosciences I & II", which provide a solid background in advanced molecular biosciences. The formal course work for each module consists of a lecture with accompanying tutorial (5 weeks) and a practical course with accompanying literature seminar. Topics of the “Frontiers in Biosciences” lectures can be found below. These lectures are mandatory for students from all Majors of the Master of Molecular Biosciences program.

Topics of Frontiers in Biosciences I - Lecture

Week 1: Proteome & Interactome

Coordinator: Mogk

Protein structure, modifications, qualiy control, protein complex and signaling, cell cycle

 

Week 2: Genome Expression

Coordinator: C. Clayton

Transcriptional control, mRNA processing, mRNA translation, mRNA decay, non-coding RNA

 

Week 3: Metabolome

Coordinator: R. Hell

Enyme kinetics, control of enzyme activity, flux of metabolites

 

Week 4: Genome Structure & Evolution

Coordinator: H. Kaessmann & J. Lohmann

Genome structure, genes and their evolution

 

Week 5: Cell Organisation & Dynamics

Coordinator: K. Schumacher

Protein sorting and intracellular dynamics, cell motility, cytoskeleton

 

 

Topics of Frontiers in Biosciences II - Lecture

Week 1: Core Competencies

Coordinator: A. Maizel

Week 2: Developmental and Stem Cell Biology / Cancer Biology

(2 parallels)

Week 3: Infectious Disease / Evolution and Ecology  

(2 parallels)

Week 4: Neuroscience / Molecular Plant Sciences

(2 parallels)

Week 5: Molecular Cell Biology / Systems Biology

(2 paralles)

Frontiers in Biosciences I & II - Practical Courses

The practical courses in the 1st semester consist of 2 lab rotations (each 2 weeks). During each rotation, different techniques frequently used in the analysis of developmental and stem cell processes will be applied (see table below).

Topics of the Lab Rotations

Lab Rotation - RNA/Imaging

  • RNA extraction
  • PolyA and RNA
  • Determination of RNA concentration
  • Reverse transcription
  • Real Time-PCR
  • Quantitative PCR
  • RNA cleanup
  • In situ hybridization
  • In vitro RNA synthesis
  • DIC/Nomarski microscopy
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Confocal microscopy
  • optional: any other type of microscopy

Lab Rotation - Proteins/Imaging

  • Expression of recombinant proteins
  • Functional protein assay
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • SDS Page
  • Western blotting
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • DIC/Nomarski microscopy
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Confocal microscopy
  • optional: any other kind of microscopy

Second semester – Focus Bioscience I & II

[30 Credit Points]

Lecture     

5 weeks in each module (topics are listed below)

Participants: all students of the DSCB Major
Performance record: written exam

 
Seminar     

 

2 x seminars (run in parallel with practical courses):

Focus I Seminar:

“Peer-Review” in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology


Coordinators: I. Lohmann, J. Wittbrodt

Focus II Seminar:

“Grant Writing”, Essential Topics in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology


Coordinators: J. Lohmann, T. Holstein
Participants: all students of the DSCB Major
Performance record: 100% presentation

 
Practical Course     

Focus I + II Courses:

2 x 3-weeks lab rotations in Research Group of choice
(groups have to be selected from Lecturer list in the Major “Developmental and Stem Cell Biology”. You have to choose different lectureres for each practical).

Performance record:  50% lab protocol + 50% lab performance
 

In the 2nd semester the teaching is specific to the Major “Developmental and Stem Cell Biology” and the two modules “Focus Bioscience I & II” provide a broad program that deals with Developmental and Stem cell Biology from the level of molecules and cells to the level of whole organisms.

All students of the Major “Developmental and Stem Cell Biology” visit two lecture series,  “Genetics and Epigenetic” and “Stem Cells”. These lectures are supported by practical courses with topics reflecting the particular research interest of the various Lecturers.

Focus I Lecture

Coordinator: J. Wittbrodt

Week 1:

Genetic Model Systems, Genetic Screens and Mapping, Genetics of retinal Development I+II, Genetic tools for Clone Generation

Week 2:

Genetic tools for Lineaging, Epigenetics in Plant development, Signals and networks in stem cells, Cellular Heterogeneities and Molecular Noise

Week 3:

Developmental genetics of plants: patterning the root, Genetic and Epigenetic Regulation mediated by non-coding RNAs, Comparative Evolutionary genetics I + II, Trangenesis Approaches

Week 4:

Genomic Engineering in mouse and non-model organisms, Population Genomics and WGA Genetics, Developmental Genetics of Drosophila I + II, Immunogenetics

Week 5:

Developmental Timing – the Genetics of the Somite Segmentation Clock

Focus II Lecture

Coordinator: J. Lohmann

Week 1:

Cell Cycle Regulation, Asymmetric Cell Division, Stem Cell Regulation in Plants I + II

Week 2:

Stem Cell Regulation in Plants, Stem Cell Systems in early metazoans, Stem Cell Signaling in Drosophila

Week 3:

Stem Cells in higher eukaryotes, Neuronal Stem Cells, Epigenetic control of Stem Cell Fate

Week 4:

Epigenetic Control of Stem Cell Fate, Stem Cells in humans, Stem Cells in cancer

Focus Bioscience I & II - Practical Courses

In the “Focus Biosciences I & II” practical courses, the students get familiar with a broad spectrum of methods used in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology, e.g. advanced live cell imaging technology (confocal and 2-photon laser scanning microscopy, FRET and FRAP analysis), techniques for the expression of recombinant gene products, promoter analysis, transgenesis, protein-protein and protein-DNA interaction analysis, bioinformatics, image analysis and modeling approaches.

Practical courses within the Major “Developmental and Stem Cell Biology” are offered by groups from Centre for Organismal Studies (COS) and other research institutions in Heidelberg. Practical courses in Focus Bioscience I & II have to be done in one of the research groups of Lecturers.

You have to choose different lectureres for each practical (see “Lecturers” page).

Third semester – Biolab & Working in Bioscience

[30 credit points]

Seminar     

“Biolab” Seminar:

Lab seminar in Research Group of choice
(groups have to be selected from Lecturer list in Major “Developmental and Stem Cell Biology”)

“Working in Bioscience” Seminar:

Lab seminar in Research Group of choice
(groups have to be selected from Lecturer list in Major “Developmental and Stem Cell Biology”)

Performance record:

oral lab report

Practical course     

“Biolab” Course:

1 x 6-weeks lab rotations in Research Group of choice
(groups have to be selected from Lecturer list in Major “Developmental and Stem Cell Biology”. You have to choose different lectureres for each practical).

“Working in Bioscience” Course:

1 x 6-weeks lab rotations in Research Group of choice
(selection of groups see below.)

Performance record: 

50 % lab protocol + 50 % lab performance


During the 3rd semester you take part in the modules “Biolab” and “Working in Bioscience”. These modules deepen your knowledge and experience in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology and prepare you for the master thesis project.

Like in the previous semester you choose two labs for six-week practical courses, where you participate in the current research projects and attend the seminars of your host lab. It is possible to do these lab rotations during the semester breaks and thus complete the master program within 18 months.

 

For the lab rotations the same groups as listed for the modules “Focus Biosciences I & II” practical courses are available. One of these lab rotations has to be within the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology major, whereas the other can be done in an external research institution. Heidelberg offers a vast array of opportunities, please refer to the links on the right.

Alternatively students can take advantage to gain experience outside of Heidelberg and are highly encouraged to ask our lecturers for contact possibilities with national and international collaboration partners. All external practicals have to be registered in advance with your major director and require grading by one of your major lecturers. Keep in mind that the designated internal examiner for an external lab rotation cannot be someone you already did a practical with in that semester.

Fourth semester – Master Thesis

 [30 Credit Points]

The master studies will culminate in a Master Thesis project in the lab of one of the Lecturers. Here you will pursue your own project for six months within the research field of your host group, which you will document in your thesis and present in your final defense. The oral defence takes about 45 minutes. The presentation of the important results of the Masters Thesis should take 20 minutes at most.

Every lecturer can only take up to 2 students for a master project for each year. Please give us feedback with whom you want to do your project as soon as you plan it!

The overall mark for the module masters thesis/oral defense is calculated using the marks of the oral defence and masters thesis. The masters thesis is worth 2/3, the oral defence 1/3 of the overall mark. Both the masters thesis and the oral defence must be passed, with a mark of at least “sufficient” (4.0).

For detailed information regarding legal regulations and grading see on the webpage of the bioscience faculty.