Special Topics Courses

These intensive educational programs, one to four weeks long, provide experience in specialized research techniques. Lecture and laboratory courses in topics of current interest are also available.

Analytical & Quantitative Light Microscopy
Directors: Jagesh Shah and Justin Taraska
A comprehensive and intensive course in light microscopy for researchers in biology, medicine, and material sciences. This course provides an in-depth examination of the theory of image formation and application of video methods for exploring subtle interactions between light and the specimen.

Biology of the Inner Ear: Experimental and Analytical Approaches
Directors: Paul Fuchs and Stefan Heller
Assistant Director: Jennifer Jones Rowsell
The Biology of the Inner Ear (BIE) course has adapted the intensive and focused approach that typifies MBL courses to provide students with the capacity to address important problems in auditory and vestibular research. Students with backgrounds in biological and physical/computational sciences and scientists new to investigations of the inner ear are particularly encouraged to apply.

Brains, Minds and Machines
Directors: Gabriel Kreiman and Tomaso Poggio; (L. Mahadevan, honorary director)
The problem of intelligence – how the brain produces intelligent behavior and how we may be able to replicate intelligence in machines – is arguably the greatest problem in science and technology. To solve it we will need to understand how human intelligence emerges from computation in neural circuits, with rigor sufficient to reproduce similar intelligent behavior in machines. Success in this endeavor ultimately will enable us to understand ourselves better, to produce smarter machines, and perhaps even to make ourselves smarter. Today’s AI technologies, such as Watson and Siri, are impressive, but their domain specificity and reliance on vast numbers of labeled examples are obvious limitations; few view this as brain-like or human intelligence. The synergistic combination of cognitive science, neurobiology, engineering, mathematics, and computer science holds the promise to build much more robust and sophisticated algorithms implemented in intelligent machines. The goal of this course is to help produce a community of leaders that is equally knowledgeable in neuroscience, cognitive science, and computer science.

Computational Image Analysis in Cellular and Developmental Biology
Directors: Gaudenz Danuser, Khuloud Jaqaman, Steve Altschuler, and Lani Wu
This 10 day course offers theory and hands-on training in the design and implementation of image processing software required for the quantitative and mechanistic analysis of light microscopy data in cellular and developmental biology. An additional subject in the course will be software design, addressing both the implementation of optimized algorithms and sharable code, including programming in teams. This course is targets students with fairly advanced knowledge of programming.

Frontiers in Stem Cells & Regeneration
Directors: Jennifer Morgan and Gerald P. Schatten
The Stem Cells and Regeneration Course (formerly known as FrHESC) is a dynamic, evolving laboratory and lecture course that includes the complete array of biological and medical perspectives from fundamental basic biology of “stemness” and mechanisms of regeneration through evaluation of pluripotent stem cells for therapeutic benefit.

Gene Regulatory Networks for Development
Directors: David McClay and Isabelle Peter
A 10-day advanced course on gene regulatory systems as they pertain to development. The course is comprised of morning lectures followed by discussions; afternoon computation practicals, research clinics, systems assembly projects; and wet lab demonstrations of gene regulatory perturbation analysis in vivo. Faculty are leading experts in analysis of development at a systems level.

Immunohistochemistry & Microscopy
Directors: Eduardo Rosa-Molinar and Charles W. Frevert

Course History: The Histochemical Society (see http://histochemicalsociety.org/) developed and began teaching an immunocytochemistry and immunohistochemistry (IHC) course in 2008. Initially offered as a one-day workshop at the 2008 and 2009 Experimental Biology meetings in San Diego and New Orleans, respectively, the first Histochemical Society (HCS) hands-on immunohistochemistry and microscopy (IHCM) course was held at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA in 2010. In 2013, IHCM became a Special Topics Course offered and managed by the MBL Education Department. HCS members continue as directors and faculty of the course, providing a high level of IHC knowledge and microscopy expertise in order to assist participants at all levels of the course. Using the intensive and focused approach that distinguishes MBL courses, IHCM provides participants technical and methodological capabilities and knowledge to solve important fundamental problems in biology and biomedical sciences.

Course Goal(s): The goal of the IHCM course is to provide participants in-depth theory of and extensive hands-on experience with IHC techniques as well as theory and hands-on experience with a broad range of microscopic imaging techniques. The course emphasizes hands-on experience, troubleshooting, and the exchange of ideas between and among faculty and participants. The IHCM course will enable participants to independently carry out IHC and imaging in their laboratories and to critically evaluate and troubleshoot problems using IHC and microscopy techniques. The interplay of theory, hands-on experience, and discussion is central to this course that serves advanced undergraduates, graduate students, laboratory technicians, postdoctoral students, and new and established faculty/research clinicians. Students from groups underrepresented in science may apply for financial support for travel-related expenses and course registration (the application is here). Travel awards are also available for young histochemists in training, working either toward a bachelors, masters/doctoral degree or are in post-doctoral fellowships, to attend the course through HCS (see http://histochemicalsociety.org/Awards.aspx) and the American Society for Investigative Pathology (see http://www.asip.org/awards/sobel.cfm).

Methods in Computational Neuroscience
Directors: Michale Fee and Mark Goldman
Animals interact with a complex world, encountering a wide variety of challenges: they must gather data about the environment, discover useful structures in these data, store and recall information about past events, plan and guide actions, learn the consequences of these actions, etc. These are, in part, computational problems that are solved by networks of neurons, from roughly 100 cells in a small worm to 100 billion in humans. Careful study of the natural context for these tasks leads to new mathematical formulations of the problems that brains are solving, and these theoretical approaches in turn suggest new experiments to characterize neurons and networks. This interplay between theory and experiment is the central theme of this course.

Molecular Mycology: Current Approaches to Fungal Pathogenesis
Directors: Damian Krysan and Xiaorong Lin
An intensive course designed to train advanced graduate students, post-docs, and independent investigators in different molecular methods used to study human fungal pathogens, and the models at the forefront of research on the mechanisms that underlie fungal diseases and their treatment.

Physical Biology of the Cell
Directors: Rob Phillips and Hernan Garcia
This course will explore the description of a broad array of topics from modern biology using the language of physics and mathematics. This course is aimed at those interested in learning more about how to construct theoretical models of biological systems as well as the use of computational tools to simulate and test the predictions of those models, but who may not have used their quantitative skills as often as they might have liked.

Optical Microscopy & Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences
Directors: Robert Hard and Hari Shroff
This course is designed for research scientists, postdoctoral trainees, and advanced graduate students in animal, plant, medical, and material sciences. Non-biologists seeking a comprehensive introduction to light microscopy and digital imaging will benefit greatly from the course. Both theoretical and practical fundamentals are stressed. An understanding of the basic principles of optics and/or some previous experience with light microscopes and imaging is highly desirable.

Seminar in the History of Biology
2016 Seminar: Why Marine Studies?
Directors: John Beatty, James Collins, Jane Maienschein, and Karl Matlin
The MBL-ASU History of Biology Seminar is an intensive week with annually varying topics designed for a group of no more than 25 advanced graduate students, postdoctoral associates, younger scholars, and established researchers in biology, history, philosophy, and the social sciences.

Strategies and Techniques for Analyzing Microbial Population Structures (STAMPS)
Directors: Mitchell L. Sogin and David B. Mark Welch
The rapidly expanding flow of information from next generation DNA sequencing platforms has fueled healthy debate about best practices for data analysis while at the same time building a user demand for tools that can address important questions in microbial ecology. The STAMPS course consists of lectures by experts in the analysis of molecular datasets and hands-on tutorials in use of computational packages by their designers, and emphasizes discussion and the exchange of ideas between faculty and students. The course serves graduate students, postdoctoral students and established faculty from around the world.

Summer Program in Neuroscience, Ethics, & Survival (SPINES)
Directors: Keith Trujillo, Jean King and Edward Castañeda
This course integrates scientific research with professional development and is targeted to groups underrepresented in neuroscience as well as those who share the goal of enhancing diversity in the scientific workforce. All costs for taking this course, including travel, room & board, and tuition are covered by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Workshop on Molecular Evolution
Director: David Hillis
The Workshop on Molecular Evolution at Woods Hole presents a series of lectures, discussions, and bioinformatic exercises that span contemporary topics in molecular evolution. Since its inception in 1988, the workshop has encouraged the exchange of ideas between leading theoreticians, software developers and workshop participants. The workshop serves graduate students, postdoctoral students and established faculty from around the world.

Zebrafish Development and Genetics
Directors: Corinne Houart, Sharon Amacher, and Erez Raz
An intensive two-week course for advanced graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and independent investigators that will focus on the development and genetics of zebrafish. Participants will learn fundamental and state of the art techniques tailored to a broad range of zebrafish research through hands-on experience. Designed for participants from all areas of biology, laboratory exercises are designed to convey general principles and concepts.

Discovery Courses
The MBL offers advanced, graduate-level courses in embryology, physiology, neurobiology, microbiology, reproduction, and parasitology for six to eight weeks each summer.