Embryology: Concepts & Techniques in Modern Developmental Biology

Course Information

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 class of students are automatically accepted into the class of 2021 and we are not taking applications at this time.

Watch the Embryology WebinarCourse Date: May 23 – June 30, 2021

Deadline: TBD

2021 Lecture Schedule (PDF)

Course Website

Directors: Carole LaBonne, Northwestern University; and David Sherwood, Duke University

Course Description

An intensive six-week laboratory and lecture course for advanced graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and more senior researchers who seek a broad and balanced view of modern issues in developmental biology.  Limited to 24 students.

Established in 1893, the Embryology Course offers integrated lectures and laboratories that comprehensively cover the paradigms, problems, and technologies of modern developmental biology cast within a comparative framework of metazoan evolution. This course has a rich history of shaping the field with six students and eight faculty becoming Nobel Laureates, and many others being prominent leaders and pioneers.  Students are exposed to a wide variety of embryonic systems including well established and intensively studied models, both genetic (e.g., C. elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish, mouse) and experimental (e.g. chick, sea urchins, frogs, ascidians).  Students will also encounter a wide range of additional models that are equally important in their own right, including locally available marine organisms that help fill in the evolutionary history of animal diversity (e.g., cnidarians, nemerteans, planarians, crustaceans, mollusks, annelids, ctenophores).  This wide coverage of metazoan phylogeny allows for a close examination of developmental strategies and mechanisms that drive evolutionary change.  Hands-on analytical and experimental techniques used to explore invertebrate and vertebrate development involve embryological manipulation (e.g., cell ablation, tissue grafting) as well as molecular genetic (e.g., RNAi, electroporation) and cell biological approaches (e.g., analysis of cell lineage and migratory behavior).  Students will apply cutting-edge microscopy and imaging technologies (e.g., confocal and 3D time lapse) using state-of-the-art instrumentation, reagents, and methods.  Conceptual topics include cell specification and differentiation, pattern formation, embryonic axis formation, morphogenesis, intercellular signaling, transcriptional regulation, organogenesis, regeneration, evolutionary developmental biology, and comparative embryology.

Financial Information: Tuition: $6,300; Room & Board estimate: $3,078 (*Actual costs may be greater based on number of nights of occupancy). The admissions process at the Marine Biological Laboratory is need-blind, meaning that we evaluate students on their merits alone, without weighing their financial situations. Financial assistance will be considered for those admitted students who are in need. Upon acceptance, students will be asked to complete a financial aid request form if they need assistance.

In 2019, 100% of those students in the Embryology course who requested financial aid received some support. The amount of financial aid available from the MBL varies by course based on funding from grants and scholarships, but typically covers 70-100% of student need.

2021 Course Faculty & Lecturers

In-person Faculty:

David Sherwood
Carole LaBonne
John Young
Sena Sarıkaya
Reiko Tomizawa
Jonathan Henry
Katrin Gross

Lisa Cameron
Michelle Itano
Abhishek Kumar
Dave Matus
Sarah Barger

Module I
Sally Horne-Badovinac
Nipam Patel
Melanie Worley
Shirin Bahmanyar
Isabel Kenny
Jayson Smith
Danielle Spitzer
Seth Donoughe

Module 2
Chenbei Chang
Peter Lwigale
Andrea Wills
Tatjana Sauka-Spengler
Tatiane Kanno
Mike Piacentino
Hannah Arbach

Module 3
Celina Julano
Leslie Babonis
Deirdre Lyons
Jack Cazet
Vanessa Barone
Dylan Faltine-Gonzalez
Carrie Albertin
Duygu Ozpolat
Karen Crawford

Zoom Faculty:

Robert Zeller
Athula Wikramanayake
Billie Swalla
Cynthia Bradham
Veronica Hinman
Jessica Feldman
Bob Goldstein
Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado
Mansi Srivastava
Rachel Smith-Bolton
Armin Moczek
Tatijana Piotrowski
Elke Ober
Crystal Rogers
Otger Campas
Scott Fraser
Roberto Mayor
Andrew Gillis
Richard Harland
Paul Trainor
Jaime Rivera
Cliff Tabin
William Browne
Neva Meyers
Mike Levine

Course Support

This course is supported with funds and equipment provided by:

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Burroughs Wellcome Fund
March of Dimes
Society for Developmental Biology
Carl Zeiss Microscopy
Chroma / 89 North
Drummond Scientific
Flamingo – involv3d
Fine Science Tools
Hamilton Thorne
Leica Microsystems
RPMC lasers – Oxxius
Sutter Instruments
Thermofisher – EVOS

Special thanks to The Company of Biologists which provides a scholarship for Embryology course students and posts blogs, videos, and photos of the course on The Node.