LMP1110H: Neural Stem Cells - brain development and maintenance

Who can attend

No specific courses are required, however, we prefer background knowledge in molecular genetics and biochemistry (such as LMP301H1 / BCH242Y / MGY340H1).

Enrollment is open to University of Toronto graduate students and capped at a maximum of 20 students.

Course description

The major goal of this module is to introduce basic concepts of how neural stem/precursor cells both build and maintain the brain and to use these systems, more broadly, as a platform to learn advanced genetic techniques (such as single-cell RNA-sequencing, viral barcoding, and other lineage tracing techniques).

Each lecture will have the following structure:

  • In the first half, lecture material will cover aspects of neural stem cell biology in the developing or mature brain and introduce a different advanced genetic technique (using primary literature which students will read prior to the lecture).
  • In the second half of each lecture, assigned student discussion leader(s) will lead a discussion of the data contained in assigned scientific papers and reveal how this technique impacted our understanding of neural stem cell biology.

The course instructor will lead the discussion in Lecture 1 to scaffold the expectations of student discussion leader(s) in subsequent Lecture weeks.

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Describe basic concepts of neural stem cell biology in brain development and in the mature brain.
  • Describe the underlying principles of advanced genetic techniques and how these are being applied to the study of neural stem cell biology.
  • Effectively communicate and apply concepts of neural stem cell biology and advanced genetic techniques to primary scientific literature.
  • Produce an academic quality ‘mini-grant’ proposal by applying the concepts learned in this course.

Course coordinator

Dr. Scott Yuzwa

scott.yuzwa@utoronto.ca

lmp.grad@utoronto.ca for administrative queries.

Timings and location

This course is offered every year in the Fall session.

Thursdays 10:00 am beginning October 14, 2021.

Location: Synchronous online delivery (Zoom)

Evaluation methods

Final exam – 45%

Participation in class – 10%. You will be assessed based on your participation in the discussion of published papers in the second half of each lecture, attendance, and syllabus quiz.

Final assignment – 45%

Your final assignment will be discussed and assigned during Lecture 2.

You will be asked to prepare a short ‘mini-grant’ proposal to either:

  1. apply an advanced genetic technique (either from those discussed in class or chosen by the student) to their own current research project (technique must not be currently used in the student’s thesis project) or;
  2. propose to address a current gap in neural stem cell biology (either in the developing or mature brain).

This proposal must be a maximum of 5 pages in length including references.

Proposals will be evaluated based on the strength of the rationale, experiments proposed, and interpretation of anticipated experimental outcomes.

Schedule

A more detailed course syllabus will be provided to registered students in Quercus. Students should refer to the latter (and Quercus) for all relevant course information for the Fall 2021 section of LMP1110H.

Date

Topic

Instructor

October 14, 2021

Introduction to the course

Adult brain: relevant structure and function

Technique 1

Single-Cell RNA sequencing

Scott Yuzwa

October 21, 2021

Neural Development I

Technique 2

ATAC-seq

Discussion of Final Assignment

Scott Yuzwa (and potential guest lecturer)

October 28, 2021

Neural Development II

Technique 3

Genetic Clonal Labelling

Scott Yuzwa

November 4, 2021

Neural Stem Cells and their unique niche environments

Technique 4

In Situ Spatial Labelling

Scott Yuzwa

November 11, 2021

Embryonic origins of Adult Neural Stem Cells

Technique 5

Genetic Barcoding Strategies

Scott Yuzwa

November 18, 2021

Final Examination

Concluding remarks: What does the future hold?

Scott Yuzwa