News

Hands-on Developmental Neurobiology

04/09/15

The EMBO practical course on Developmental neurobiology: From worms to mammals, took place at King’s College London from 21st June to 4th July 4 2015. Running bi-annually since 2009 and organized by the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, this course enables students to get introduced to state of the art techniques used in modern developmental neuroscience, acquire knowledge of brain development in 6 different species and interact with internationally leading neuroscientists, all in a small collaborative environment.

This fourth edition totalled 16 postgraduate students selected from over 80 applicants from across the world. The core of the course consisted of exciting daily hands-on practical sessions, led by Group Leaders and with the collaboration of PhD students, Postdoctoral researchers and technicians from the Centre, which covered the broad set of techniques and model organisms used at the MRC CDN.

"We had an excellent course this year. The students were highly motivated. They worked hard in the practical sessions and were very interactive in the seminars. But they also connected well on a personal level. So it was a lot of fun. This course is unique, since we have all the necessary expertise in our Centre. Thanks to the efforts by all the instructors, speakers and other helpers, it was a great success."

Robert Hindges, organizer of the practical course

 

Working in small groups the students learned, for example, how to perform zebrafish injections to study the dynamic aspects of the development of the nervous system as well as, how to use sophisticated imaging analysis to study how neural circuits are formed. Throughout these two weeks the students also had the opportunity to interact with our invited speakers, all international leading neuroscientists, and learn about the latest findings on the mechanisms controlling the development and evolution of the cerebral cortex, from stem cells to neuronal networks, and the gene regulatory mechanisms that control neural differentiation. Student feedback was very positive.

"The Developmental biology course was an amazing opportunity to learn from some of the more experienced groups the newest techniques in neurobiology. It was a fantastic scientific course formed by brilliant organizers, speakers, teachers and students."

Monica Pardo, University of Barcelona

 

"This two-week course consists of a well-balanced combination of classroom lectures, hands on training labwork, and guest speaker seminars. As someone who was new to the field of developmental neurobiology, this course provided invaluable opportunities to learn the basic techniques and the model organisms currently used, as well as some of the important questions that are being tackled in the field. This course also provided a unique networking environment to discuss our own research interests with course instructors, seminar speakers, and course participants, which allowed us to gather new insights and ideas to direct our future studies. I highly recommend this course to any new comers to the field of developmental neurobiology."

Xi Long, Janelia Research Campus, USA

 

"This course couldn’t have been more appropriate for me. It really facilitated the transition from a PhD on collective cell migration in zebrafish to a postdoc on development of circuit differences in flies, which I started right after the course ended. The combination of exciting practical work (really hands on!), stimulating talks and discussions and friendly atmosphere really made the course memorable. I have also already benefitted from the networking opportunity provided by the course and got some reagents for my new project!"

Erika Dona, EMBL, Germany

 

The students also had the opportunity to present their own research work during the poster sessions of the course, with Erika Dona, Vilaiwan Fernandes and Veronica Krenn being awarded the prize for best poster.

This EMBO practical course was organized by Robert Hindges, Corinne Houart, Beatriz Rico, Oscar Marin, Victoria Snowden and Stephen Franey, with the support of Stefania Boscolo, Susan Fischer, Richard Davies and the PhD students and Postdoctoral researchers from the MRC CDN.

Thank you to our sponsors who generously donated equipment and reagents for the course.