BIOL 588 (Fall)

Advances in Molecular/Cellular Neurobiology

(Not offered in 2019-2020)

S. Carbonetto
(514) 934-1934 ext. 44237
K. Hastings
(514) 398-1852
3 credits (1.5 - 1.5-6)
BIOL 300 and BIOL 306, or permission of instructor.
The main objectives of the course are to expose final year neurobiology undergraduates and graduate students in neuroscience disciplines to:

1) Recently published studies in which molecular biological research methods have provided newinsight into the role of specific genes and proteins in the nervous system.

2) The critical analysis of scientific research papers in an organized round table discussion setting.

The lecture topics vary somewhat from year to year but the following are almost certain to be covered in one form or another in each year: gene expression in the nervous system, gene and protein isoform families and alternative RNA splicing, membrane protein synthesis, neuronal growth factors, synaptogenesis, cell adhesion molecules/extracellular matrix, cytoskeleton, ion channels, signal transduction systems and molecular genetics of neurological mutants in man and experimental animals.  Students develop skills in understanding and communicating scientific information.

There is no required textbook. A neuroscience text with a strong cell/molecular component, such as Fundamental Neuroscience (Zigmond et al, Academic Press) would be useful, as would a good cell/molecular biology text such as Molecular Biologyof the Cell (Alberts et al, Garland Publishing) or Molecular Cell Biology (Lodish et al, W.H. Freeman & Co.)
Following a short series of introductory lectures, the course consists of an alternating series of topic-focused lectures (Thursdays) and corresponding discussion sessions (Tuesdays). Each lecture will cover the basic principles of some aspect of cell/molecular neurobiology. A recently published research article related to the lecture topic will be assigned, and the paper will be discussed in detail in the next discussion session. During discussion sessions students are asked to interpret specific Figures and Tables in the research articles in terms of experimental technique, conclusions drawn, and relevance to the overall point of the paper. Towards the end of the term the class has an informal meeting with a guest scientist who is an invited seminar speaker at the university and whose recent work they have already discussed as a group.  Besides providing the investigator’s own viewpoint of specific neurobiology issues, this meeting is an opportunity to consider broader research issues including career development and the behind-the-scenes thinking and work that underlies published scientific papers.

 Participation in discussion sessions counts for three-quarters of the grade.  A class test will count for the remainder.

McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (see for more information).

Last update: March 25, 2019