Syllabus

During the semester we will cover the exciting advances in the genetics and molecular biology of the inner ear. For the non-molecular biologists in the class, we will begin with a few lectures on basic molecular biology and genetics, covering both theory and techniques. We will also include an inner ear physiology review. We will study techniques for identifying "deafness genes" as well as genes and proteins recently identified as being critical for proper inner ear function. We will cover topics relating to inner ear development and hair cell regeneration. Additional lectures will explore recent advances in the field, studying such topics as syndromic and nonsyndromic hearing loss and the molecules that are responsible for hearing loss, such as connexins, myosins, transcription factors, extracellular matrix proteins and ion channels. We will also discuss techniques, such as the use of embryonic stem cells, used to further investigations into inner ear function. The lead faculty will deliver approximately half of the lectures, with the remaining lectures given by inner ear/deafness research experts from the Boston area.

The course this year will include a hands-on laboratory component, in which each student will perform basic molecular biology techniques for gene discovery. The students' research projects will be presented in class at the end of the semester. In addition, each student will present for discussion papers that cover in depth some of the topics discussed in class.

Lab
The course this year will include a hands-on laboratory component, in which each student will perform basic molecular biology techniques for gene discovery. Each student will have his/her own mini-research project. Results of students' research projects will be presented in class at the end of the semester.
Student Lead Discussion Sessions
Twice during the semester, each student will present for discussion papers that cover in depth the topics discussed in class. These presentations are designed to familiarize students with techniques and strategies used by investigators to study the molecular biology of the auditory system.
Grades
Grades will be assigned based upon student participation in class, student presentations of lab work and journal articles, and a final exam.
Recommended Text
For coverage of basic molecular biology, we recommend Molecular Biology of the Cell by Bruce Alberts et al., 2002, Garland Science.