GEN 800 Seminar Courses


Spring 2014

GEN 800 Section 001


Course Title: Canine Genetics
When: Fridays, 10:00 - 11:20 am
Where: 1425 Biomedical Physical Science Building (except Jan 10 and Feb 21 will meet in 2245 BPS)

Course Coordinators: Drs. Andras Komaromy, Simon Petersen-Jones, Pat Venta

Course Description:

The purposes of the course are (1) to provide an understanding of the unique aspects of one of the most popular companion animals (dogs!) as a model system for understanding genetics, and (2) to provide more depth on theoretical aspects of population and molecular genetics and how these concepts can be applied in actual situations in order to find the DNA variations that underlie heritable phenotypic variations within vertebrate (and other) organisms.  Topics will range from the concepts in population genetics of effective population size, founder events, and selection, to molecular topics such as comparative genomics, gene therapy, and the impact of retrotransposons on phenotypes.  These topics will be addressed while examining an interesting range of canine phenotypes such as dog coat colors and patterns, body size, skeletal structures, as well as heritable problems such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA; a cause of heritable blindness), heart disease, and metabolic disorders.  The format of the course will be short overviews on the relevant genetic concepts (along with associated reading assignments), and student presentations on more focused topics that show how these concepts have been used to develop a better understanding of the identity and function of genes that underlie heritable phenotypes (for example, the seminal discovery in dogs that identified the pathway involved in dog and human narcolepsy), and how they have been used to provide new treatments for undesirable conditions for both dogs and humans (e.g., for the development of actual gene therapy treatments for conditions such as PRA and the human equivalent, retinitis pigmentosa).

GEN 800 Section 002


Course Title: Application of Genetics in Human Medicine
When: Wednesday, 11-1 pm
Where: 2235 Biomedical Physical Sciences

Course Coordinators: Dr. Sainan Wei


Human Medical Genetics focuses on human genetics from the standpoint of medical applications such as clinical diagnosis, disease prognosis, and treatment algorithms. Genetic tests are playing an increasingly important role in human health care with over 2000 tests now available. Analysts forecast the Global Genetic Testing market to grow at 9.45 percent over the period 2012-2016. Doctors use genetic tests for many reasons including finding genetic diseases in unborn babies (prenatal screening and diagnostics), finding genetic diseases in newborns (newborn screening and diagnosis), determining if people carry a gene for a disease and might pass it on to their children (reproductive health), screening embryos for disease (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis), making a diagnosis in a person who has disease symptoms, figuring out the type or dose of a medicine that is best for a certain person (pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics), testing for genetic diseases in adults before they cause symptoms, and so on. Laboratory Geneticists play unprecedented roles in these fields.

This seminar course will provide an alternative professional view for graduate students. Participants in this course will discuss common genetic diseases, their genetics and testing, and impact of the testing result on health. Participants will learn 1) alternative career path including requirements, training, credentials in health care as a biological scientist particularly as a clinical laboratory geneticist; 2) scope of genetic diseases and their testing; 3) college policy statement and lab test guidelines; 4) ethical aspects of genetic testing.


GEN 800, Section 003 / VM 820-Section 301

Course Title:  Channelopathies and disorders of ion regulation
Sp14 March 15-May 3rd. Times/days TBA

Instructor: Dr. Bill Atchison

Course Description:
Dysfunctions of ion channels are known as channelopathies. They can result from genetic and/or immunological disorders, and are identifiable as the cause of a number of human diseases. Channelopathies affect neurons, muscle (skeletal and cardiac), endocrine and the immune system. They are often associated with cancer (paraneoplastic). They also serve as unique opportunities to study the role of specific proteins in ion homeostasis and excitability.

This course will entail student presentations on ion channelopathies or other disorders of ion regulation. Reading and discussion of the primary literature will be required. The course times will be arranged.

Areas to be covered:

  • Cardiac channelopathies
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Immune-based channelopathies
  • Voltage-gated ion channelopathies
  • Ligand-gated ion channelopathies
  • Endocrine basic channelopathies

Enrollment will be limited to 10, and Consent of Instructor is required. 


GEN 800, Section 004 / CMB 800, Section 1

Course Title:  Lipid signaling in animals and plant

Coordinator: Susanne Hoffmann-Benning (

Participating Faculty:    Susanne Hoffmann-Benning (
                                    Barbara Atshaves (

Evaluation:    Attendance; presentation of papers, participation in discussion

Tentative class time:  Wednesdays 6:00 – 7:30pm; Room 208 Biochemistry
First Meeting Wednesday, January 8 2014 at 6:00pm; Room 208 Biochemistry

The class will cover all aspects of lipid signaling in animals and plants: An introductory lecture about general lipid structure and function as well as current methods of lipid analysis and visualization will be given by the instructor (S. Hoffmann-Benning).  The class will be split into lipid signaling in plants (1st half; Susanne Hoffmann-Benning) and in animals (2nd half; Barbara Atshaves). We will discuss recent publications about signaling lipids, their receptors and signaling cascades, as well as transcriptional regulation through lipids. In the plant section, this will be followed by the effect of mutations in lipid synthesis, lipid receptors, or components of the signaling cascade and how they relate to development, stress response and disease. Large-scale genomics and flux analysis to assist in crop improvement will also be discussed. Students will give individual presentations of the assigned readings and participate in the discussion.