BIOL 558, Stem Cells and the Physiological Environment, will be an important addition to the curriculum of the Department of Biological Sciences at USC for several reasons:
1) Provide a survey of adult stem cell populations. During the lecture-based portion of the course, fundamentals of stem cell biology will be covered, allowing students to gain an understanding of this unique cell type. Seminal papers in the discovery and analysis of stem cells will be used as the lecture material. The similarities and differences between different stem cell populations that support adult tissues within and across organisms will be emphasized, allowing students to gain an appreciation for the critical roles stem cells play in maintaining tissue homeostasis and damage repair.
2) Introduce the variety of model organisms used by research scientists. Stem cell-supported tissues in the following organisms will be discussed: plants (Arabidopisis thaliana), worms, (Caenorhabditis elegans and Schmiditea mediterranea), insects (Drosophila melanogaster), fish (Danio rerio), and mammals (Mus musculus and Homo sapiens). The particular strengths for each in addressing a biological questions will be emphasized.
3) The majority of the course’s graded work centers on development of critical thinking and oral presentation skills. During the seminar-style portion of the course, students will learn how to dissect the primary literature by determining why and how particular techniques are used, analyzing and evaluating data, assessing interpretations, and proposing future studies. Students will design presentations that effectively establish the background information and highlight the important experiments. The primary goal of these activities is for students to gain an appreciation for the efforts of basic and clinical/applied research scientists that have provided textbook material.