Okinawa institute of Science and technology (OIST), situated on Okinawa Island is an ideal and inspiring place to discuss and learn science. The student participants and mentors of the developmental neurobiology course (July 17- 31, 2011) were from every corner of the globe. The course began with a wonderful talk about history of developmental neuroscience by David Van Vactor. M.A Price spoke about the signaling mechanisms during early development of Drosophila embryo. James Briscoe from MRC London discussed about brain and neural tube development in vertebrates. Explained, “How does neurogenesis begin and how do neural stem cells maintain their fate”. Chris Q. Doe from Oregon USA very elegantly described the mechanisms involved. Prof. Ischiro Masai from OIST Japan explained factors involved in spatial and temporal pattern of neurogenesis in Zebra fish retina. Kozo Kaibuchi from Nagoya University, Japan presented how internal and external signals regulate neuronal polarity. How do axon find their right partners and make neural connections, were the major focus of Elke Stien, Hitashi Sakano and J Huang. Students very enthusiastically and actively discussed their work too during the poster sessions in between. After two days of intense lab work at the main campus, participants could also visit the labs of various groups. Personally talk to researchers and use the lab facilities for experimental work. Drosophila and Zebra fish were mainly used during the practical sessions in the course. Students learned dye injection into embryonic Zebra fish eye to visualize the connections in wild type animals and then compare with the mutant animals. They got opportunity to do live imaging using Zebra fish and Drosophila embryos. Dissection of embryonic and larval Drosophila nervous system was also performed during the session. Participants could visualize and experience good microscopy by trying out their samples on microscopes from the Institute imaging facility. We also utilized and tried out different kinds of microscopes, which were provided by various companies in the workshop. Image analysis soft wares were also used for data analysis.
Second week of the course started with session on axon targeting and synapse specificity. Akiko Nose from Tokyo University taught how the connections are made and then refined to form a proper functional synapse. He showed some nice movies using optogenetics as a tool. The molecular mechanisms for dendritic self-avoidance and tiling, how is dendritic field size regulated and how are these maintained over time were the major themes of the Prof. Yuh Nung Jan’s talk. He also explained how fruit fly maggots avoid sunlight and described in detail how class IV dendritic arborisation neurons with elaborate dendrites tiling the entire body wall, act as light-sensing antennae. Van Vactor from Harvard school of Medicine shed light on the posttranscriptional machinery of growth cone involved in regulation of synapse assembly. He also discussed his recent findings from the lab about modelling spinal muscular atrophy, a severe neurogenic disease in Drosophila. Vijay from NCBS India explained, how the behaviour output is generated, once the neural circuits are established. He illustrated various assays to quantify behaviour deficits in mutant animals. At the end of the session Hitoshi Okamoto from RIKEN brain Institute described how Zebra fish could be used as a model to study vertebrate behaviour. He explained various behaviour assays to study learning and memory in Zebra fish. We relaxed and also got chance to show our non-scientific talents in the party and dinner at faculty house located nearby the seaside house. We also visited Castle and Aquarium during the course. After fun and enjoyment we attend talk by David Feldhiem, who described how graded expression of Ephrins is involved in generation of topography in vertebrate visual system. Bernando sabatini discussed about various high resolution imaging techniques utilised to study active synaptic connections. In the last of course Takeharu Nagai described broad range of fluorescent probes to image the synaptic structures and how to choose a good fluorescent probe for your experiments. Prof Hideyuki Okano discussed about iPSCs and their use in treating various neurological disorders and injury. Prof. Lee Rubin at the end of the course demonstrated how we could do large-scale drug screening in the lab in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies to treat challenging nervous system disorders. Last but not least, at the end of the last supper, we enjoyed the traditional Japanese dance and Judo Karate. In short this course was full of fun and learning.
You can read more about OIST and Course here
and watch this video also.