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The Embryology Course at the MBL

Posted by , on 7 July 2014

Right now I am attending the Embryology Course at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL). I am a graduate school student from Osaka University in Japan and I am looking for what I will do during my postdoc next year. This course supplies both lectures and experiments for various modules, including C. elegans, Drosophila, planaria, hydra and frog and many other organisms. Previously, I have only worked with mouse, so this course is a very good opportunity for me to learn many kinds of animal development.
I have already spent a few weeks here, and they have been more wonderful than I had expected. Today I want to talk about the lectures, experiments and friends I have met here.

Every morning we have a lecture from a different expert. They teach not only basic knowledge of each animal, but also discuss frontier research in their field. After the lecture, we have a research discussion. During this time, the students get to discuss the lecture with the expert and almost all students ask questions. The students have a positive attitude and this helps to further stimulate my interest. Unfortunately, one hour is not enough time for us to discuss everything. However, we have a chance to go to dinner with the lecturer and engage in further discussion of the topic. At that time we talk not only about science but our life plans, hobbies, and so on. This is a good opportunity to form a more personal and meaningful relationship.

In the afternoon, we perform experiments. To my surprise, we are able to perform whatever experiments we want. There is a protocol of course, but there is a wide variety of different experiments to perform and no restrictions. Therefore, we can make a plan of experiments ourselves, enabling us to arrange and possibly improve the experiment.
The analyzing facility is very substantial. For example, there are more than 3 conforcal microscopes, a Lightsheet fluorescence microscope, a laser ablation system and an electroporator.
In the 2nd week of the course I succeeded in the time-lapse imaging of follicle cell rotation in Drosophila eggs. Follicle cells rotate during their development. I have never worked with Drosophila so it was a little hard time to take the egg from the ovary and perform the time-lapse imaging. However, after many tries I eventually got the result. I was very happy and had a great experience.

The people in the course are from various countries, including the US, Germany, Croatia, Argentina, Taiwan and so on. We do not all study the same organism, but we all are interested in developmental biology. The students are together almost every day from morning to midnight, so we have plenty of opportunities to interact with each other and make friends. This allows me to know the research techniques and research goals of the same generation in other countries, which helps to expand my views.

I really look forward to spending the rest of the course with these students!!

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