The primary objective of the proposed 2.5 week course is to provide state-of-the-art training in modern and emerging experimental approaches to study the nervous system of a major invertebrate model system, Drosophila melanogaster. The course on Drosophila Neurobiology: Genes, Circuits &Behavior is designed to introduce students to a wide variety of topics and techniques, including the latest approaches to study fly nervous system development, connectivity and behavior. Daily research seminars present comprehensive overviews of specific subfields of nervous system function and behavior, or focus on specific techniques and approaches to study diverse aspects of fly neurobiology. The course takes full advantage of the genetics of the fly as an experimental system for analyzing neural development, neuronal physiology and behavior. The course emphasizes the relevance of this powerful model system to advancing our understanding of the function and dysfunction of human brain. Instructors are chosen on the basis of their contributions to and knowledge of the field, each instructor providing in-depth expertise in a specific area that complements the others. In turn, the instructors invite lecturers who have made significant contributions in their fields t give up- to-the-minute reports on current research. The trainees are chosen by the course faculty from larger pools of applicants and range from advanced graduate students to principal investigators. Because of the short duration of the courses, senior as well as junior individuals can attend, and receive a short, intense period of training in an environment remote from other demands on their time and attention. This neurobiology laboratory course also provide an unusual opportunity for scientists to come up to speed in an advanced invertebrate model within neuroscience and to apply the concepts and techniques they learn to their own research interests. The course makes particular efforts to include a diverse group of participants, being particularly mindful of the inclusion of women, US minorities and a good balance of national and international scientists.
For more than a hundred years, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has proved a powerful tool in helping scientists to understand how genetics works in animals. In the last couple of decades, the ability to rapidly breed and mutate these little flis has been used to shed light on the structure and function of the fly brain. Sophisticated genetic experiments have provided considerable information on the genes and molecules that are important in helping to build the brain, on the neuronal circuits and connectivity that form the brain's anatomy, and on the complex behaviors that are encoded within that anatomy. Furthermore, the model system can help us understand how these molecules, circuits and behaviors are altered or influenced as the animal adapts to and learns about new environments, how neuronal damage and/or loss leads to disease, and how brain function can be altered upon exposure to chemicals implicated in environmental perturbation or addiction. Understanding how these systems work in Drosophila has enormous relevance to our efforts to elucidate how these things function in higher animals, with consequences including how we think about neurological disease, brain evolution and other major themes of research in humans including alcohol and drug abuse. The proposed short course aims to provide intense and in-depth training in this important model system to advanced students and established investigators.
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