This proposal requests partial support for an intensive two-week laboratory/ lecture course for advanced graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and independent investigators that focus on the development and genetics of zebrafish with special emphasis on the nervous system. In its 13th year it is worldwide the only zebrafish course. The course covers time proven as well as novel technologies geared towards their application in zebrafish. Mornings and afternoons are devoted to laboratory exercises, and the evenings to lectures and discussions. In the first week the students learn basic techniques that are standard to any zebrafish laboratory: microscopy, cryopreservation, RNA and antisense morpholino injections, cell transplantation, whole-mount RNA in situ hybridizations and antibody staining, specimen mounting and imaging. A second focus of this first week is zebrafish genetics, with an interactive round-table discussion on mutagenesis screens, and on molecular-genetic mapping/positional cloning, which includes a web-based tutorial on mining the zebrafish genome. The second week of the course focuses on zebrafish nervous system development and function, although many of the techniques are applicable to studying the development of other organ systems. Students learn a variety of techniques for labeling and transplanting cells, in order to assess gene function, cell fate, or cell behaviors. An emphasis during this week is on live cell imaging using various confocal microscopes. The final days of the course teach techniques for studying visual and motor behaviors, both at the levels of genes and of neural circuits. Interspersed with the laboratory sessions, are "round table" sessions that teach the practical side of zebrafish research (building and maintaining a zebrafish facility). Finally, each of the ~20 course faculty presents a 1-hour evening seminar centered on their current research, yet oriented towards the student's lab sessions. These highly interactive seminars are considered by many students the highlights of the course as they frequently nucleate hour-long scientific discussions about outstanding biological questions, and the faculty's thinking behind the science.
Zebrafish has developed into one of the most prominent systems in which to study the genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying embryonic development, regeneration and disease. This proposal requests partial support for an intensive two-week laboratory/ lecture course for advanced graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and independent investigators that focus on the development and genetics of zebrafish with special emphasis on the nervous system. In its 13th year, it is the only zebrafish course worldwide, and has always received rave reviews by students, of which many consider their experience in the course as instrumental for initiating their own research program using this important model.