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Undergraduate Teaching 

MVST IB Option - Developmental Biology: Concepts to Clinic

Course Organiser: Dr Rob White (


The course presents an opportunity to explore current understanding of Developmental Biology and its relevance for medical practice today, and in the future. Building on the foundation course you received last year, we will examine the key mechanisms at work in building the human body and consider the consequences of their failure, and the strategies for treatment.

In general, each lecture will identify a key developmental mechanism, explore our understanding of this process deriving from work on animal model experimental systems, describe the relevance of this process in human development and examine the implications of this understanding for the identification, management and treatment of developmental disorders.

The lecture course is supported by a practical offering hands-on exploration of developmental processes and congenital disorders. In addition, in the Clinical Forums, a paediatrician and an obstetrician provide insights into the clinical management of congenital disorders, with the discussion of case studies that allow you to make the link between the understanding of the basic processes of development and current clinical practice.

Course Aims

The course aims to provide you with a basic understanding of:

the principles of human development, morphogenesis and growth how abnormal developmental processes may occur the clinical implications of certain commonly encountered forms of abnormal human development.

Course Learning Objectives

By the end of this course of lectures, practical and recommended reading, and building on your knowledge of human anatomy previously acquired in MSTIA, you should understand: how common developmental strategies are used in building different parts of the body how the main structures and organs of the body develop the main types of developmental and neonatal diseases and their prevalence the processes affected in certain examples of abnormal development the potential for diagnosis and treatment for such conditions, including the possibility of prenatal assessment and termination of pregnancy the role of experimental (including animal) models in understanding and treating human developmental abnormalities.

Method of assessment: This Option will be assessed by standard essay questions. Candidates will be required to choose two questions from five.