Signalling in Embryonic Development and Stem Cells

Aim and content

This course is free of charge for PhD students at Danish universities (except Copenhagen Business School), and for PhD students at graduate schools in the other Nordic countries. All other participants must pay the course fee.

Anyone can apply for the course, but if you are not a PhD student at a Danish university, you will be placed on the waiting list until enrollment deadline. This also applies to PhD students from Nordic countries. After the enrollment deadline, available seats will be allocated to applicants on the waiting list.

Learning objectives
A student who has met the objectives of the course will be able to:
a. Describe key developmental signalling pathways and their interactions.

b. Explain commonalities and differences between embryonic development and stem cells.

c. Plan, conduct, analyse, and draw conclusions from gain- and loss-of-function experiments in embryos and stem cells.

d. Handle, differentiate, and analyse embryonic stem cells.

e. Handle zebrafish embryos and analyse developmental phenotypes.

Theoretical introduction of key signalling pathways and different modes of cell-cell signalling occurring in embryos and stem cells (e.g. Wnt, Nodal, Bmp etc.).

Introduction to basic concepts of stem cell derivation, differentiation potential and ethics.

Practical introduction into embryonic stem cells (ESCs):
- Hands-on experience w. handling of cells in the laminar flow-hood.

- Differentiation of ESCs into tissue specific fates (embryoid bodies) by culturing with agonists and antagonists of signalling.

- Analysing and evaluating results, drawing conclusions and planning possible follow-up experiments.

Practical introduction into zebrafish embryos:
- Hands-on experience w. handling of zebrafish embryos.

- Testing roles of signalling pathways in embryonic development by treatment with agonists and antagonists of signalling.

- Analysing and evaluating results, drawing conclusions and planning possible follow-up experiments.

8-10 students minimum - 12 students maximum; prior experience with cell culture and a basic understanding of embryology and gastrulation is a major advantage.

English (main language; clarifications in Danish are possible).

Lectures on concepts of intercellular signalling, signalling pathways and embryonic development and stem cell biology (introductory lectures and colloquia by course organizers and planned are 2 lectures by international speakers).

Presentations introducing the theory of the experimental work.

Practical laboratory experiments - working in teams of 2 students and small groups

Presentation of results.

Hours: 9 – 18 Monday to Friday

Relevance to graduate programmes
The course is relevant to PhD students from the following graduate programs at the Graduate School of Health and Medical Sciences, UCPH:

Molecular Mechanisms of Disease

Course director
Palle Serup, Professor, DanStem University of Copenhagen

Elke Ober, Associate Professor, DanStem University of Copenhagen

Mette C. Jørgensen, Assistant Professor, DanStem, University of Copenhagen.

Gelo Dela Cruz, FACS specialist, DanStem, University of Copenhagen.

2-4 additional teaching assistants to be named closer to the starting date.

Course secretary
MoMeD Secretary (

2-6 November 2020.

Course location
DanStem (Panum bygning 6, levels 4 and 5)

Please register before 2 October 2020.

Admission to PhD students from Danish universities will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and according to the rules in force.
Applications from other participants will be considered after the last day of enrolment.

Note: All applicants are asked to submit invoice details in case of no-show, late cancellation or obligation to pay the course fee (typically non-PhD students). If you are a PhD student, your participation in the course must be in agreement with your principal supervisor.