CB 399: Fifty Shades of Fur: The Genetics of Pigmentation in Mammalian Species Fall 2012

Intellectual Unit:

 Fifty Shades of Fur: The Genetics of Pigmentation in Mammalian Species
Nanocourse Lecturers: Dr. David Fisher, Dr. Hopi Hoekstra, Dr. Leah Brault
Curriculum Fellow: Dr. Leah Brault, lbrault@genetics.med.harvard.edu

 Have you ever wondered why your hair is brown and your cousin’s hair is red?  Have you ever wondered why a single litter of puppies can produce coats of many different colors, or why horses show such a broad range of coat colors and patterns?  What makes the spots on an animal?  Why are mice in one environment primarily one color, and those in another environment another color?  Are some coat colors or patterns associated with disease or other defects?  This nanocourse will explore the genetics of pigmentation in mammalian species, from humans to wild animals to our domesticated companions.  We will discuss what forces – natural and artificial – have acted on various animal species to produce the variety of colors and patterns we see around us, and reveal the benefits and detriments of particular pigmentation alleles to the overall health of these species.   


First Session: Thursday, September 27, 2012 2:00 – 5:00 pm
Location: TMEC Building, Room 209
Second Session: Thursday, October 4, 2012 2:00 – 5:00 pm
Location: TMEC Building, Room 209


ASSIGNMENT (for registered students only):

Students enrolled in this nanocourse will need to prepare a PowerPoint presentation on a pigmentation-related topic of their choice.  Students may choose a particular gene involved in pigmentation, a pathway of genes, a particular phenotype or disease related to pigmentation – the choice is completely open. Students may choose to present on how their gene(s) or phenotype affects a single mammalian species, how it varies between species, or how it varies in different environments. These presentations will be given to the group of registered students and course faculty on October 4th.

Students may work alone or are welcome to pair up with another student to do this assignment.  Presentations should be between 8 and 10 minutes long for a single presenter and between 15 and 20 minutes long for two students working as a pair. This assignment should not be a summary of a single paper, but a gathering of information from many sources; be prepared to answer questions afterward!  We encourage you to be creative and have fun with this assignment – choose something that is particularly interesting to you!  Please send the topic of your presentation to Leah Brault (lbrault@genetics.med.harvard.edu) by Monday, October 1st.


 DROP DEADLINE: Thursday, September 20, 2012