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BIOL 411

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Medical Embryology (Biology 411)
Spring 2014


Instructor: Dr. James A. Strauss      T, R  2:30-3:45PM

114 Mueller Lab                                102 Thomas


OFFICE HOURS M,W 9:30-10:30 or by appointment


Date                       Lecture No.                                 Topic                                      Reading

Jan.          14                   1              Introduction, Mitosis, Meiosis                              Ch. 1, (20)

                16                   2              Mitosis/Meiosis Male Repro System                     Ch.1,(20)  

                 21                  3              Male Repro System, Spermatogenesis                  Ch. 1,2

                23                   4              Male Repro System                                             Ch. 1,2

                28                   5              Film: Vasectomy/Tubal Ligation Reversal

                30                   6              Female Repro System, Oogenesis                        Ch. 1,2

Feb.           4                   7              Female Repro System, Oogenesis                         Ch. 1,2

                 6                    8              HIV/AIDS

                11                   9              HIV/AIDS            

                13                  10             FIRST LECTURE EXAM


                18                  11             Film: (Nova: 18 Ways to Make a Baby)                                    

                20                  12             Fertilization/Egg Types/Cleavage                           Ch. 3

                25                  13             Blastulation                                                         Ch 4

                27                  14             Gastrulation/Germ Layers                                     Ch. 5   

Mar.           4                  15              Gastrulation/ Placenta                                         Ch. 6, 7

                 6                  16Twinning/RHFactor                                                                 

                10-14                              SPRING BREAK!


                18                  17             Nagele's Rule /Development Time Scale              Ch. 5 (1, 20)

                20                  18                SECOND LECTURE EXAM


                25                  19             Neurulation                                                        Ch. 8, 17 

                27                  20             Embryonic Folding/Respiratory System                Ch. 8, 10

April          1                    21             Circulatory System                                            Ch. 13

                 3                   22             Circulatory System                                             Ch. 13, 9

                 8                   23             Head, Neck, Branchial Arches                             Ch. 9, 15 

                10                  25             Skeletal System/Limb Development                     Ch. 16, 19 (21)

                15                                  THIRD LECTURE EXAM


                17                  26             Film: Ultrasound/ Surg for Diaphragm/Conception to save sibling

                22                  27             GI System                                                                          Ch. 11

                24                  28             Urogenital System                                                              Ch. 12

                29                  29             Urogenital System/Film: Ambiguous Genital Dev.                 Ch. 12

May          1                  30             Brain and Nervous System                                               Ch. 17, 18

May          5-9                    FINAL EXAM Scheduled DURING FINAL EXAM WEEK

Course Text: The Developing Human, Moore and Presaud, 9th edition, 2012, Saunders Publishing.

Biology 411 Study Guide and Lecture Note Packet, 15th Edition, Strauss 2014, (optional) 

Available only at the Student Bookstore, downtown  


Course Description: 

This course offers students an overview of Human Embryology, including reproductive physiology, fertility issues, the events and timeframes characterizing human embryological development, the structure and function of developing human body systems, and relevant clinical correlations associated with disease and malformations.  


Learning Objectives:  


Embryology begins with cells resulting from reproductive systems.  For that reason, student will learn/review the cell cycle, the events characterizing mitosis and meiosis, and the anatomy, physiology, and endocrine regulation of male and female reproductive systems.  Because sexually transmitted diseases are in epidemic proportions worldwide, we will spend several lectures discussing some of the major sexually transmitted diseases.  A major course focus is an overview of and timeframe for the basic processes of embryological development (fertilization, cleavage, blastulation, gastrulation, neurulation, organogenesis). The second half of the course will focus on the development, structure, and function of the major body systems.  In addition to "normal" development, lectures will describe developmental errors, disease processes, and their clinical consequences, which will include some graphic images.  Because of the experimental importance of other vertebrate systems, this course will also discuss development of frog, chick, and mouse embryonic systems. Please be aware that this course will feature discussions and explanations of topics in developmental biology that some students might view as controversial including comparative anatomy and evolution, contraception, assisted reproductive techniques, cloning, potential medical applications of stem cells, and abortion, relative to developmental timeframes.  The goal of such discussions will be to educate and give perspectives on these issues, but not to indoctrinate a particular viewpoint or philosophy.


Course Preparation:  


The lecture text, The Developing Human (Moore and Presaud), was chosen because it focuses on human development and is a standard text used by many medical school programs.  Its strengths include excellent diagrams, key word highlighting, and clinical correlation discussions.  You will be held responsible for the material in this text.  Some lecture topics and details are not covered by the text.  I will supply students with additional readings and handouts for these topics and it is expected that you pay particular attention to the details presented in these lectures.  It may also be useful to consult a basic physiology text for the reproductive physiology discussed in the first portion of the course, such as Review of Medical Physiology by Ganong or Human Physiology by Silverthorn.  There are several physiology texts on reserve in Pattee under Biology 472.  Written explanations and additional diagrams for other vertebrate embryological systems can be found in Patten's Foundations of Embryology (Carlson, 1988) and Developmental Biology, (Gilbert, 1994) on reserve in Pattee.


Course Grading: 

The Biology Department has and enforces an Academic Integrity Policy.  You are responsible for reviewing this policy and following the conduct criteria.  A complete document for review  is available on the Eberly College of Science Website (  Your final course grade is based on 225 possible points.  If necessary, the final course grade will be adjusted to a class mean of 75%.  Exams 1-3 will consist of 50 multiple choice, matching, diagram questions. The Final Exam will consist of 75 multiple choice, matching, and diagram questions and will be cumulative.  Five concept check quizzes will also be given during the semester, each worth 10 pts, and likely administered in an on-line format.  Dr. Strauss reserves the right to change examination dates.  If this becomes necessary, students will be given a 1 week notice of any schedule change.

First Exam:                 50 points

Second Exam:            50 points

Third Exam:                50 points

Concept Quizzes (5)  50 points

Final Exam                 75 points

                                 275 points


Penn State Grade Scale:

Percentage Grade

92-100       A

90-91         A-

87-89         B+

82-86         B

80-81         B-

77-79         C+

70-76         C

60-69         D

below 60    F




Dr. Strauss reads e-mail daily and students can use this communication to obtain brief answers to limited questions on course content (laundry lists will not be addressed) as well as alert Dr. Strauss to attendance issues, exam scoring errors, or personal issues dealing with the course.  Students are encouraged to visit Dr. Strauss in person to deal with more extensive study, concept, grading, advising, or personal issues.  Dr. Strauss also answers his phone!  If you send Dr. Strauss an e-mail, please put “Bio 411” in the subject, so your e-mail is not discarded as spam.  Turn around time is usually within a day; be aware that if your e-mail was not answered, it could be that it was inadvertently discarded by a filter, so please try again.  Please consider that e-mail questions asked the evening before an exam might not be answered before taking the exam; so plan to ask questions in a timely manner!