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BIOE 219: Special Topics in Development and Cancer: Evolutionary and Quantitative Perspectives (DBIO 219)

This course will serve as a literature-based introductory guide for synthesis of ideas in developmental biology and cancer biology, with an emphasis on evolutionary analysis and quantitative thinking. Instead of focusing on what we know, the goal of this course is for students to understand how we know about fundamental questions in the fields of developmental biology and cancer biology, and how we should ask good questions for the future. The students are expected to be able to read the primary literature and think critically about experiments to understand what is actually known and what questions still remain unanswered. With a syllabus that will be largely determined by the students, we aim to provide a guided tour into the process by which scientific ideas evolve, in an iterative and interactive manner. Students will also develop skills in educated guesswork to apply order-of-magnitude methodology in physics to questions in biology.

2017 Syllabus.

Sample term paper by Sasha Zemsky.


For students

Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, "To solve old problems, study new species". (link)

Uri Alon, "Why science demands a leap into the unknown". (link)

Martin Schwartz, "The importance of stupidity in scientific research". (link)

Eric Wieschaus, "Finding genes that control development". (link)

Elizabeth Gilbert, "Your elusive creative genius". (link)

Richard Hamming, "You and your research". (link)

Albert Einstein, "Principles of research". (link)