Course Description

Stem cells provide the basis for cellular diversity in multicellular organisms and have enormous therapeutic potential in regenerative medicine. The course will introduce third year students to the differences and similarities between stem cells from sponges to mammals, compare their diverse contributions to development, the molecular and genetic mechanisms that regulate them, and potential clinical applications.

Course format:

There will be 11 two-hour lectures with one term test over a 12 week period. Each week will also have a 1-hour tutorial. The course will focus on the stem cells in non-mammalian and mammalian organisms and their contributions to several early developmental events. The role of stem cells in mammalian embryonic and postnatal development and the latest research in cell-based therapeutic applications and challenges remaining will also be topics for discussion.


  1. Properties of stem cells: division self-renewal and differentiation
  2. Porifera (sponges), Cnidaria (hydra) and Platyhelminthes (flatworm) stem cells.
  3. Germ line stem cells in invertebrate genetic models:
    Caenorhabditis elegans (nematode), Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly).
  4. Stem cells during embryonic neurogenesis (Drosophila) and retinal development (Danio rerio, Zebrafish)
  5. Mamalian embryonic stem cells
  6. Stem Cell Niches – Tissue Microenvironments and Organoids 
  7. Mouse and human Induced pluripotent stem cells
  8. Human adult stem cells
  9. Regenerative therapies: progress and challenges as well as the ethical and political issues.




Prof. J. Mitchell

Course Administrator

Nalini Dominique-Guyah
RW 535

Contact Hours

24L, 12T

Required Text(s)/Readings

No textbook required, readings will be assigned during the course.

Recommended Text(s)/Readings

5th edition of Molecular Biology of the Cell, Alberts et al. is a recommended text to review cell and molecular biology concepts discussed in the course.

Evaluation (Subject to change)

Assignments and tests worth a total of 60%
Cumulative final exam worth 40%

Additional Information

Lecture and other relevant course documents will be posted on Quercus.

Last updated on June 26th, 2023