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Biology 478

BIOL 478
Endocrinology

Catalog Entry

BIOL 478
Endocrinology
Credit Hours: (4)

Prerequisite: BIOL 232 or BIOL 322
Three hours lecture.  Three hours laboratory.

This course provides an introduction to the fundamental concepts endocrinology, including neuroendocrinology, behavioral endocrinology and metabolic regulation. The course provides an overview of hormone production, hormonal regulation, receptor mechanisms and mediating mechanisms, as well as hormonal effects on organismic systems including stress and reproductive physiology and behavior, growth, and energy regulation. The course will also address evolution and variation in endocrine function across taxa and emphasize ongoing research in the field. The laboratory component will emphasize analysis, discussion and discovery, with students participating in animal research projects.


Detailed Description of Content of Course
Lecture topics may include, but are not limited to:

I.    Classification of neurohormonal messengers
    1.    Hormone evolution
    2.    Hormones of plants
    3.    Hormones of arthropods
    4.    Hormones of vertebrates
    5.    Neuromodulators and neuropeptides
    6.    Steroid hormones
    7.    Endocrine gland anatomy and physiology
    8.    Measurement of hormones
II.    Hormonal interactions
    1.    Feedback & flexibility
    2.    Receptor physiology and functional types
    3.    Binding globulins
    4.    Aromatase and other enzymatic actions
    5.    The role of hormones in tissue organization
III.    Hypothalamic hormones
    1.    Neurosecretory cells
    2.    Hypothalamic-Pituitary Adrenal/Gonadal axes
IV.    Pituitary hormones
    1.    Hormones from the adenohypophysis
    2.    Hormones from the neurohypophysis
V.    Hormones and stress
    1.    Glucocorticoids
    2.    Chronic vs. acute expression
VI.    Reproductive hormones
    1.    LH & FSH
    2.    Androgens
    3.    Estrogens
VII.    Metabolic & growth directing hormones
    1.    Thyroid hormones
    2.    Insulin and glucagon
    3.    Leptin and ghrelin
    4.    HGH
VIII.    Hormones and water-salt balance
    1.    Angiotensin-renin
    2.    Antidiuretic Hormone


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course
The course may be taught as a lecture and/or through group-based exploratory discussion of primary literature. For each major topic  of the course students may be required to present and critique a current research article relevant to the subject in question. Additionally, students may be required to present a final project mock grant proposal, laying out a well-developed research project and including background, hypothesis, methodology and predicted results.

During laboratory sections students will learn through interactive exploration. They will be required to engage in interactive experimental design and data collection. Students will be presented with several initial topics and general questions at the beginning of the course, and given a list of laboratory supplies provided. Using both vertebrate and invertebrate models, students will design and conduct research involving manipulation and/or measurement of hormones, such as estrogen, corticosterone, insulin, juvenile hormone and thyroxine. Over the course of the semester, student groups will design, conduct, collect and report a full pilot study on their research topic of choice.

In addition, students will be introduced to modern endocrine techniques including ELISA, RIA, in situ hybridization, microarray analysis of hormone-related genetic expression, and hormonal implantation. When possible we will incorporate field trips to endocrine-related laboratories in the local area, which may include such disparate locations as research laboratories at Radford and Virginia Tech, local biotechnology companies, and medical/veterinary facilities.

The overall goal of the course is to familiarize students with the variety of topics incorporated under the umbrella of endocrinology, while using several representative topics as detailed examples. The course is also intended to excite students about research, and to give them an introduction to the living science of endocrinology.


Goals and Objectives of the Course
Having successfully completed this course, the student will be able to:

•    Describe the various hormone subsystems of vertebrate and invertebrate animals
•    Describe the  interactions of prehormones, hormones, modulators, and receptors
•    Demonstrate familiarity with current techniques in endocrine research
•    Design and conduct basic endocrinology-based experiments

Demonstrate critical analysis and discussion skills related to current topics in endocrine research


Assessment Measures

Student comprehension will be assessed through quizzes and exams.  Exams will be designed so that the students must demonstrate synthesis. Students will also be assessed on their presentations and class discussion participation.  Laboratory performance will be assessed based on demonstration of planning, design, and interpretation, rather than the “success” or “failure” of the student initiated research project.         


Other Course Information


Review and Approval

05/2011