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Reproductive Biology
December 3 - 7
João Ramalho-Santos
Place: CNC Seminar Room/Anfiteatro de Farmacologia (Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Coimbra- Pólo I, 1º Andar)
This Course will touch a few of the most intriguing areas related to Reproductive Biology, starting with an overview of Gametogenesis, Fertilization and Early Development, and proceeding with discussions of new and controversial topics, notably epigenetic inheritance via sperm-borne RNAs, imprinting in the germline, non-canonical formation of gametes and other possibilities of somatic cell nuclear transfer, embryonic stem cell culture, pluripotency and differentiation. Clinical and ethical implications related to these issues will be permanently in the background. Schedule includes Lectures, informal discussions, and discussions steered by students.

Invited Lecturers
Maria de Miguel (Hospital Universitario La Paz, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain)

Eduardo Ruiz-Pesini (University of Zaragoza, Spain)

Miguel Ramalho-Santos (University of California, San Francisco)


December 3
Introductions and assignments
Primordial Germ cells
(Maria de Miguel)
Regulation of sperm motility (Eduardo Ruiz-Pesini)

Afternoon Guest Lectures
The Y Chromossome and male Infertility
Susana Fernandes
Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto - (sf@med.up.pt)
Cell polarity during folliculogenesis and oogenesis: relevance for assisted reproduction
Carlos Plancha
Instituto de Histologia e Biologia do Desenvolvimento Faculdade de Medicina de Lisboa e CEMEARE - Centro Médico de Assistência à Reprodução, Lisboa - (cplancha@fm.ul.pt)

December 4
Sperm motility as a model to study population genetic variants in the mtDNA
(Eduardo Ruiz-Pesini)
PGCs and Cell Engineering (Maria de Miguel)
Student Discussions

December 5
Fertilization and Activation of Development
(João Ramalho-Santos)
Student Discussions

December 6
Embryonic Stem Cells: Biology and Applications

(Miguel Ramalho-Santos)
Afternoon Guest Lectures
Pharmacological and Functional characterisation of cardiomyocytes derived from human embryonic stem cells
Marta Brito-Martins
Imperial College, UK - (marta.martins02@imperial.ac.uk)
Human embryonic stem cells for applications in regenerative medicine
Lino Ferreira
MIT and Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology - (lino@MIT.EDU)

December 7
Student Discussions
Guest Lecture - Preimplantation genetic diagnosis
Vasco Almeida
Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto - (valmeida@fc.up.pt)

16.00- CNC Seminar
Transcriptional Regulation of Embryonic Stem Cell Pluripotency
Miguel Ramalho-Santos

1.     Gametogenesis
1.      Organization and function of germ cells and the regulation of Meiosis.
2.      Architectural changes during spermiogenesis
3.      Gamete heterogeneity
4.      Primordial germ cells and the colonization of the mammalian embryo.
Fertilization and early development
5.      Interaction between mammalian gametes: Homing, recognition, fusion, blocks to polyspermy and activation of development
6.      Inheritance during fertilization: What comes from where?
7.      Role of sperm RNA in sperm quality and epigenetic transmission of information
8.      What can go wrong and why? Human (In)fertility
2.     From Pluripotent embryonic stem cells to gonads
1.      Embryonic stem cell derivation and characterization. Issues at stake
2.      The cell biology of embryonic stem cells.
3.      Primordial germ cells as pluripotent stem cells
4.      Adult testis as a source of pluripotent Stem Cells?
5.      Somatic cell nuclear transfer techniques to address infertility issues and genetic modifications of the germline
6.      And how important is (Bio)Ethics in all of this?
Organization and Goals
The Course will be organized in standard fashion. There will be lectures (open to the general public), which we hope can have an informal format, and Journal Club-like Discussions with pre-assigned papers. Those are open to graduate students.
All students will have access to papers and are expected to have minimal insights into all of them beforehand (the key words here are “minimal” and “all”…). Students will NOT be asked to present any given papers formally (i.e., PowerPoint presentations), or in detail. Since last year this was understood as being an optional recommendation, which led to some confusion, this time I want to be very clear: no PowerPoint presentations. They tend to slow things down, force students to focus on only one paper, students spend way too much time preparing them (often missing lectures just before their presentation), they tend to serve as props/memory aids, and, above all, the students will do plenty of them throughout the Program.
However, students will be assigned one paper, which will represent the pivotal work of her/his Post Doc or PhD (just concluded), i.e., the students will assume that this is “their” work, which they have just published. Each student will first introduce the general points of the work to her/his classmates, then orally discuss what she/he would do next in terms of career development. In other words: which experiments would be important to do next and which directions the project would take (or should not take). In short, what an outline of their first independent research proposal/grant/job talk pitch might look like. The topics selected for the papers will be related to subjects not discussed in depth in the formal lectures. Students will also have to hand in a short (repeat: “short”) one-page summary/Abstract (A4, Times 12, space and a half between lines, margins of at least 2 cm) of their project proposal.
Student assignments (not necessarily in order of Discussion) are available online. Also available will be other bibliography suggested by lecturers. Other Graduate students that wish to take the course for credit must contact the coordinator for an assignment.


Ana Sofia Azevedo

Ana Sofia Cabral

Filipe Leal

Gil Cunha

Joana Marinho

João Santos

Ligia Silva

Manuel Barroso

Nélio Gonçalves

Sara Figueiredo

Sueli Marques

Susana Louros

Extra Bibliography



Montiel Sosa 2006


RB MRS CS 2007

Retro PNAS

Ruiz Pesini 2000

Ruiz Pesini 2007
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