The Genetics Era: Finding Genes for Human Behaviour and Disease
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Area of Study
Taught In English
Recommended U.S. Semester Credits3
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units4
Hours & Credits
This course will consist of ~14 meetings. The first meetings will provide an introduction of the foundations of behaviour genetics research, starting with twin and family studies (e.g., what is heritability), and the basics of the genome and DNA (what are the building blocks of the genome, how is DNA transmitted, and how can DNA be measured). The students will then participate in a 2 session “bitter tasting” lab practical in which they will isolate their own DNA from saliva, and test whether they have the genotype that determines whether or not you can taste bitterness. In subsequent lectures, contemporary methods are discussed that are used to identify the genes that are involved in medical and psychiatric disorders, and other behavioural traits like cognition and height (e.g., linkage, candidate gene studies, genome-wide association analyses). Having identified involved genes, various types of follow-up studies are discussed that are required to learn and understand what these genes do (e.g., model animal studies, iPSCs). The final lectures of the course concern the question whether and how findings from genetic research translate to the (clinical) practice, and can be used in e.g. pre- and postnatal screening. This will also be the topic of the final debate, with which we end the course: in the presence of an expert panel, students will discuss the pro’s and con’s of increasing genetic knowledge and how it should (not) be used in the medical and social context (e.g., insurance, pre- and postnatal screening).
The students will attend lectures, and participate in a lab practical. In addition, students will read key scientific papers on topics related to the lectures. Each session, a few students will give a presentation on that week’s papers, and other students will prepare questions on these papers. The presentations will be evaluated both by the coordinators and by the other students (i.e., peer review). For the final debate, students will be asked to prepare statements either pro or con the use of genetic information in everyday life
TYPE OF ASSESSMENT
- Written exam with open
- Multiple choice questions
- Scientific paper presentation
- Participation in the final debate
Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.
Some courses may require additional fees.