Michael Golding PhD.
Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas 77843-4466
Email Dr. Golding
Brief Course Description
The purpose of this course is to provide graduate level students
with an introduction to the biochemical processes essential to
gametogenesis, early embryonic development and pregnancy. This
course will provide a framework upon which to build a basic
understanding of the physiology of pregnancy and several
developmental disorders that arise due to biomedical
miss-regulation or environmental agents. Students will be expected
to synthesize structural functional relationships between the
gametes and reproductive organs and describe the interaction
between the developing fetus, placental membranes, maternal tissues
and the environment. Graduate level students will also be expected
to participate in a weekly journal club, and give oral
presentations describing the scientific findings and research
strategies detailed within the assigned manuscript.
VTPP 652 will meet every Tuesday and Thursday 8:45 AM -
10:00 AM in Room 120 - National Center for Therapeutics
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Overall Course Objectives
Welcome to VTPP 652 - Fetal and Embryo Physiology. This course
is intended to provide Graduate Students with a survey of the
molecular and physiologic processes at work during pregnancy. We
will begin with the production of sperm and egg and travel through
pregnancy to the events initiating labor. The topics discussed in
this course are intended to be used as a framework for students to
better understand the developmental origins of both birth defects
and disease. The specific learning objectives for this course have
been distilled from those prescribed by the American Physiological
Association, the American Congress of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists as well as major areas in
Maternal-Fetal medicine highlighted by the National Board of Medical
Examiners. This course will draw upon subject matter covered
in anatomy, cell biology, genetics, and physiology and will require
students to synthesize these separate disciplines into a
comprehensive whole. This course is intended to prompt
graduate students to shift from memorization and recitation to the
development of skill sets necessary for the life-long learning
required of professionals.
Specific Learning Objectives
- Identify the cell types and anatomical structures necessary to
- Describe spermatogenesis and the role of Sertoli and Leydig
cells in this process.
- Graphically illustrate the timing of changes in blood levels of
key sex hormones and correlate these with structural changes in
both the uterine endometrium and ovary during the menstrual
- Explain the physiological basis of steroid hormone
contraception ("birth control pill").
- Describe the process of fertilization, including capacitation
and the acrosome reaction.
- Illustrate and explain the movement of the blastocyst towards
the uterine wall.
- Describe the process of implantation and explain the major
physiological functions of the placenta.
- List the protein hormones secreted by the placenta and describe
their roles in maintaining pregnancy / controlling gestation
- Define the terms: stem cell, differentiation, commitment, and
specification and explain their relevance to mammalian
- Discuss the maternal physiologic and anatomic changes
associated with pregnancy.
- Discuss the diagnosis of pregnancy using biochemical
- Diagram the structures of the developing embryo.
- Describe the relationship between fetal and maternal
- Describe the developmental origins of the circulatory
- Trace the flow of blood between maternal and fetal tissues for
a given gestational age.
- Define the normal length of gestation and describe how this is
established / maintained.
- Discuss anatomical and physiological characteristics for a
given gestational age.
- Identify a pregnancy at risk for complications, including poor
maternal or fetal outcomes.
- Describe the make up of the uterus and cervix
- List the hormonal changes involved in the onset of labour
- Describe how the cervix and uterus change in response to
- Define Epigenetics and describe the relationship between gene
expression and environmental factors.
- Define the term teratogen and describe potential mechanisms of
action for this class of agents.
- List the major assisted reproductive technologies in
agricultural and clinical practice and describe their use and
American Physiological Society - Learning
http://www.the-aps.org/MedPhysObj - Learning Objectives 77 -
American Congress of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists - Educational Objectives, A Core Curriculum
in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ninth Edition - Learning Outcomes for
Sections 1A - D.
National Board of Medical Examiners - Subject
Exam for Obstetrics and Gynecology - Learning Objectives pulled
from tested materials covered on the SHELF exam.
Learning Outcomes and Goals
The purpose of this course is to follow mammalian development
from the earliest stages of gametogenesis, through fertilization,
to the point the fetus is ready to begin terrestrial life. We fill
focus on the unique physiology of the placenta and its role in both
facilitating fetal metabolism and orchestrating the timing of human
development. Understanding the nuances of normal fetal physiology
is the basis for prenatal diagnosis and the institution of
By the end of the course, the graduate student will have:
- By the end of the course, the graduate student will have:
- developed an understanding of basic endocrinology and how
hormones regulate physiological processes
- a firm understanding of how cellular differentiation controls
- a better understanding of the developmental origins of
- the central nervous system
- the cardiovascular system
- the reproductive organs
- the limbs and integumentary system
- exposure to collection and analysis of clinical data
- knowledge of teratogens and their relation to the development
of birth defects
- a greater understanding of the relationship between
maternal-fetal physiology and complications during pregnancy
- insight into critical thinking in the clinical setting
- goals and mechanisms of some pharmacologic agents
- surgical techniques used to correct cardiovascular birth
- the physiological basis of clinical assisted reproductive
- developed skill sets necessary to critically evaluate the
- become proficient at giving short - scientific talks detailing
the core findings of a given study