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VTPP 452 - Fetal and Embryo Physiology (Spring Semester)

Goulding Syllabus PhotoInstructor

Michael Golding PhD.
Assistant Professor
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 3-credit hour course is to provide junior and senior level students with an introduction to the physiologic processes driving early embryonic development and 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 junior and senior level students to shift from memorization and recitation to the development of skill sets necessary for the life-long learning required of medical professionals.

Meeting Times

VTPP 452 will meet every Tuesday and Thursday 8:45 AM - 10:00 AM in Room 120 - National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing (NCTM).

Link to NCTM >>

VTPP 452 Goulding and StudentVTPP 452 Long Teaching

Optional Laboratory - Surgical Dissection and Embryo Flush

Through the generous support of the Montague Foundation, Dr. Golding is able to offer an optional laboratory for students to gain practical, hands-on experience in embryology. Students can participate in the surgical isolation of mouse blastocyst stage embryos, and observe first hand some of the major structural functional relationships discussed in class.

Overall Course Objectives

  • Identify the cell types and anatomical structures necessary to gametogenesis.
  • 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 cycle.
  • 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 length.
  • Define the terms: stem cell, differentiation, commitment, and specification and explain their relevance to mammalian development.
  • Discuss the maternal physiologic and anatomic changes associated with pregnancy.
  • Discuss the diagnosis of pregnancy using biochemical methodologies.
  • Diagram the structures of the developing embryo.
  • Describe the relationship between fetal and maternal tissues.
  • Describe the developmental origins of the circulatory system.
  • 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 labour
  • 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 implications.

American Physiological Society - Learning Objectives - Learning Objectives 77 - 105

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 successful therapy.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the student will have:

  • developed an understanding of basic endocrinology and how hormones regulate physiological processes
  • a firm understanding of how cellular differentiation controls organ development
  • 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 including:
    • insight into critical thinking in the clinical setting
    • goals and mechanisms of some pharmacologic agents
    • surgical techniques used to correct cardiovascular birth defects
    • the physiological basis of clinical assisted reproductive technologies