Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti

Summer School
Evolutionary Developmental Biology
Conceptual and Methodological Foundations

2nd Edition
From Gene Networks to Organismal Systems

Organisers: Alessandro Minelli,
Gerd B. Müller and Giuseppe Fusco

School director: Johannes Jaeger

Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti

19 – 22 September 2011


Program PDF


School sponsors
Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti (
Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, Vienna (

Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti
Palazzo Franchetti
Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti Venezia Vuoto

Teaching panel
J. Jaeger (School Director, CRG Barcelona), P. Beldade (Gulbenkian Institute, Lisbon), C. Braendle (CNRS and University of Nice – Sophia Antipolis), G. E. Budd (University of Uppsala), G. Fusco (University of Padova), A. Hejnol (Sars International Center for Marine Molecular Biology, Bergen), R. Jenner (Natural History Museum, London), A. Minelli (University of Padova), G. B. Müller (University of Vienna), S. A. Newman (New York Medical College)

Evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) faces a number of significant theoretical and empirical challenges, as it is moving beyond qualitative comparative analyses of gene expression and key regulatory factors, and begins to focus on quantitative, systems-level studies of evolving developmental processes. This course will expose its participants to these challenges, with the aim of providing PhD students and post-docs with a basic conceptual and methodological toolkit to approach current evo-devo questions.
The course is centered around the complex relationship between genotype and phenotype. It will start with an introduction on the history and current status of evo-devo, and an outline of an extended synthesis for evolutionary biology. We will introduce problems of phylogenetics, and the choice of model organisms as a necessary practical prerequisite for any investigation into evo-devo. We will then cover different approaches to the study of evolution at the phenotypic level: comparative embryology/morphology, the principles of cis-regulatory evolution and its consequences on organismic form, the role of physical factors as well as cell interaction and gene networks in constraining and shaping evolutionary processes, and the influence of the environment. This will include discussions of central concepts such as evolvability, robustness, and phenotypic plasticity and their respective roles in evolution.

Planned activities
The course will be organized into lecture modules in the morning (each teacher will give 2 hours of lectures), and participatory activities in the afternoon, which will consist of a combination of the following:
- journal clubs in small groups: students present and discuss seminal papers on evo-devo, moderated by selected teachers,
- a computer-based exercise on evolutionary simulation,
- group projects: as an exercise, students will have to draft and present small projects that use computer modelling and experiments to investigate particular problems of evo-devo; teachers will act as ‘grant panel’; students will be given at least one afternoon to prepare those projects before presenting them.

Who can apply
The course is designed for PhD students and post-doctoral researchers involved or interested in evo-devo research. The maximum number of participants is 30. Preference will be given on the basis of actual involvement in evo-devo research, personal motivation, and CV. Organizers will also try to maximize the number of research groups involved, thus discouraging massive participation of students from the same laboratory.

How to apply
Applicants shall send a short CV and a motivation statement to Giuseppe Fusco ( not later than May 30th, 2011.

The fee of 350 euros includes

  • double-room accommodation for 5 nights
    (see location at
  • 4 lunches  
  • welcome dinner  
    course supporting materials  

    Registration form and secure on-line payment of the fees will be accessible in due time.

    Important dates

  • May 30th, 2011 
  • Deadline for application  
  • June 30th, 2011
  • Announcement of selection results and opening of registration  
  • July 15th, 2011
  • Deadline for formal registration (upon positive selection)
    including payment of fees
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