Marc W. Kirschner: The Origin of Vertebrates

I. The Origin of the Vertebrate Nervous System
II. Telling the Back from the Front
III. How Chordates Got Their Chord

Part II: Telling the Back from the Front

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Lecture Overview
Modern cell and developmental biology has a lot to contribute to our understanding of the deep history of animal origins, which until recently has been largely the province of paleontology. In this set of lectures, I hope to show how recent studies by a very small group of scientists on a virtually unknown phylum of marine organisms, the hemichordates, has helped explain some of the major mysteries of the origin of vertebrates. This is a tour of not only vertebrate origins but the contribution that modern molecular and genomic tools are making to developmental biology.
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Speaker Bio
Marc Kirschner is the founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. Prior to that, he Chaired the Department of Cell Biology at the same institution for ten years. Before moving to Harvard he was a Professor at the University of California in San Francisco for fifteen years. Prior to his tenure at UCSF, he was on the faculty at Princeton University. His PhD was with Howard Schachman at the University of California, Berkeley in 1971 in biochemistry.
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