From Embryology

Welcome to the 2014 Embryology Course!

Links: Timetable | How to work online | One page Wiki Reference Card | Moodle
  • Each week the individual assessment questions will be displayed in the practical class pages and also added here.
  • Copy the assessment items to your own page and provide your answer.
  • Note - Some guest assessments may require completion of a worksheet that will be handed in in class with your student name and ID.
Individual Lab Assessment
  1. Lab 1 Assessment - Fertilization References
  2. Lab 2 Assessment - Uploading a Research Image
  3. Lab 3 Assessment - Researching your Project Sub-Heading
  4. Lab 4 Assessment - Cord Stem Cells
  5. Lab 5 Assessment - Abnormalities
  6. Lab 6 Assessment - Group Work (As announced in the lecture, No individual assessment item for this Lab, but I do expect you to have added content to your Group project by tomorrow's Lab.)
  7. Lab 7 Assessment - Endocrine+Teeth
  8. Lab 8 - Genital
  9. Lab 9 - Peer Assessment
  10. Lab 10 - Sensory Development
  11. Lab 11 - Stem Cells
  12. Lab 12 - Stem Cells Presentation (see preparation information)
Lab 12 - Stem Cell Presentation Assessment More Info
Group Comment Mark (10)
  • Lots of effort to place article in larger context
  • Slide lay out could be improved: lots of empty space, use larger images and talk through them
  • Results presentation a bit convoluted. Try to finish discussion of each experiment with a clear conclusion.
  • Repetition of information towards the end
  • One presenter had an unprofessional style of presentation
  • Good well-structured presentation
  • Good introduction
  • Methods discussed separately. Try to avoid this, and incorporate in discussion of experiments. Not sure if technology was understood very well.
  • Good well-structured presentation
  • Do not discuss methods as a separate section
  • Discussion of results not always very clear, comprehension?
  • Good well-structured presentation
  • Lots of text on slides, improve talking through images, blow up images
  • Good discussion
  • Good well-structured presentation, amount of text on slides relatively good.
  • Figures too small, discussion bit convoluted
  • Slightly over time
  • Good comprehension and well-structured presentation.
  • Too much text on slides
  • Experiments discussed in a lot of detail. Try to be more concise and discuss aim of experiment, approach, summarize results, conclude.
  • No talking through figures
  • Good well-structured presentation, great introduction, inclusion of images in presentation done relatively well.
  • Methods discussed separately. Incorporate methods in discussion of the experiments in the results section.
  • Try not to depend too much on text on your slides
  • Talking through results images was not very clear, comprehension?
More Useful Links
Student Projects
Group 1 Respiratory User:Z3330991 User:Z3332339 User:Z3333429 User:Z3372817
Group 2 Renal User:Z3463310 User:Z3465141 User:Z3465654 User:Z5030311
Group 3 Gastrointestinal User:Z3414515 User:Z3375627 User:Z3415141 User:Z3415242
Group 4 Genital User:Z3415716 User:Z3416697 User:Z3417458 User:Z3417753
Group 5 Integumentary User:Z3417796 User:Z3417843 User:Z3418340 User:Z3418488
Group 6 Endocrine User:Z3418702 User:Z3418837 User:Z3418698 User:Z3414648
Group 7 Neural User:Z3418981 User:Z3419587 User:Z3422484 User:Z3374116
Group 8 Musculoskeletal User:Z3418779 User:Z3418718 User:Z3418989
Student Projects Fetal Development of a specific System.
2014 Course: Week 2 Lecture 1 Lecture 2 Lab 1 | Week 3 Lecture 3 Lecture 4 Lab 2 | Week 4 Lecture 5 Lecture 6 Lab 3 | Week 5 Lecture 7 Lecture 8 Lab 4 | Week 6 Lecture 9 Lecture 10 Lab 5 | Week 7 Lecture 11 Lecture 12 Lab 6 | Week 8 Lecture 13 Lecture 14 Lab 7 | Week 9 Lecture 15 Lecture 16 Lab 8 | Week 10 Lecture 17 Lecture 18 Lab 9 | Week 11 Lecture 19 Lecture 20 Lab 10 | Week 12 Lecture 21 Lecture 22 Lab 11 | Week 13 Lecture 23 Lecture 24 Lab 12
Student Projects - Group 1 | Group 2 | Group 3 | Group 4 | Group 5 | Group 6 | Group 7 | Group 8 | Moodle


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albumin synthesis


Lab 1

influence of stress and anxiety on IVF

Anxiety levels and profiles on personality, level of stress hormones were measured in total of 44 women; 22 of which are undergoing IVF treatment for tubal infertility and the other 22 women (fertile) as a control. Serum prolactin and cortisol were used as stress markers, and STAI questionnaires were used to measure anxiety levels in each of the women. Comparison of profiling of personalities showed the infertile women had significantly higher scores in suspicion (p>0.05), guilt (p>0.05), and hostility (p>0.01), but lower somatic anxiety (0.05) and indirect aggression (0.05) than the fertile women as controls. The infertile women also had significantly higher levels of prolactin and cortisol throughout the menstrual cycle. In this particular study, it was concluded that infertile women when compared with fertile women showed higher stress levels and had different personality profiling results in term of suspicion, guilt, and hostility, perhaps as a result of their infertility.

correlation with IVF implantation rates and high vitamin D levels

Research to find correlation between vitamin D levels and successful implantation / clinical pregnancy rates in infertile women undergoing IVF treatment. Measured levels of vitamin D as determined by serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin D from total 173 women undergoing IVF at Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario. Serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin D samples were collected within 1 week of oocyte retrieval, and they were classified either sufficient or insufficient according to how much was present. (More than 75nmol/L was classified as being sufficient). It was found that 54.9% of the 173 women trialled on had insufficient Serum 25-hydryoxy-vitamin D levels, with only 34.7% successful implantation rate. The remaining 45.1% that had sufficient serum hydroxy-vitamin D had a 52.5% implantation rate. From these results, it was concluded that women with sufficient levels of vitamin D are significantly more likely to achieve clinical pregnancy following IVF. Vitamin D supplementation could provide an easy and cost-effective way of improving pregnancy rates; this merits further investigation.


Blastocyst hatching

--Mark Hill This is a commercial image not from a research article. There is also no indication you have permission to reuse this image. The file has been deleted (0/5)


Urine Formation + Amniotic Sac

limb deformations in oligohydramnio sequence

Polyhydramnios and oligohydramnios

amniotic fluid: not just urine anymore

the urinary excretion of amino acids and sugar in early infancy

--Mark Hill these articles may be relevant to your research sub-heading (I assume it was Urine Formation + Amniotic Sac), but you have not formatted the reference links correctly. (4/5)


1. Stem cells are cells that have the ability to transform and generate mature cells of a particular tissue through cell differentiation. Stem cells exist in the haematopoietic system, allowing researchers to isolate them, and use them to generate specific cells through the manipulation of cell differentiation, to use them in regenerative medicine. Stem cells and cancer cells both have the ability to self-renew themselves; meaning that tumours may potentially arise from transformation of stem cells. Haematopoietic stem cells have been shown to be responsible for regeneration of blood and immune systems, and have been used extensively in therapeutic settings.

It has been found through previous researches that haemopoietic stem cells have the ability to differentiate into non haemopoietic stem cells. Some signalling pathways that regulate stem cell growth and differentiation has been found to also control cancer cell growth; making stem cells a target of transformation for some forms of cancer. The qualities of a stem cell being self-renewal systems and long living, suggests that there is a greater chance for mutations to occur and accumulate in individual stem cells compared to most mature cells found within the body.

Tannishtha. R., Morrison. S. J., Clarke. M. F., Weissman, I. L. Stem cells, cancer, and cancer stem cells. (2001) online:

2. Ductus Arteriosus connects the pulmonary artery with the descending aortic arch. shunts the right ventricular output away from the lungs.

Ductus Venosus connects the portal sinus with the inferior vena cava. allows blood from the umbilical vein (oxygenated) to reach the liver.

Both shunts are closed post natally. Coceani F, Olley PM. (1988) The control of cardiovascular shunts in the fetal and perinatal period. article

--Mark Hill The review refers to stem cells, but you have not identified a cord stem cell paper summary. The paper should have been cited as shown below. You have shown only 2 of the 3 vascular shunts. Foramen Ovale - two separate forms of foramen ovale closure; functional and structural. Functional closure begins at the first breath and is rapid. Structural (anatomical) closure is much slower and generally occurs before the end of the first year. (2/5)

T Reya, S J Morrison, M F Clarke, I L Weissman Stem cells, cancer, and cancer stem cells. Nature: 2001, 414(6859);105-11 PubMed 11689955



An omphalocele is a rare birth defect that occurs every 1 in 4000 ~ 7000 live births world wide. [1] [2] [3] Babies with this birth defect are born with their visceral organs (mainly the liver, and intestines) inside a thin membrane sac known as the omphalocele sac external of their abdominal cavity into the base of the umbilical cord. [1] Technically, it is a herniation of the umbilicus. It is an abnormality in the development of the gastrointestinal system at around week 9~12 of fetal development. [2] It occurs when lateral unfolding of the embryo fails for some reason, leading to the formation of a omphalocele. [3] The organs are placed inside the abdominal cavity through surgery, usually within the first half year of the child being born. [4]

Children born with this defect often have other abnormalities, often chromosomal such as a trisomy at pair 13, 18 or 21. It is unknown what causes this birth defect; some studies have found maternal age, multiple pregnancies, and number of births may increase the chance of a child being born with an omphalocele, but there are also many studies against these. [3] [4] It is thought that smoking, consumption of alcohol, and not enough dietary foliate in the mother may contribute to this birth defect. [2] The survival rate for children born with just an omphalocele and do not have any other health problems is 90%. [1]

A woman carrying a fetus with omphalocele often have high levels of alpha-fetoprotein in her body. Blood testing, detailed fetal ultrasound, ultra fast fetal MRI and a fetal echocardiogram can lead to early diagnosis of a omphalocele whilst in the fetal stage, and in many cases where it is legal, the pregnancy is terminated. [2] [4]

[1] Omphalocele | Birth Anomalies | Prognosis & Treatment . 2014. Omphalocele | Birth Anomalies | Prognosis & Treatment . [ONLINE] Available at:

[2] CDC - Birth Defects, Facts about Omphalocele - NCBDDD. 2014. CDC - Birth Defects, Facts about Omphalocele - NCBDDD. [ONLINE] Available at:

[3] Chung DH. Pediatric surgery. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 67.

[4] Islam S. Advances in surgery for abdominal wall defects: Gastroschisis and omphalocele. Clin Perinatol.2012;39:375-386.

--Mark Hill This is a good description of Omphalocele and yes there is little known about primary causes. Next time try and cite primary research/review sources. (5/5)


1. Identify and write a brief description of the findings of a recent research paper on development of one of the endocrine organs covered in today's practical.

J Patell et al. (2011) show that the processes of embryogenesis, differentiation, and maturation of the thyroid gland is essential for fetal thyroid function. Such processes combined with the HPT axis (hypothalamic-putuitary-thyroid axis) and thyroid hormone metabolism results in the regulation of thyroid hormone production and secretion. Thyroxine (T4) is seen in embryo's as early in week 4 of development, and is essential for neurogenesis. T4 concentrations are highly regulated in order to provide protection to the fetus' neurological sites including the cerebral cortex. Molecular pathways in the cell membrane are thought to regulate thyroid hormone concentrations. Research suggests that mild hypothyroxinemia therefore may lead to fetal abnormalities in neurological developments. (Hypothyroxinemia is a condition where there is limited / not enough Thyroxine hormone circulating the fetal body.)

J Patel1, K Landers,H Li, R H Mortimer1, and K Richard. Thyroid hormones and fetal neurological development(2011). Journal of endocrinology.

2. Identify the embryonic layers and tissues that contribute to the developing teeth.

The ectoderm, mesoderm and neural crest ectomesenchyme contribute to the development of teeth. Ameloblasts, cells differentiated from the ectoderm develop into teeth enamel, and the Odontoblasts, mesenchymal cells differentiated from the neural crest form predentin to further calcify and form dentin. (Ben pansky). Teeth development can be divided into five stages; lamina, placode, bud, cap and bell. (Unsw embryology 2014).

Integumentary system - tooth development. UNSW embryology. 2014. EMBRYONIC DEVELOPMENT & STEM CELL COMPENDIUM. Ben Pansky. Germ Layers And Their Derivatives.

--Mark Hill This is a good paper, but it refers more to the effect of thyroid development on the developing nervous system, rather than the actual endocrine organ itself. Minor, you have once again not used the correct online citation format, see below. Your answer for teeth is correct. (4/5)

J Patel, K Landers, H Li, R H Mortimer, K Richard Thyroid hormones and fetal neurological development. J. Endocrinol.: 2011, 209(1);1-8 PubMed 21212091


Provide a brief time course and overview of embryonic development of either the human testis or ovary. (2-3 paragraphs)

The ovaries are the female gonadal organ, responsible for the production and protection of eggs through out puberty until menopause, as well as stimulating the production of hormones. Like the male gonads the testes, the development of the ovaries are supplied from cells of the mesothelium and primordial germ cells which migrate to the ovaries from the yolk sac. [1] The paramesonephric ducts are vital in female gonad development; forming a Y-shaped uterovaginal primordium which will aid in obtaining the adult anatomical position. [2]

The female gonads develop into an identifiable organ (the ovaries) at around week 10 of embryonic life where the cortex of the ovaries become visible. The testes on the other hand can be visualized at around week 7 of development. [3] Histologically, the cortex containing the parenchyma, and the medulla sharing the elements of the stroma can be identified at around week 10 [4] Gonadal cords extend into the ovarian medulla to form a rete ovarii, which normally disappear as development progresses. The ovary is first apparent as a thickening of the coelomic epithelium at about week 6 of development. At sexual differentiation and development of the gonads, the ovaries are made up of >5 cell types; the ovarian surface epithelium, endothelial cells, mesenchymal cells, pre-granulosa cells and primordial germ cells. [5]

Include an image from the historic genital embryology section of the online notes in your description.


  1. Peter Smith, Dagmar Wilhelm, Raymond J Rodgers. "Development of the mammalian ovary" Journal of endocrinology. June 1, 2014, pg221
  2. Moore: The Developing Human, 9th ed. Development Of Genital System. 2011 Saunders, An Imprint of Elsevier
  3. Review of MEDICAL EMBRYOLOGY Book by BEN PANSKY, Ph.D, M.D. Development of The Female Genital System: Ovarian Differentiation
  4. human embryology organogenesis. 21.3 differentiation of the gonads
  5. Peter Smith, Dagmar Wilhelm, Raymond J Rodgers. "Development of the mammalian ovary" Journal of endocrinology. June 1, 2014, pg221

--Mark Hill Your description of ovary development is a little jumbled, even though you have cited good sources. Could I suggest that you look at Ovary Development page or a recent article PMID 23409002. Your historic image is fine. (4/5)


Peer review


The introduction doesn’t seem to be a flowing paragraph, but is a collection of rather short sentences with the topic changing every time and is hard to follow, and some like these “During the embryonic and fetal stage the respiratory system is developing.” seem rather obvious for the target audience of university science students. The overall layout of the project seem weird as well - putting the current researches, and historic findings before the conducting / respiratory zone seem to make sense. Also the amount of information per section is extremely unbalanced; there is too much abnormalities and hardly sufficient information on the actual development of the lungs. The references are not put together yet either. The lung development stage graph is really well done, easy to read and is visually appealing. Also maybe add a few photo’s in the abnormalities section just to make it visually appealing; there is a lot of information in there but only has one picture. There are a few parts with grammatical errors / could use with some better punctuation and wording. For example the first sentence under the conducting zone “The conducting zone is made up nose to bronchioles and its function is to filter, warm, and moisten air and conduct it into the lung” could be better reworded as “The conducting zone’s function is to filter, warm and moisten air and conduct it to the lungs, and is made up of the nose, pharynx, trachea and bronchioles” or something along those lines.


In the overview section, the words “GIT” suddenly are used without any explanation as to what abbreviation it is for. Change to “The gastrointestinal (GIT) system is a ….”. There are also some punctuation errors with capital letters being used mid sentence, and words like “till” being used instead of “until”. Adding a picture to the introductory section would make it visually appealing to the readers. In the fore-gut section, there are not any pictures and make it really long and dreadful to read by first look. The explanation of the oesophagus being occluded and recanalized is a bit hard to understand and could use some further explanation / rewording / diagrams to aid. I noticed in the GIT lecture that the rotations that occur in the mid-gut was a hard concept for me to understand, you should definitely add a gif / picture to portray this nicely to the readers. Overall, I think the tone of the page is very dry, and doesn’t include as much information as it should. You should include more detail, and especially some background information as to how and what the structures arise from, as well as explaining the overall function it will hold in the adult. The reference list seems really small, or most the text doesn’t seem relevantly referenced in general. You should check over the reference listings before submission. For the timeline I think it’d be better if you put the fore-gut, mid-gut, and hind-gut were put together, so that we can see the overall development, rather than the individual development of the GIT system.


There is a lot of information with hardly any pictures or diagrams to support the information. It is currently very not appealing visually. System developments, Current research, and models and findings are all written in dot point form which should be converted in paragraph format before final submission to match the wiki format. I think that you should add an introductory section to tell the readers what the genital system is about, and what its function is in the adult. Also you should definitely put the references together before the final submission date. The historic finding section is very detailed and well explained; it’s very well done. The abnormalities section was very well done and easy to understand with no punctuation errors etc; the drawing of the uterus/vaginal abnormalities were very easy to understand and self explanatory. I found it really nice that the abnormalities section was further divided up into female / male and those which both genders can have. As for points to improvement, flow of information and it’s formatting can be improved by moving subheadings to more appropriate places, and also by labelling the pictures and diagrams.The contents at the start of the page is very well sectioned. I love the video; your group wiki page is the only one with a video, and it’s really informative and helpful, especially for visual learners like myself. Overall: VERY well researched and detailed!!


The introduction seems really over formal and non friendly. Maybe try rewording some parts to make it more reader-friendly and welcoming. The developmental time line is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! It shows the week of development, a brief explanation of each, and a picture to visually explain what is happening! I think it’s the best developmental timeline of all the wiki pages! Awesome job :) The references should be put together at the end of the wiki page before final submission. Hair and nail sections are very well done, teeth section are in dot points; this should be converted into paragraphs to match the wiki page format. The section on recent findings seem to be copy pasted? Or not yet converted into the students’ own words. The formatting is very different to the whole of the wiki page as well which should be changed. On the section on historic findings, you should try to find a picture to supplement the information you have. The abnormalities section is very well done, pictures visually supplementing each of the abnormalities. The picture of the infant with harlequin ichthyosis especially helps the reader understand the degree of extremity of the abnormality. Overall, very informative and well done!


There is no introduction! You should definitely add one! The graph in the pineal gland only has one rows; I suppose you are planning on adding more rows and hormones secreted by the pineal gland? If not, maybe just scrap the graph in general cause there’s really not much point. The graph in the hypothalamus section doesn’t have any examples yet, I presume that you’ll be adding stuff soon? The overall project having been divided according to the each endocrine organs is really nice. Hardly any work has been done yet on the pituitary gland yet, you might want to get started. Beautiful work on the thyroid, parathyroid and pancreas; easy to understand the paragraphs, and they are visually aided with pictures. For the development of the adrenal glands, and the testis and ovaries, I think you should find a picture. Historic findings, placental development and abnormalities are basically non-existent, which are vital components to this project. Overall, the project is very very informative and very well done! The page has good content, just add the in-text referencing, and maybe try to improve the aesthetics to make it more appealing to your readers. Good luck group 6!

Neural - CNS

Very good introduction! Very informative and gives a great jist as to what the project will be about. The developmental timeline is very well done and easy to comprehend and understand. You should add a lot more pictures in general to the whole page, there’s a lot of information and is organised nicely. I feel the usage of dot points is a bit excessive, maybe try to organise some of the information into paragraphs to make it match the wiki page style. The references aren’t organised at the bottom of the page yet; maybe something for the group to start when the page is unlocked for editing? Some parts of the page still do need a lot of information still to be added. I think you could go more into detail with the brain development; maybe you could make sub sections for development of the cerebrum, cerebellum, brain stem etc to add more information. I’ve noticed that there is an image that hasn’t been uploaded correctly; have a look at the page on how to upload pictures, I’ve found that using Mark’s tutorial has been really helpful when I was doing my page. Hope this helped!


There is no introduction that has been added - you should really add one because its great to introduce the readers to what will be in the wiki page. I hope the person incharge of the first two sections of your group will / does have some work to add soon. Hardly any information has been added to the majority of the assignment, and to be honest, this wiki project has had the least amount of work done on it. You need pictures, diagrams, graphs and a LOT more information. You guys are doing a “musculoskeletal” topic, and I can’t find anything on “skeletal” on your page yet. Mark has posted that your page will only be focusing on fetal muscle development - why not change the name of the page from musculoskeletal to muscular only? That will prepare the reader in regards to the topic being addressed. As for abnormalities, all the other pages have on average 5 abnormalities being introduced, whereas this page only has 1. Although it is really well worded and introduced, I think you should try to find at least another 2 abnormalities to put into your group project. Sections for historic findings, current research, models and findings will need to be added. Your page seems to focus only on how the actual muscle fibres develop, but perhaps, you could write about skeletal muscle development contributing to limb development or something to widen your topics? Overall, your page needs a lot more work! Hope you can get a lot of work done until the project is due, make sure to add pictures!

--Mark Hill Your peer reviews are very good. They are concise, specific and appropriately critical. While you do give a positive summary conclusion, with feedback it is sometimes worth giving the positive aspects an equal balance and starting with these. (10/10)

Lab 10


Vision, or the visual system is a component of the central nervous system that allows one to process visual detail through detecting and interpreting visible light waves to build a representation of the surrounding environment. Development of the eye is mainly post-natal event, however fetal eye movements (without functional brain activity) has been observed using a fetal MRI scan. In the research article by Veronika Schöpf et. al (2014), they use data driven methodology, magnetic resonance imaging and echo-planar imaging to show that there is a link between spontaneous eye movements and functional networks in the occipital brain regions associated with vision in fetuses. [1]

Fetuses around week 30 to week 36 of development were scanned, and based on a probability map, the centre of the eye was estimated and refined by mathematical morphology operations. In total, 4 types of fetal eye movements were detected, including: single, prolonged eye movement, repetitive nystagmoid eye movement, fast deviation with slow reposition eye movements and fast deviation with fast reposition eye movements.

This experiment, however, could not find a link between spontaneous eye movements and functional networks in the occipital brain regions associated with vision in fetuses due to the fact that conventional fMRI paradigms used in adult settings do not capture the fetal brain settings; the developing brain is in essence a network of voltage - transmitter currents, unlike an adult brain. A fetal MRI scan was initially developed to see a fetus' ocular development and for early detection of abnormalities of the brain stem. [2]

sensory - vision development

  1. Veronika Schöpf, Thomas Schlegl, Andras Jakab, Gregor Kasprian, Ramona Woitek, Daniela Prayer, and Georg Langs (2014) The relationship between eye movement and vision develops before birth: Front Hum Neurosci. 2014; 8: 775.
  2. Veronika Schöpf, Thomas Schlegl, Andras Jakab, Gregor Kasprian, Ramona Woitek, Daniela Prayer, and Georg Langs (2014) The relationship between eye movement and vision develops before birth: Front Hum Neurosci. 2014; 8: 775.

--Mark Hill Good review of an aspect of vision development. There has been some discussion for some time about the association of prenatal eye movements. (5/5)