MDI Biological Laboratory

Harnessing Drosophila Genetics to Model Human Disease: UMF & UMM 2024

A short course for students from the UMaine campuses at Farmington and Machias.


Students will learn how the powerful genetic model organism Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly, can be used in genetics research. Drosophila has lent itself to vital molecular and cell biology research for over a century, resulting in a huge body of knowledge and genetics tools that we can easily leverage to perform genetic manipulations. These tools and the fruit fly’s quick life cycle allow us to readily study processes of development, morphogenesis, stem cell biology, and cell differentiation, among many others. These studies give us invaluable insight into how our own genes and cells function.

We will discuss some of the basics of Drosophila molecular genetics, and students will have the opportunity for some hands-on fly experiments: sorting flies based on visible phenotypes, setting up genetic crosses, fruit fly dissections, plus immunofluorescent staining and microscopy. Students should leave this course with a new appreciation for the immense value brought to many fields of biology by what most people see merely as a pesky kitchen guest!


About the Maine INBRE program

This short course is supported and organized by the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE).

Maine is one of 23 states that have been identified by the National Institutes of Health as having historically received low levels of NIH funding. The INBRE program was established to strengthen research networks in each of these states, so that they could become more competitive for federal research grants. In Maine, our network is comprised of 14 institutions, with the MDI Biological Laboratory as the lead institution. Other institutions in our network include the following: Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, College of the Atlantic, the Honors College at the University of Maine, the Jackson Laboratory, Southern Maine Community College, the University of Maine, UMaine Farmington, UMaine Fort Kent, UMaine Machias, UMaine Presque Isle, and the University of New England.

Money from Maine INBRE supports research training experiences like this short course, as well biomedical research and laboratory facilities throughout our network. Other training experiences include academic year and summer student research. Please check with the INBRE contact at each institution for the most accurate information about opportunities on your campus. At UMaine Farmington, that contact is Jean Doty. At UMaine Machias, that contact is William Otto.


This research training opportunity is supported by an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under grant number P20GM103423.

The IDeA program builds research capacities in states that historically have had low levels of NIH funding by supporting basic, clinical and translational research; faculty development; and infrastructure improvements.