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Welcome to The Visible Embryo, a comprehensive educational resource on human development from conception to birth.

The Visible Embryo provides visual references for changes in fetal development throughout pregnancy and can be navigated via fetal development or maternal changes.

The National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development awarded Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovative Research Grants to develop The Visible Embryo. Initally designed to evaluate the internet as a teaching tool for first year medical students, The Visible Embryo is linked to over 600 educational institutions and is viewed by more than one million visitors each month.

Today, The Visible Embryo is linked to over 600 educational institutions and is viewed by more than 1 million visitors each month. The field of early embryology has grown to include the identification of the stem cell as not only critical to organogenesis in the embryo, but equally critical to organ function and repair in the adult human. The identification and understanding of genetic malfunction, inflammatory responses, and the progression in chronic disease, begins with a grounding in primary cellular and systemic functions manifested in the study of the early embryo.

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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFetal liver is producing blood cellsHead may position into pelvisBrain convolutions beginFull TermWhite fat begins to be madeWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningImmune system beginningPeriod of rapid brain growthBrain convolutions beginLungs begin to produce surfactantSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresFemale Reproductive SystemEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterSecond TrimesterFirst TrimesterFertilizationDevelopmental Timeline
CLICK ON weeks 0 - 40 and follow along every 2 weeks of fetal development
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Home | Pregnancy Timeline | News Alerts |News Archive Oct 16, 2013


James E. Rothman talks to reporters at the Oct. 7 press conference celebrating his Nobel Prize. In the background are Yale University Medical Dean Dr. Robert Alpern and
Yale President Peter Salovey.

Image Credit: Nature

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James Rothman Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Rothman helped reveal the mechanism that allows information-containing cell compartments—called vesicles—to transmit information both in the interior of the cell and to the surrounding environment.

James E. Rothman, ’71 B.A., the Fergus F. Wallace Professor of Biomedical Sciences, and professor and chair of the Department of Cell Biology at Yale University, was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on how molecular messages are transmitted inside and outside of our cells, by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute.

Rothman, who is also professor of chemistry at Yale, shares the prize with Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley and Thomas Südhof of Stanford University.

The fusion of vesicles and cellular membranes, a process called exocytosis, is basic to life and occurs in organisms as diverse as yeast and humans.

Exocytosis underlies physiological functions ranging from the secretion of insulin to the regulation of the brain neurotransmitters responsible for movement, perception, memory, and mood.

However, this process was barely understood 40 years ago when George Palade, at The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research first showed that proteins shuttled between cellular compartments.

“My life’s work on membrane trafficking in cells was inspired by the discoveries of George Palade, who founded Yale’s cell biology department in 1973, and indeed founded the field of cell biology as we know it today,” said Rothman in 2008, when he was hired by Yale from Columbia University to head the department Palade created.

Scientists soon discovered that vesicles containing protein cargoes bud from the membranes of compartments inside the cell, and then fuse with another membrane inside the cell or with the cell’s outer membrane to release their cargo. But in the late 1970s when Rothman started working in the field, no one understood exactly how the cell creates and maintains such an elaborate information trafficking system.

Rothman decided to try to unravel these mechanisms biochemically in a “cell-free” system, breaking down each step in the process and recreating it in the laboratory. Many scientists believed it would be impossible to isolate each of these mechanisms outside the cell.

Over the years, Rothman and other scientists have described have described in great detail the genes and enzymes responsible for the budding of vesicles and their fusion in membranes.

“The experimental approaches that he pioneered to study these processes, such as the use of broken cells and purified cell components in artificial systems, demonstrated that a cell’s life could be studied with the tools of biochemistry.

“Jim's discoveries and ideas have helped shape modern membrane biology, both by revealing new principles and by framing new questions.”

Pietro de Camilli, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Cell Biology and professor of neurobiology at Yale.

Rothman, who serves as director of the Nanobiology Institute on Yale’s West Campus, has received numerous honors, including the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, the Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, and the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience.

Rothman graduated summa cum laude from Yale College in 1971 with a degree in physics. He earned a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from Harvard Medical School in 1976. He then spent two years as a postdoctoral associate in the laboratory of Harvey F. Lodish, a preeminent biochemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1978, Rothman moved to the Department of Biochemistry at Stanford School of Medicine as an assistant professor. He continued his research at Princeton University from 1988 until 1991, when he became the founding chair of the Department of Cellular Biochemistry and Biophysics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and vice chair of the Sloan-Kettering Institute. He subsequently joined Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he was a professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, the Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Chemical Biology, and director of the Columbia Genome Center.

Original press releas:http://news.yale.edu/2013/10/07/yale-s-james-rothman-shares-2013-nobel-prize-physiology-or-medicine