Session 1: Conception and Early Development
The revolution in stem cell biology has lead to a greater understanding of the earliest events in human development revealing new insights into the unique features of each cell prior to implantation as well as how cell division is regulated at these early times. This is the time when the very earliest decisions are made that direct cells to become, either the embryo or its supporting tissues, the placenta. Our understanding of these events is now being opened up through the development of methods that allow us to observe events that were previously hidden from view as the embryo implants into the mother’s womb, a crucial time that is exactly when the body plan is being fashioned. This session focuses on these very early events and we will hear about cellular checks and balances that ensure healthy embryos and fetuses, discuss new technologies that improve in vitro fertilization, and learn about the consequences that result from failure in these early developmental steps.