ST NetWatch: Educator Sites

American Physiological Society Archive
The American Physiological Society (APS) maintains a collection of links to peer-reviewed online teaching resources. Some resources are provided by the APS, but many are contributed by scientists, scientific societies, and educators. The resources are cross-referenced in BiosciEdNet and the National Science Digital Library. Although the digital library is not specifically aimed at those teaching cell signaling, educators of cell signaling topics are likely to find relevant resources. Available materials include lesson plans, laboratory exercises, slides, videos, animations, review articles, and book chapters designed for those teaching elementary to graduate students, as well as resources designed for the general public and informal education. Users can search the archive by keyword, target audience, file format, or language, or browse the resources sorted by discipline, type of resource, or target audience. Resources are free, but users must register to use the “My Archive” features.
Ask a Scientist
This educational website developed by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) lets visitors submit questions to scientists and receive replies by email. Users’ questions are first checked against an existing database of past questions and answers. If no close matches are found, the question is sent to volunteer scientists (life science graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and principal investigators) associated with HHMI. Answers to questions are generally tailored to the age and scientific background of the person who asked the question and are completed in about 2 weeks. Some of these questions and answers are posted on the website. Ask A Scientist is not just for kids- it is great for curious adults who have questions inspired by current events, college students, or anyone who has questions about biology.
BBID-Biological Biochemical Image Database
The Biological Biochemical Image Database is a searchable database of images (mostly figures from published papers) of putative biological pathways, macromolecular structures, gene families, and cellular relationships. The images have PubMed links to the citations from which they are derived. The figures themselves are of limited use to a signal transduction afficionado, but may help a novice see the different views in the field. An educator may find these images useful in lecture preparation.
Biochemistry Online
Professor Henry Jakubowski's online textbook is organized on the basis of "chemical logic", so that new topics are introduced as a logical extension of preceding ones. The course emphasizes the fundamental concepts that structure determines function, that biological reactions are initiated by binding reactions, and that basic chemical principles derived from the study of small molecules can be applied to the behavior of macromolecules. The final section, on signal transduction, starts out by discussing the roles of ATP in energy transduction, and then covers such topics as signal transduction in neurons, at cell membranes, and in apoptosis and in memory and learning in Aplysia.
BioInteractive is a collection of free multimedia biology teaching resources produced by Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Online videos, animations, interactive lessons, and classroom activities are appropriate for high school students and undergraduates. Lectures feature topics such as obesity, biological clocks, and cancer, and virtual labs include immunology and neurophysiology experiments. Teachers may use these resources online or order free copies of the virtual labs on CD-ROM and DVDs of selected lectures, some of which are accompanied by downloadable teaching guides.
BiosciEdNet (BEN)
BEN is a portal to peer-reviewed teaching resources available in the digital libraries of partnering professional societies. The portal allows educators to search the information about the resources or to browse the resources that have been cataloged. The user is then sent to the societies' digital libraries to access the resources. Many of the indexed resources in BEN cover topics in microbiology, physiology, and ecology. With new partners building and cataloging their collections, BEN should become a leading search engine for finding biological science teaching resources. Selected STKE resources will be indexed with BEN.
BioVisions is a collection of multimedia materials produced by scientists, instructors, and students at Harvard University in collaboration with multimedia professionals. The goal of this project, which is directed by Robert Lue, is to use modern multimedia techniques to communicate biological processes and concepts. The star of this collection is a 9-minute computer-generated video called “The Inner Life of the Cell,” which uses the example of leukocyte extravasation to illustrate basic concepts in cell biology, such as membrane structure, cytoskeletal dynamics, protein trafficking, and G protein-coupled receptor signaling. Another standout animation illustrates mitochondrial biology. A traditional animation on cellular reprogramming explains the basics of epigenetics, somatic cell nuclear transfer, cell fate and plasticity, and the potential for stem cell therapies. Additional animations illustrate sterile technique, how a mass spectrometer works, and how to perform a Western blotting experiment. These animations are appropriate for students in high school through college, but any life scientist who appreciates visually engaging depictions of cellular processes will enjoy the computer animations.
CancerQuest contains a wealth of information on basic cell biology, as well as on tumor biology and cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment. In addition to information on conventional therapies, the site contains a section on current research on new therapies, including antisense oligonucleotides and drugs that affect molecular receptors. With numerous graphics and animations, cancer quizzes, and links to cancer journals and other online resources, the site provides a useful introduction to the biology of cancer.
Cell Biology Promotion
The Cell Biology Promotion web site from the European Institute of Chemistry and Biology provides a collection of educational resources for teaching cell biology and signal transduction. The effort is led by IJsbrand Kramer and includes pedagogical information, as well as student assignments or exercises, animations, and illustrations. Although many of the materials in the “Cell Biology Education” and “Signal Transduction Education” sections are presented in French, there are also several in English and there are plans to translate more. English-language resources in the “Cell Biology Education” section include animations, images, and slides that illustrate processes such as ATP synthesis, cell adhesion, and endocytosis. The illustrations are archived at ImageBank and are freely available for teaching and learning. Several slideshows created by Kramer for a signaling course that he teaches at the University of Bordeaux (in English) are available for download as PowerPoint files in the “Signal Transduction Education” section. Teachers can find English-language Active Learning Projects designed to introduce college students to bioinformatics methods in the “Cell Biology Education” section and French-language Active Learning Projects in the “Signal Transduction Education” section. In the “Pedagogical Links” section educators will find articles devoted to the methods and philosophy of teaching cell biology, as well as links to education-relevant journals or web resources.
Cytokines Online Pathfinder Encyclopaedia
The Cytokines Online Pathfinder Encyclopaedia (COPE) is part of a site designed at help users "Cope with Cytokines." Horst Ibelgaufts' site provides basic information on cytokines and their nomenclature through an alphabetized index. The information is actually an electronic, revised, and updated version of the "Dictionary of Cytokines", published in 1995 by VCH Publishers Inc., which is now out of print. There are other resources lurking under the "Browse contents, new entries, subdictionaries" link that include "miniCOPE dictionaries" on apoptosis, chemokines, hematology, metalloproteinases, and virulence factors. There is also a list of cell lines (over 200 of them!) used in cytokine research.
Electrophysiology and The Molecular Basis of Excitability
Francisco Bezanilla's site on electrophysiology and the molecular basis of excitability provides a terrific resource for anyone teaching basic electrophysiology at the graduate or advanced undergraduate level. The site includes a short textbook, The Nerve Impulse, which is available either as a downloadable PDF or on the site with links to animations and interactive programs that simulate ion channels and excitable membranes.
An incredible site with images, movies, and animations that illustrate many facets of fly biology. This site is easy to navigate and the information would be very valuable for students or teachers of courses in developmental biology. This site provides tools for understanding fruit fly biology and the use of these genetically tractable organisms for understanding complex developmental processes. The information is well organized and users can browse or search for information on specific topics. Using studies conducted on the development of Drosophila melanogaster, FlyMove offers a variety of interactive and multimedia tools that can aid in comprehending complex developmental processes. Specifically, the site focuses on the principles of classic genetics, organogenesis, overviews of the development process and its stages, and common laboratory methods of monitoring development. The site is maintained by Christian Klämbt and his team from the Institut für Neurobiologie.
Foldit is a freely downloadable protein folding computer game that uses players’ puzzle-solving abilities to gather information for the development of protein structure prediction programs. Information in the “About” section of the site gives an overview of the factors that influence protein folding and why it is important for scientists to understand protein folding. A series of introductory-level puzzles familiarizes players with the game’s commands and teaches them how to use these commands to manipulate the peptide backbone and side chains to find the most stable conformation of sample proteins. Players can then move on to more difficult puzzles in which they optimize folding energetics by moving side chains to reduce steric interactions or minimize the salvation of hydrophobic side chains, or bending the peptide backbone to alter helix packing. Foldit was developed by researchers from several labs in the Departments of Biochemistry and Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington as part of Rosetta@home, a distributed computing project that enlists volunteers to donate computing time from their personal computers to aid in the effort to develop algorithms for accurately predicting 3-dimensional protein structures. Users may play without registering, but must complete a short, free registration process if they would like to compete against other players, join teams of players, or post comments in the forum.
Genes to Cognition (G2C) Online
Genes to Cognition (G2C) Online was developed by the Dolan DNA Learning Center as an online learning resource to complement the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute's Genes to Cognition neuroscience research program. Geared toward students, patients, and the general public, the material on this site is appropriate for teaching high school or college students about neuroscience research. The site's interactive resources are grouped into three broad categories on the main page: Disorders, Cognitive Processes, and Research Approaches. Users can choose from the Disorders menu to explore the site's contents by relevance to autism, Alzheimer's Disease, schizophrenia, or other neurologic and neurodevelopmental disorders, or access information on cognitive processes, such as how the brain processes language, sensory information, or memories. Research Approaches includes information about experimental approaches and model systems used to explore the genetic and physiological causes of cognitive disorders. Information on each topic in these three broad categories is subdivided into six sections: Genes, Biochemicals, Cells, Brain Anatomy, Cognition, and Environment. These sections provide interactive chromosome maps of disease-associated loci, videos in which experts discuss neuroscience concepts, videos that illustrate experiments, animated tutorials about the biochemical and cell biological causes of cognitive disorders, and interactive exercises in which users can choose parameters and run virtual genetics experiments with model organisms. Other features include an interactive 3D map of the human brain, a glossary of neuroscience and cell biology terms, a protein-protein interaction database, and a Teacher Feature section that provides classroom exercises and lesson plans. Genes to Cognition is funded by the Dana Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
This is the homepage for the GENESIS simulation system. "GENESIS (short for GEneral NEural SImulation System) is a general purpose simulation platform which was developed to support the simulation of neural systems ranging from complex models of single neurons to simulations of large networks made up of more abstract neuronal components." The site includes lectures on computational neuroscience and information for using GENESIS in teaching undergraduate neuroscience. The site is maintained by Caltech.
Immunology Course Materials and Animations at Davidson College
This site, maintained by A. Malcolm Campbell for the Immunology course at Davidson College, contains a short series of lectures on chemokines, as well as many terrific Flash movies pertinent to immunology, including one on IP3 and Ca2+ as second messengers, and one on the MAP Kinase Signal Transduction Pathway.
Inside Cancer
Inside Cancer is a multimedia, interactive guide to cancer cell biology intended to inform the general public and teach elementary and high school students about the biology, pathology, and treatment of cancer, although the material would also be appropriate for teaching introductory biological concepts to undergraduate students. The site is divided into four modules – "Hallmarks of Cancer," "Causes and Prevention," "Diagnosis and Treatment," and "Pathways to Cancer" – that concern the biology, morphology, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. Each module combines slides, animations, video, and audio into interactive presentations to introduce the viewer to fundamental concepts in cancer biology and treatment. "Pathways to Cancer" uses the Ras pathway to illustrate the important role of cell signaling in cancer biology. This section includes an overview of cell signaling, signal reception at the cell surface, signal transduction inside the cell, and gene regulation by transcription factors. At the end of each animation, users are shown interactive images from the animation through which they can access information about individual molecules. In the "Hallmarks of Cancer" section, slideshows on uncontrolled growth, immortalization, and angiogenesis offer a conceptual overview of the central importance of cell signaling in cancer. "Diagnosis and Treatment" includes materials relevant to specific cell signaling pathways, such as slideshows about estrogen receptor blockers used to treat breast cancer and the mechanism of action of the chemotherapeutics Gleevec and Irressa. The Molecule Menu, accessible from every section of the site, contains brief reference information about molecules and terminology used in the slideshows. This site was produced by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Dolan DNA Learning Center.
Kimball's Biology Pages - Cell Signaling
Dr. John W. Kimball's Biology Pages form an online biology textbook, with each topic outlined in a series of essays hyperlinked to other relevant topics so as to emphasize the interconnectedness of the different disciplines of biology. The section on Cell Signaling has sections on steroid receptors, nitric oxide receptors, GPCRs, cytokine receptors, and more.
Leffingwell & Associates Site on Chemoreception
If you are interested in olfaction, this site has links to lots of useful material for the preparation of lectures. Some of the material is interactive, especially the demos, allowing the students to explore this interesting mode of sensory perception.
MicroArray Genome Imaging and Clustering Tool
The MicroArray Genome Imaging and Clustering Tool (MAGIC) Tool is free software that allows students and faculty to analyze DNA or protein microarray data. MAGIC Tool works on all computer platforms (PC, Macintosh, Linux, Solaris). The web site offers raw data tiff files (large and small sizes) for beginners and advanced users. PDF versions of user's guide, instructor's guide, math explanations, and a tutorial are all freely available. MAGIC tool is intended to be easy to use, permitting students to understand how data are analyzed. Several data can be clustered or explored in several novel and dynamic ways.
Molecular Biology Web Book
The Molecular Biology Web Book provides basic introductory material on cell and molecular biology, with numerous links to free online review articles for more detailed investigation of topics of interest. Chapter 6, Cell Signaling and Apoptosis, is likely to be of particular interest to students of cell signaling.
Molecular Medicine
This site is the ambitious work of Daniele Focosi and is similar to an online course, but not quite as detailed. Some descriptions and phrases are not those most commonly used by experts in the field of cellular signaling. The signaling section has an emphasis on immune signaling and cytokines. The site relies on hyperlinks to outside sources for additional information and details. provides links to animations that illustrate molecular and cellular events as well as a series of tutorials life scientists who would like to create their own 3D animations. The animations featured on the site are useful as teaching or learning tools for high school through college levels, or for scientists who would like to brush up on topics outside their field of expertise. Topics include receptor tyrosine kinases, apoptosis, and cell adhesion. The tutorials provide instructions and tips for using various animation software, including Maya, After Effects, and Cinema 4D. The tutorials are in PDF or video format and are organized by topic, by animation software, and by animator skill level. The site also includes free tools for using the Autodesk Maya animation software for molecular animations.
MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity
This joint project between the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the University of Bristol seeks to advance understanding of synaptic plasticity and includes information about the research themes that are currently being pursued by members. For the student or educator, this site has a wealth of information about glutamate receptors. The textual information is supplemented extensively with short Flash animations. Researchers will also find useful the information about pharmacological tools and transgenic animals.
A Resource for Complex Physiological Signals. Includes a database of signal recordings such as EKG and EEGs as well as software for the analysis of the data and creation of synthetic recordings. This is a potentially powerful resource for a medical school instructor.
Plant Genome Research Outreach Portal
The Plant Genome Research Outreach Portal (PGROP) is part of the Plant Genome Database and brings together a number of links to sites that have educational information about plants and ongoing genome projects. This is a broad collection of materials describing classroom activities, laboratory exercises, teaching tools, courses and databases. For researchers, PGROP provides links to expressed sequence tag (EST) and genome project web sites, databases, and species web sites. The site includes information targeted to various non-specialist audiences--high school, college, or graduate-level students, general audiences, journalists, and educators—as well as plant researchers. Users can search the list of links or browse them by species, topic, or target audience.
Protein Modules and Signal Transduction Cascades from the Pawson Lab
The Pawson lab studies the mechanisms that underlie signal transduction. The pages on protein domains involved in signal transduction provide descriptions and images of the structure of these domains as well as useful descriptions of the recognition sequences and functions of proteins with these domains. The information about how specificity is achieved in signal transduction cascades also contains many wonderful figures depicting various signaling pathways. There are also links to information about mass spectrometry and links to the several research-related databases.
Protein Structure and Structural Bioinformatics
The Protein Structure and Structural Bioinformatics site provides an overview of some of the principles of protein structure and the experimental determination of protein structures. Sections on structural and chemical properties of amino acids, protein domains and folds, and sequence alignments provide a guide to the basics of protein structural biology. The section on structure-based drug design explains how structural information can be used to generate candidate compounds for testing or to optimize existing compounds. There are also guides for methods used in modeling and x-ray crystallography and tutorials on performing sequence alignments and homology modeling. A section on Nobel Prizes highlights those awarded to researchers for solving protein structures and for findings related to the principles and experimental methods that make protein structure determination possible. A collection of links includes databases of protein structures and tools for performing sequence alignments and for modeling protein structures. The site is authored by Salam Al-Karadaghi and is based on the structural bioinformatics course that he teaches in the Department of Biochemistry and Structural Biology at Lund University in Sweden.
Signal Transduction from the THCME Biochemistry Page
This site is part of the The Medical Biochemistry Pages. It contains undergraduate level descriptions of signal transduction. It is a good beginner's guide to signal transduction.
Synapse Web
Synapse Web, created by the laboratory of Kristen M. Harris from the Program in Synapses & Cell Signaling at the Medical College of Georgia, provides an abundance of information concerning the structural basis of synaptic function. The site includes an atlas of ultrastructual neurocytology (created by Dr. Josef Spacek), beautiful images of brain structures and cells (from Nissl-stained sections of hippocampus to Golgi-stained pyrmaidal cells to 3D reconstructions of dendritic spines), tutorials, and a suite of tools for the analysis and 3D reconstruction of structures from serial sections.
Synaptic Transmission: A Four Step Process
A teaching and learning resource by the Multimedia Neuroscience Education Project. The site includes animations and descriptions of various aspects neuronal signaling processes. The site requires the RealPlayer plug in and provides links to get the needed free software.
The Biochemistry of Metabolism
The Biochemistry of Metabolism site, created by Joyce J. Diwan and Joseph T. Warden at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, provides materials to be used in teaching various aspects of metabolism in a studio class format. Of particular interest to cell signaling aficionados are the sections on membrane transport, K+ channels, calcium signals, and signal transduction. The studio class format, which depends on internet access for small groups of students, intersperses short lectures with discussions, presentations, and computer-based exercises. The material at the site includes lecture notes, slide presentations, animations, self-study quizzes, Chime and RasMol-based molecular visualization tools, and an interactive tutorial of biochemistry simulations created by Harry Roy.
The Biology Project
The Biology Project of the University of Arizona is dedicated to improving the understanding of biology worldwide. The Biology Project provides interactive learning materials appropriate to students at various levels, including tutorials and problem sets on Cell Signaling and The Cell Cycle and Mitosis, as well as lesson plans and activities for high school and middle school teachers.
The Genetic Science Learning Center
The Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah offers a wealth of learning resources on the topics of genetics and cell and molecular biology. The materials include illustrations, animations, and interactive graphics and are divided into sections based on subject or type of resource, with some of the materials present in more than one section. The resources most relevant to teachers and students of cell signaling are in the "Amazing Cells" section, which focuses on how and why cells communicate. For example, the "Dropping Signals" interactive graphic includes animations that illustrate the effects of four different signals (light, nitric oxide, cytokines, or hormones) on five different cell types (muscle, photoreceptor, cancer, fibroblast, or leaf cell). An interactive cell biology atlas allows users to explore subcellular compartments and components in both plant and animals cells, and there are multimedia collections, including illustrations, movies, and animations, that describe intracellular transport, membrane biology, and the results of cell signaling disruption. In addition to cell signaling resources, teaching aids are also available for other topics, including epigenetics, personalized medicine, and technologies used in genetics and molecular biology research. "Virtual Labs" are animations that illustrate laboratory techniques, such as extracting DNA from cheek cells, PCR, gel electrophoresis, and using microarrays. The Genetic Science Learning Center also provides activities, worksheets, graphics, and other printable materials that complement the interactive resources so that teachers can reinforce and extend the concepts introduced in the interactive features. The materials provided on the site are appropriate for K-12 and the general public.
The Lipid Library
This site is devoted to the biochemistry of lipids and includes a lipid classification and nomenclature scheme, as well as detailed information about lipid structure and analysis methods. Signaling researchers and students will find the pages in the section called All about Lipids especially useful.
The Medical Biochemistry Page
The Medical Biochemistry site, created by Michael W. King, professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, has brief discussions of many topics pertaining to cell signaling. In addition to the Signal Transduction page, which discusses the different types of signal transduction receptors, the Medical Biochemistry site includes pages on steroid and peptide hormones, neurotransmission, growth factors and cytokines, Wnt signaling, and cancer.
The Ras Oncogene Product
This site presents an online lecture about the Ras Oncogene. The material emphasizes the structural basis behind oncogenic transformation and requires the CHIME plug-in for its interactive capabilities. The molecular basis of oncogenesis caused by Ras Oncogene is presented as an example of the principles behind oncogenic mutations. The site was created and maintained by Frank R. Gorga, Ph.D. at Bridgewater State College and was written to be used as a "special topics" lecture for an (undergraduate) Biochemistry course.
Understanding Evolution for Teachers
Understanding Evolution for Teachers has a wealth of information for educators teaching evolution at the K-12 levels or anyone who wants to brush up on evolutionary theory and interpreting phylogenetic trees. The "Learning Evolution" section includes information about evolutionary theory and evidence, and spells out some of the commonly held misconceptions about evolution. This section is valuable for preparing the educator with background information and offers lesson plans for teaching basic scientific concepts and evolutionary theory. The "Teaching Evolution" section includes lesson plans and teaching aids plus tips for handling potential controversy and strategies for avoiding confusion in the classroom. The collection of lesson plans is searchable, and includes classroom activities, web activities, interactive online tutorials, videos, articles, comics, and interviews with scientists. Understanding Evolution for Teachers is a subsite within Understanding Evolution which includes additional information on evolutionary theory, plus news, researcher profiles, and methods used to study evolution. Understanding Evolution is produced by the University of California Museum of Paleontology.
UNSW Embryology
With information, images, and movies showing the embryonic development of 14 different species, including humans and many model organisms, this site is valuable for anyone learning about or teaching developmental biology. The organisms covered include, human, bat, cow, chicken, echidna (an egg-laying mammal, fly, frog, Guinea pig, mouse, platypus, rabbit, rat, worm, and zebrafish. The site includes lecture notes, online activities, suggested reading lists, and a glossary of developmental and genetic terms. This site is the work of Mark Hill at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
WormClassroom is an effort by the University of Wisconsin to enhance undergraduate teaching using resources related to the model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans, a nematode worm. The site provides online resources, mostly image- and movie-based, along with descriptions or exercises for integration of such resources in undergraduate biology teaching. The goal is to better expose students to scientific methods and research data by providing materials to bridge the gap between research and education. Example exercises in the Educators section include descriptions of how C. elegans has been used in courses, including descriptions of how this model organism can be used to allow students to explore responsiveness to stimuli or genes involved in the control of motility or vulval development.