• InstructorDamian Genetos,  Associate Professor, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Prerequisites: High School Biology, or Equivalent, and at least one year of a lab science class
  • Typical Field Trips: Sacramento Zoo, UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, Veterinary Anatomy lab, UC Davis Medical Center, Center for Comparative Medicine
  • This is a FIRST CHOICE option only


The skeleton is a multifunctional organ system with unpredicted systemic influence. It offers far more than mere scaffolding—sites for muscle and tendon attachment—or a storage depot for calcium and phosphorous. Its remnants in the fossil record reveal its tremendous strength, resulting from self-organization and self-renewal. Yet, it is simultaneously elegantly sensitive to a changing mechanical and hormonal environment.

Research efforts over the past 50 years have fundamentally altered nearly all aspects of bone biology, including the prevailing stimuli which drive bone formation, the unrecognized role of osteocytes—buried deep within bone—as fundamental conductors of bone health, and interrelationships between the skeleton and heart disease, kidney dysfunction, and cancer.

In this module, students will explore the fundamentals of bone biology—the cells resident in and around bone which drive its function, formation, and remodeling; the changes in bone shape that occur during growth in utero and young adulthood; principles of bone fracture, bone quantity vs. bone quality, and how healthy bones as a young adult can predict fracture four-to-six decades later; tissue engineering strategies to heal what the body naturally cannot. Interaction with related organ systems—tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, and muscle—will also be explored. Labs will provide hands-on experience with histology, anatomy, and pathology specimens as well as games related to bone mass across the lifespan, muscles and levers, and more. Guest speakers will provide presentations and answer questions in a discussion format.  They represent a broad diversity of careers after completion of a MD, DVM, or PhD degree.