Syllabus and Faculty Contacts



SecondLook™ Needs Your Support:

Please support the SecondLook™ initiative with a donation to our Michigan Medicine SecondLook™ Donation Champaign(link is external). Your donation will enable us to update all existing SecondLook™ resources and to transform them into completely free Progressive Web Applications (PWA), including the SecondLook™Histology apps. It will also benefit the publication of several new topics (Hematology, Pathogen ID, and Gross Anatomy). Any size contribution is welcomed and will help us to provide these popular review tools to students at the University of Michigan and to many more worldwide.


Access to the supplemental resources for this session is password-protected and restricted to University of Michigan students. If you are a University of Michigan student enrolled in a histology course at the University of Michigan, please click on the following link and use your Kerberos-password for access to download lecture handouts and the other resources.

Resources in the University of Michigan Histology Dropbox

This course will explore cells and tissues of the human body (histology or micro-anatomy) by the use of various microscopic techniques.  Special emphasis will be placed on the structure-function relationship in different tissues and organs and the role of stem cells in tissue regeneration.  The lectures will be supplemented by the practical analysis of various organs, tissues and cells using virtual microscopy.  This course is geared towards graduate and upper level undergraduate students with an interest in the biomedical sciences and with a basic knowledge in cell biology and/or biochemistry. At the end of the course students should be able to recognize and interpret microscopic tissue images and understand how the cellular organization of organs enables them to perform their specific functions.

By the end of the year, we hope that you have acquired a reasonable working knowledge of:

  1. how cells associate to perform the functions for which they are specialized, and
  2. how organized groups of cells (tissues) are arranged to form the organ systems of the body.

While the emphasis in histology is on the structure of cells, tissues and organs, structure has very little meaning without understanding the function, much of which is also presented in the other components of the curriculum. There is an emphasis to teach comparable subjects at about the same time, and we ask that you try and correlate structure and function. Most diseases cause structural abnormalities that result in the problems with which you, as a physician, must contend. One reason for studying histology (the normal structure) is so that you can better understand a pathological (abnormal) change and the consequences of that change.

You will be spending most of your time studying two dimensional sections of three dimensional structures, and will encounter a number of atypical perspectives caused by the plane of section (Imagine that you are sectioning an orange in sagittal, parasagittal, equatorial and diagonal planes. The appearance of the orange sections is quite different depending upon the plane of section--the same variation in appearance occurs in tissue and organs because of the angle of sectioning). Try to find a typical perspective for your introduction to a new tissue or organ (use your atlas as a guide). Then try to imagine what it would look like in three dimensions.

24 meetings of 2 contact hours (MO and TH from 4 to 6 pm), most lectures will be followed by a 10 to 25 minute lecture-style laboratory segment (adding up to 2 hours per session). The lab introduction will prepare students for the virtual microscopy on the Michigan Histology website. The lab introductions provide demonstrations of the material covered by the lecture and allows for a deeper understanding of the basic concepts. The course provides contact hours per week and is offered for 4 credits. After the lecture/lab sessions all students are expected to use the course website, which contains instructions and laboratory tasks, as well as supplementary learning resources, to deepen their understanding of the material and to develop their skills of identifying histological structures. 

You are expected to learn histology by learning the lecture material AND by studying the slides of tissues and organs using virtual microscopy on the Michigan Histology website. The other items of materials, listed below and in the Looking Glass Histology M+Box, should serve as the sources of information necessary for you to understand the functional significance of the structures that you view in the virtual images. A link to download the SecondLook™ Histology mobile review application will be provided to you in the first introductory lecture or you can download the complete (not the Basic Tissue app) SecondLook™ mobile all from the iTunes or the Google Play stores. The use of one of the following textbooks is also recommended (older editions will serve equally well):

Wheater's Functional Histology, 6th ed., Elsevier, 2014 by B. Young et al.

or Histology: A Text and Atlas, 8th ed., LWW, 2020 by W. Pawlina.

or Color Textbook of Histology, 3th ed, Saunders/Elsevier, 2007 by L.P. Gartner and J.L. Hiatt

or Histology - An Essential Textbook, 1st ed, Thieme, 2020 by D.J. Lowrie

Please, consult your daily calendar for each lecture and its location. The lecture should serve as a study guide for each topic area. The lecture contents should also serve as a guide for the exam and quiz questions. Lecture handouts and other supplementary material are available in the Michigan Histology M+Box. Please note that the lecture handout contains copyrighted material that can only be used legally under the fair use clause within this course. Do not pass this material to other people, who are not enrolled in this course. It would be very useful to read the relevant text chapter and the learning objectives before lecture.

Two examinations, one midterm and one final, and six quizzes will all be open book (the subject of the day of a quiz will be covered in the next quiz).  Quizzes will cover the last three to five lecture topics before the quiz with four questions per lecture topic (about 96 total quiz questions).  Midterm and final exam will be about 50 questions each + 4 more difficult bonus questions.  This will add up to a total of about 196 questions + 8 more difficult bonus questions. Quizzes and exams will be open book. However, using the Internet is not allowed.  All questions will have a multiple-choice format and most will be image-based.  The images and questions contained in the quizzes and exams may not be copied or distributed and violations of this policy will be considered honor code violations. Quizzes and the two Examinations will use the course Canvas site. Quizzes will start exactly at 4 pm EST on the day they are scheduled. It is the student's responsibility to inform the course director ahead of time when they have a time conflict or in case they are sick.

Graduate students, who are taking the course as CDB 550, will have an additional writing requirement:  To receive CDB 550 credit, each student must formulate 2 sets of 5 multiple choice questions, each set covering the first half and the second half of the course respectively.  Each question should have only one indisputably correct answer.  Only one question in each set may be a true/false questions, all other question should have at least 4 possible answers.  Only one question in each set may be a pure text question, all other questions should include and require an image (either light microscope, electron microscope or a drawing).  Each of 5 questions in each set should represent a different lecture topic.  Please submit your two sets of questions as a Word file to the GSI by the end of the day of the midterm and the final examination, respectively.  Late submissions may result in a point reduction.  Questions, which combine identification tasks with functional aspects of the cells and tissues involved will be rated higher than questions, which address only one aspect.  Other important points will be clarity of the question posed, equal credibility of the different possible answers and the relevance and importance of the concept tested.  For each question, include not only the correct answer, but also very short statement, why this is the correct answer (often one or two sentences will suffice). 

To receive CDB 550 credit, each student must formulate 2 sets of 5 multiple choice questions, each set covering the first half and the second half of the course respectively. Each question will be worth up to 5 points for a total of 50 points for all 10 problems.

A) Each question should have only one indisputably correct answer.

B) Only one question in each set may be a true/false question, all other questions must be multiple choice with at least 4 possible and realistic answers.

C) One question in each set may be a pure text question. All other questions must include an image (either light micrograph, electron micrograph, or a drawing), and the image must be essential for answering the question. You must provide the complete source of the image (if the image was acquired from a lecture, include the title and author of the lecture, the slide # the image came from, the tissue/structure the image is depicting, etc).

D) Each of the 5 questions must represent a different lecture topic.

E) 4 of the 5 questions must qualify as 2-step questions. E.g., they might combine an identification tasks with functional aspects about the cells and/or tissue involved.

F) For each question, include not only the correct answer, but also a short explanation why it is correct (1-2 sentences will usually suffice).

G) Your questions must be submitted to Mayowa Akinwale ( in a single MS Word file by 11:59 pm EST on the official day of the midterm and final examination, respectively. This deadline does NOT change even if you take either examination on a different day. Make sure that the file name includes your name. Also put your name and UMID on top of the document.

H) Late submissions or submissions in a different format will incur point deductions.

I) Other important details that will be judged will be the clarity of the question posed, equal credibility of the different possible answers and the relevance and importance of the concept tested.

J) No or reduced credit will be given for questions that paraphrase existing problems from the histology webpage, the SecondLook series, textbooks, or other sources. In extreme cases this will be regarded as plagiarism and result in a zero for the assignment.

If you have a histology question, see the faculty member responsible for the lecture or the course director.  

Electron Micrographs: The digital EM images on the webpage are for the most part, micrographs provided by Dr. Johannes A. G. Rhodin, who also authored "An Atlas of Histology" (Oxford Press, 1974). Remember that the material contained herein is copyrighted, and it is intended to be used by University of Michigan histology students only.  More detailed comments on electron micrographs appear at the end of the Epithelia section (the first lesson in this laboratory guide).

Successful completion of ONE of the following or an equivalent course is a prerequisite and exceptions are at the digression of the course directors: AT 310/PHYSED 310; BIOLOGY 172, 174, 208, 225 or 305; BIOLCHEM 212 or 415; BIOMEDE 231, 321 or 403; CHEM 351; MCDB 306, 308, 310 or 428; NURS 210 or PHYSIOL 201. Admission will be limited with preference given to graduate and senior undergraduate students.  Undergraduate students should sign up under the CDB 450 number, but may also enroll at the CDB 550 level. If in doubt, consult the course director.  As the Rackham Graduate School will only recognize 500 level courses for any graduate degree, all graduate students should enroll under the CDB 550 number.

Please note that this course has reverted to in-person. Lectures and Lab Introductions are presented MO or TH from 4 to 6 pm in the West Medical Lecture Hall of the Med. Sci 2 Building on the preclinical medical campus. Unless other arrangements are made with the course director, quizzes and examinations have to be taken in-person synchronous during the course hours in the lecture hall or the reserved computer space. For further information, please contact Dr. Hortsch (

Course Director

Michael Hortsch
Dr. Michael Hortsch


Mayowa Akinwale