Institute for Aging Research

Biology of Aging Graduate Course

Course Leaders: Ana Maria Cuervo, MD, PhD and Nir Barzilai, MD

Course hours: 30h

Credits: 2 credits

Meetings: 12 formal classes (2h classes/ 2 times a week) plus a “hot topic” talk and 2 journal clubs

Recommended Background: Undergraduate courses in Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Genetics and Statistics.

Suitability: All graduate and MSTP students may enroll

Course Description: 

Why do we get old? Is aging a disease or a physiological stage in life? As the percentage of aging population grows, under what has been termed as “global aging”, the need to understand the peculiarities of the aging process increases and has become a priority for public health. The common goal of aging researchers is being able to extend the healthy active years of life. Research in Biology of Aging is in exponential expansion because this field has benefit in recent years from the advances in many other areas of research going from genetics to cell biology, biochemistry of proteins, systems biology, etc. Furthermore, classical studies of genetics of longevity in laboratory species are now escalating to humans, thus making possible a better understanding of both physiological aging and age-related diseases.

This course presents an in-depth analysis of the biology of aging, building up from changes occurring at the molecular and cellular level and analyzing the consequences at the organism level. In addition, the influence of these age-related changes in what are commonly considered a disease of aging, such as neurodegeneration, diabetes, etc, will also be discussed. Topics will include : theories of aging, experimental models used to study of aging and longevity, impact of oxidative stress in cell and organ function, the metabolic syndrome of aging, functional changes in the immune, musculoskeletal and central nervous systems, genetic instability and genetics of aging and longevity.

The goal of this course is to motivate an interest among our graduates for problems in biology of aging and to prepare them for the growing demand for future generations of aging researchers.

Course format: 

Every class will be taught by experts of our faculty working on the topic in question. An external expert will be brought every year to cover aspects of biology of aging that are not currently part of the expertise of our faculty. Two journal-club format classes will evaluate research papers in two different areas of research every year. Grading will be based upon a combination of participation in class discussions and a final exam.

Course Schedule: 

Classes Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:30 – 5pm, Belfer Buiding Room 1001 

Lecture 1. Course Presentation. Introduction to Biology of Aging/Theories of Aging (Cuervo+ Barzilai)

Lecture 2. Organelle Homeostasis and Aging (Snapp)

Lecture 3. Protein Homeostasis, Quality Control and Aging (Cuervo) 

Journal Club: Research Paper in Molecular Basis of Aging (Cuervo)

Lecture 4. Oxidative Stress in Aging (Brownlee)

Lecture 5. The GH/IGF-1 axis in Aging (Muzumdar)

Lecture 6. Aging of the Musculoskeletal Systems (Nair)

Lecture 8. Immunosenescence (Macian) 

Lecture 9. Genetic of Aging and Exceptional Longevity (Barzilai+Suh)

Lecture 10. Hot topic. Sirtuins, aging and age-related disease (Guarente)

Lecture 11. Genome Maintainace and Steochastic Events in Cellular Aging (Vij)

Special Lecture: Opportunities in Aging Research (Sierra)

Lecture 12. Systems Biology of Aging (Bergman)

Journal Club: Research Paper in genetics or age-related diseases (Barzilai)

Review: Cuervo, Barzilai. Take home exam. Due date: Dec 10

Course Textbooks:  

Hand book of the Biology of Aging (Masoro EJ and Austad SN), 2006

Molecular Biology of Aging (Guarente L, Partridge L, Wallace, D), 2008* 

Other Resourcers (selected chapters): 

The Encyclopedia of Aging (Schulz,R, Noelker LS, Rockwood K and Sprott R.), 2006*

Biopsychosocial approaches to longevity (Poon, LW and Perls, TT), 2008* 

Aging and age-related diseases: the basics (Karasek, M), 2006* 

Review of Medical Physiology (Ganong WF), 2005* 

Molecular Biology of the Cell (Alberts B et al.), 2008* 

Genetics from Genes to Genomes (Hartwell L), 2008*

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