Course: BIOS 5310, Biology of Aging         

Times: Monday and Wednesday 4:00 to 5:15 PM

Location: Room 1260, Chemistry Building



John Spitsbergen, Ph.D.

Office: 3022 Haenicke Hall (laboratory).

Phone: 387-2739


Office Hours: Monday 9:00 to 10:00 AM, Tuesday and Thursday 1:00 to 2:00 PM, or by appointment.


Course Description:

Book: The Biology of Aging (3rd edition) by Robert Arking.

Lecture Notes: Available online. Through the GoWMU portal you will see a channel called e- Learning. The link in this channel will take you to the WebCT Vista home page where you can access WebCT Vista courses.

Format: Class will normally consist of lecture with additional presentations of papers on topics related to Biology of Aging.

Broad Goals:

       Understand language and terms used to describe aging and age-related changes in humans and animals.

       Become familiar with online sources for information concerning aging.

       Become familiar with life-tables and survival curves.

       Become familiar with different theories used to describe how and why we age.

       Become familiar with different types of studies used to examine the aging process.

       Learn what is meant by the term biomarker and identify which biomarkers are useful in studies on aging.

       Be able to describe genes that have been identified that are known to affect the aging process.

       Be able to describe age-related changes in organ and tissue function that occur in humans.

       Be able to describe manipulations that have been shown to alter aging and longevity.


Course Objectives:

The primary concern of this course is to understand biological aspects of human aging. By the end of the course students should be familiar with current theories used to explain the changes observed with aging, to understand the methods used to study aging and to be able to describe changes observed in human organs and tissues at the molecular, cellular, tissue and whole-animal (human) level.



2 assignments about searching for information (online using web CT).

            - 10 points each (20 points total)

8 quizzes (online using web CT).

            - 10 points each (80 points total)

4 Exams (scheduled during normal lecture time):

- 100 points each

- 50 multiple choice questions per exam, two points per question

Final exam (only need scores on 4 exams):

- 100 points

- 100 multiple choice questions per exam, one point per question

- Cumulative!

Exam Questions: Exam questions can come from lecture material, material in the book, from papers presented by Dr. Spitsbergen or papers presented by students in the class. I can (and will) add material to lectures at the last minute and students will be responsible for this material even if it does not appear in the lecture notes posted online.

Note: The majority of test questions will come from the lecture material.



Current Events Presentation: Find a recent article (in a newspaper, magazine, on the world wide web or a program on television) pertaining to an aspect of the Biology of Aging that relates to lecture material for the next exam.


Important!: Sign up for presentations with Dr. Spitsbergen. Please let me know if you are not going to use your time slot so I can open it up for other students.


1. Write a 2 page review of the article covering the following points (5 points).

A. What was the source of the story?

B. What was the purpose of the article (i.e. advertisement for health aid, informational news story, etc.)?

D. Give a brief review of the story.




2. Give a ten minute presentation in front of class, describing this article (use same format as outline above) (5 points).


Points!: 10 possible extra credit points to be added to total score at end of semester

Limit of one presentation per student (limited number of presentations so register early!).


Total Points for course  = 500


Grading Scale (all grades will be rounded to the closest whole number):


90 to 100%     A

85 to 89%       BA

80 to 84%       B

75 to 79%       CB

70 to 74%       C

65 to 69%       DC

60 to 64%       D

     £  59%       E


Class Policies:


Attendance: Attendance is not required; however, exam questions may cover material presented in class, which is not contained in the book or lecture notes.

Missed Exams: The final exam will act as a makeup exam (or replacement for low grade). The final exam will be scheduled at the normal time for this course.

Final Grade: IMPORTANT! Many of you are seniors hoping to graduate this year. If you get a failing grade in this class (less than a C) you may not be able to graduate. Therefore, if you are failing on the last day to drop, you may want to consider dropping. If you are near failing at the end of class, make sure you study hard so you do not end up failing. If you fail, donít come to me after the end of the semester to try and get your grade changed. Your final grade will not be changed after the end of the semester!

Academic Honesty: You are responsible for making yourself aware of and understanding the policies and procedures in the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs that pertain to Academic Honesty. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse. [The policies can be found at under Academic Policies, Student Rights and Responsibilities.] If there is reason to believe you have been involved in academic dishonesty, you will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. You will be given the opportunity to review the charge(s). If you believe you are not responsible, you will have the opportunity for a hearing. You should consult with me if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty prior to the submission of an assignment or test.

(The Code of Honor passed by the Faculty Senate in November 2004 and administration in December 2004, can also be found at



This is a tentative schedule which may be subject to changes throughout the semester!


Wednesday, September 5th: Discuss class syllabus, searching for information, short presentations.

Monday, September 10th: Introduction to Biology of Aging.

Wednesday, September 12th: Video: Cost of growing old in America.

Monday, September 17th: Life-tables and survival curves.

Wednesday, September 19th: Types of studies concerning aging.

Monday, September 24th: Biomarkers used to study aging.

Wednesday, September 26th: Exam 1

Monday, October 1st: Genetics of aging.

Wednesday, October 3rd: Theories of aging.

Monday, October 8th: Theories of aging II.

Wednesday, October 10th: Video: How the body ages.

Monday, October 15th: Age-related changes in skin.

Wednesday, October 17th: Exam 2

Monday, October 22nd: Age-related changes in skeletal system.

Wednesday, October 24th: Changes in muscle with age.

Monday, October 29th: Changes in cardiovascular system with age.

Wednesday, October 31st: Changes in respiratory system with age.

Monday, November 5th: Changes in gastrointestinal and excretory systems with age.

Wednesday, November 7th: Exam 3

Monday, November 12th: Changes in blood and immune system with age.

Wednesday, November 14th: Video: Learning, memory and speed of behavior.

Monday, November 19th: Changes in nervous system function with age.

Wednesday, November 21st: Thanksgiving Recess.

Monday, November 26th: Changes in nervous and sensory system with age.

Wednesday, November 28th: Changes in endocrine system with age.

Monday, December 3rd:

Wednesday, December 5th: Exam 4

Monday, December 10th: Final Exam 5-7 PM.