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BIOL 155

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Biology of Aging (Biology 155) Fall 2013

Instructor:  Dr. James A. Strauss

Biology 155
114 Mueller Lab
MWF 10:10‐11:00

60 Willard Building

Office Hours: MWF 11:00‐12:00 or by appointment


Biology 155 Course Topics By Date
DiGiovanna Chapter
Aug. 26 
Course Introduction/Terms and Definitions: an overview of the aging process
28 Terms and Definitions: an overview of the aging process 1
30 Study designs for aging research 
Sept. 2  


Study designs for aging research 2
6 Animal Models of aging
9 Animal Models of aging
11 Theories of Aging
13 Theories of Aging 
16 QUIZ 1
18 Aging and Population Demography
20 Aging and Population Demography  
23 Cancer and Aging
25 Overview of the Nervous System 6
27 Overview of the Nervous System
30 Nervous System and Aging
Oct. 2 Nervous System and Aging 6
4 QUIZ 2


9 Overview of the Eye
11 The Eye and Aging
14 Overview of the Ear
16 The Ear and Aging
18 Overview of the Cardiovascular System 
21 The Cardiovascular System and Aging 4
23 The Cardiovascular System and Aging 4
25 The Cardiovascular System and Aging 4
28 QUIZ 3
30 Overview of the Respiratory System  
Nov. 1 Respiratory System and Aging
4 Muscular System and Aging
6 Skeletal  System and Aging
8 Skeletal  System and Aging
11 Overview of the Integumentary System 3
13 The Integumentary System and Aging
15 QUIZ 4
18 Film or Presentation
20 Overview of the Reproductive System 12,13
22 The Reproductive System and Aging 
Dec. 2 The Reproductive System and Aging
4 Overview of the Endocrine System
6 Endocrine System and Aging 14
9 Endocrine System and Aging 14
11 Body Mass Index/Review
13 QUIZ 5

Final Comprehensive Quiz (Scheduled During Dec 16-20)

TEXT: Human Aging: Biological Perspectives, Augustine Digiovanna, 2nd edition, 2000, McGraw Hill Biology 155 Note Packet and Study Guide, Strauss 2013, Student Book Store (optional)

Additional articles on specific aging topics will be put on the web for reading assignments


Course Description:

Biology 155 is a 3 credit lecture course designed to give both science and non‐science majors a basic understanding of the aging process, with special emphasis on aging as it relates to the human body and health.  The course reviews the aging terminology, major theories of the aging process, demography of aging, and the general aging of the major body systems.  The course will emphasize common clinical ailments associated with aging including Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, and cancer.


Learning Objectives:

Mastery of the first third of the course will include understanding important aging terminology, methods of measuring aging, current theories of the aging process, and research models used to study aging. The later two thirds of the course will review aging as related to specific body systems. As such, portions of lectures in the later portion of the course will review normal anatomy (structure naming and diagrams) and physiology (body function) of these body systems, including frank discussions of reproductive system anatomy and function.  In this later section, details of both senescence and age‐related disease processes will be discussed.  As such, students will be expected to understand common clinical ailments associated with aging including Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, and cancer, and discuss treatments and potential preventions for these disorders.  A goal of the course is to develop a functional understanding of how our bodies change over time, a perspective on major diseases that affect our aging bodies, and how long‐term, healthy living strategies and interventions started during younger life, can potentially prolong life and add additional healthy years to our lifespan.



Please note, our college enforces an Academic Integrity Policy.  You are responsible for reviewing this policy and following the conduct criteria. Cheating on examinations as defined by this policy will not be tolerated and could have severe ramifications on your course grade and academic

record.  A complete document for review is available (

students/Integrity/Policy.html.) Additionally, our college has adopted a “Code of Mutual

Respect and Cooperation Policy” that outlines positive student behaviors and personal conduct expectations. It is available for your review (‐of‐mutual‐respect‐and‐cooperation)  Your course grade is based upon 350 points: 250 quiz points (5, 50 pt quizzes), 75 active learning problem assignments points (5, 15 point assignments), and 25 attendance points.  There will be 5 in‐semester quizzes, each worth 50 points and a final comprehensive quiz worth 50 points, that can be used to replace your low quiz score.  Each 50 pt quiz will be multiple choice in nature, emphasizing the material covered by the lecture and text.  Additionally, there will be five, 15 point active learning problem solving assignments. You are also permitted to, and in fact, encouraged to work on the active learning problem assignments collaboratively, with a small group of students, although each student is expected to turn in their own, individual paper for a grade.  Finally, 25 points will come from unannounced spot checks of class attendance that might be combined with brief, in‐class assignments..  "A" grades will start at 90%, B's at 80%, C's at 70%, D's at 60%, and F's below 60% and according to University policy, the +/‐ grade system will be in effect. Be prepared to do the work necessary for the grade you wish to receive!  (No Whining!)  If students must miss an exam, an honest and responsible excuse must be presented to and approved by Dr. Strauss prior to the exam.



Experience has proven that a good starting point for success in this course is to regularly attend lectures and review sessions.  The exams draw heavily from the material presented in lecture and in the past, Nittany Notes have proven to be a poor substitution for missing lectures.  Dr. Strauss reserves the right to factor attendance and participation into your final course grade.  Students are also responsible for information and announcements delivered during lectures.  Dr. Strauss reserves the right to change the order of lecture topics and alter exam scheduling.   If this becomes necessary, reasonable notice will be provided.

Use of e‐mail:

Dr. Strauss reads his e‐mail daily and students can use this communication tool to obtain brief answers to limited questions on course content (laundry lists will not be addressed) as well as alert Dr. Strauss to attendance issues, exam scoring errors, or other personal issues dealing with the course. Students are encouraged to see Dr. Strauss or his TA directly to deal with more extensive study concept, grade, advising, or personal issues.  Dr. Strauss also answers his phone!  If you send Dr. Strauss an e‐mail, please put “Bio 155” in the subject, so your e‐mail is not discarded as spam.  Turn around time is usually within a day; be aware that if your e‐mail was not answered, it could be that it was inadvertently discarded by a filter, so please try again.  Please consider that e‐mail questions asked the evening before an exam might not be answered before taking the exam; so plan to ask questions in a timely manner!


Disability Statement:

“Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. If you have a disability‐related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, contact the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 814‐863‐1807 (V/TTY). For further information regarding ODS, please visit the Office for Disability Services Web site (

In order to receive consideration for course accommodations, you must contact ODS and provide documentation.  See the documentation guidelines here. (‐guidelines). If the documentation supports the need for academic adjustments, ODS will provide a letter identifying appropriate academic adjustments. Please share this letter and discuss the adjustments with your instructor as early in the course as possible. You must contact ODS and request academic adjustment letters at the beginning of each semester.”


Tips for success in this course:

1. Regular attendance of lecture. 2. Reading the text assignment prior to lecture aids in understanding lecture presentations and helps to focus your study efforts. 3. Do not do all your studying the night before the exam.  Most Biology courses require you to develop an extensive vocabulary, memorize complex processes, and sometimes apply concepts in problem solving situations.  If you procrastinate, there will be too much material to learn in one or two evenings.   Successful students study course materials several times a week, sometimes daily!  Long, marathon study sessions are often counter productive. 4. Focus on the big picture!  Try to organize material by topics, systems, and concepts.  Unlike some courses, line item memorization will not guarantee a good grade.  You will be expected to organize topics into the larger picture and sometimes apply concepts in problem solving situations. 6. The course study guide has a list of learning objectives at the beginning of each study topic.  Once you have studied that particular topic (reviewing notes and reading the textbook), if you understand the material, you should be able to write out answers to these questions without consulting material found in notes, handouts, or the textbook.  This is an excellent study gauge! 5. Consider working with a partner or small group.  While this is not for everyone, this often helps to focus your studying efforts and may offer different perspectives that you might not consider alone. 6. If you having difficulty with the course, or your exam grades are not up to expectations, get assistance and studying advice early in the semester, either from a teaching assistant or Dr. Strauss!