COVID-19 information and resources
Douglas College wordmark
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Snapchat logo YouTube logo Wordpress logo
back to search


Course Code: BIOL 4101
Faculty: Science & Technology
Department: Biology
Credits: 4.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course explores the biological mechanisms that underlie the aging process. Topics include an introduction to the biology of aging, the evolutionary reasons for aging, aging at the cellular level, the genetics of longevity in both animal and plant models, the physiology of human aging, age-related human diseases and modulation of human aging.

Course Content

1. Overview Age Biology

  • Introduction to biogerontology
  • Why are animal models used
  • Comparative biogerontology
  • Measuring aging in the individual
  • Measuring aging in a population

2. Evolutionary Theories of Longevity and Aging

  • Review of key principles of evolutionary and population genetics
  • Application of evolutionary principles to longevity and aging
  • Evolutionary models of longevity

3. Cellular Aging

  • Review of cell cycle and cell division
  • Regulation of the cell cycle
  • Replicative senescence in animals and plants
  • Mechanisms that cause cellular aging including the accumulation of damaged biomolecules, damage from oxidative stress and telomere shortening

4. Genetics of Longevity

  • Overview of eukaryotic gene expression
  • Regulation of eukaryotic gene expression
  • Genetic regulation of longevity in model organisms including: Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster and Mus musculus

5. Physiology of Human Aging

  • Changes in energy metabolism
  • Changes in the sensory systems
  • Changes in the digestive system
  • Changes in the excretory system
  • Changes in the immune system
  • Changes in the reproductive system

6. Age Related Disease in Humans

  • Diseases of the nervous system
  • Diseases of the cardiovascular system
  • Diseases of the endocrine system
  • Diseases of the skeletal system

7. Modulating Human Aging and Longevity

  • Discussion of current population trends in human aging and longevity
  • Discussion of current and potential future strategies for aging modulation
  • Increasing longevity through caloric restriction and physical activity
  • Implications of modulating human aging and longevity

8. Lab Activities

  • Semester-long student-led research project investigating factors that modulate lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Laboratory activities related to selected topics in human aging

Methods of Instruction


Laboratory activities

Classroom discussions

Readings from scientific journal articles

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on the following:

Evaluation Marks
Quizzes and/or assignments   15-25
Laboratory assignments  15-25
Term examinations 25-35
Final examination 25-35

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the basic principles underlying the biological process of aging

  2. Explain the reasons why aging is studied and the methods that are used to study aging

  3. Discuss current theories surrounding the evolutionary basis of aging and longevity

  4. Describe the current understanding of cellular aging mechanisms

  5. Explain the relationship between gene expression and aging

  6. Discuss how animal models are used to learn about human physiology

  7. Explain how human physiology changes with age

  8. Design a research experiment, perform the experiment, collect relevant data, and present the results

  9. Analyze and interpret scientific data, formulate hypotheses, and design future experiments that build upon the data studied

course prerequisites

BIOL 2321, BIOL 2421 and BIOL 3205



curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.