Getting Started

Welcome to BIOL 155, Introduction to the Biology of Aging. My name is Dr. James Strauss. To complete the first lesson, review all of the "Getting Started" information provided here. (Click on "Getting Started on the left sidebar and review each section of the Getting Started lesson.)

The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of the process of aging, as it relates to human physiology, health and disease processes. This course is designed for non-science majors with a limited background in biology, chemistry, and mathematics, and has no prior course prerequisites. The goals of the course are to help you as follows.

  • To arouse interest and curiosity relative to the age-related changes that take place in the human body.
  • To understand some of the causal theories of aging and understand the terminology and definitions that describe this process.
  • To develop a functional understanding of the basic body systems and describe how these systems change during the aging process.
  • To gain an understanding of the concept of body homeostasis, which is a series of normal operating set points for body systems and see how these set points are changed during the process of aging.
  • To gain an appreciation of common diseases and medical conditions associated with aging and understand how they adversely affect body functioning.
  • To gain an appreciation for the risk factors for some of the age-related disease processes and understand how some healthy lifestyle practices can help prevent premature symptoms of aging.

You are beginning what I hope turns out to be an interesting and worthwhile journey that outlines our current scientific understanding of the aging process and describes the age-related changes experienced by the human body. In all likelihood, each of us will eventually experience some of these changes as we journey through life, and we will certainly encounter older family members and friends with some of the inevitable aging symptoms and ailments described in this course. By the end of the course, it is my hope that you will develop an educational foundation for understanding the effects of human aging in the context of body function. Additionally, you should gain an understanding of basic body physiology and how aging and common body ailments affect normal body function.

If you have specific questions about the course or conceptual material, you are welcome to e-mail me at the address above. (However, you will be submitting all course assignments over the Web--this way, they can be documented and tracked.) I also accept office phone calls during regular working hours (see the number above), and have an answering machine that you may use for a message, should I be away from my desk. I will make every attempt to reply to your questions and inquiries in a timely fashion.

Welcome to the course! I look forward to working with you!