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Biological models of ageing


Semester 1, September 19 2016 till November 18 2016

Admission requirements
Bachelor degree and admission to Master Vitality & Ageing

Ageing can be described as “a progressive, generalized impairment of function, resulting in an increasing vulnerability to environmental challenge and a growing risk of disease and death”. Although the pathologies that accompany ageing are diverse and the rate at which it occurs differs widely between species, the universality of the ageing process suggests that common biological mechanisms may be at play. Many of the prevailing proximate theories of ageing centre on the hypothesis that the rate of ageing is determined by an intricate balance between damage accumulation and defence and repair mechanisms. From this hypothesis, it follows that analysis of the mechanisms by which this balance is regulated may reveal the regulatory axes of the ageing process and allow the development of anti-ageing therapeutics. Based on the central concept described above, this course focuses around three major themes, namely “Damage and repair and ageing”, “Neuro-endocrine regulation of lifespan” and “Modulation of lifespan”.

This course will focus as well on the biological aspects of vitality and healthy ageing. Attention will be paid to repair mechanisms, nutrition, longevity and main¬tenance of bodily functions and independence.

Course objectives
The student:

  • explains how repair and cellular defence mechanisms that evolved to protect the organism against genomic instability and cancer are related to the ageing process

  • explains how neuro-endocrine mechanisms that evolved to facilitate adaptation of the organism to its changing environment are related to the ageing process.

  • understands the potential for therapeutic interventions to modulate the rate of ageing and vitality.

Mode of instruction
Interactive lectures, tutor groups, self-study assignments

Assessment method
Written exam and oral and written assignments, in groups or individual. More information will be published on blackboard.

Reading list
Will be published on blackboard