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From Mad Cow Disease to Alzheimer's: The Biological Basis of Disease

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

What do Mad Cow, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease have in common? All these diseases are caused by cellular proteins, found in the brain, which fail to fold properly. Through this course, you will learn about key diseases that are caused by protein mis-folding. Topics covered will include symptoms, cellular physiology and current methods of treatment. You will also learn the general biology behind protein folding and examine the devastating neurodegenerative diseases that result when proteins fail to mature properly.

We will start with a step-by-step introduction to protein synthesis and protein folding, followed by a discussion of the quality control mechanisms that exist to correct or eliminate mis-folded proteins and protect the cell from their toxicity. This will lead to an introduction to diseases that occur when proteins mis-fold and are not properly subdued by the quality control mechanisms. You will learn about neurodegenerative diseases including Mad Cow, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. Because of the nature of these diseases, they are very challenging to treat. You will be introduced to the mechanism of these diseases, and learn about current research in the field aimed at finding effective treatments to these diseases. In addition, you will also learn about unanswered questions in the field and what you, as a future scientist, could do to contribute to curing these diseases.

In addition to discussions on protein folding, this course will introduce laboratory techniques in cellular biology and molecular biology currently employed in the field. You will start by purifying green fluorescent protein (GFP), a common tool used in molecular biology, and examine how its function is affected by altering various steps of the protein folding pathway. In addition, you will examine structures of the brain affected by these neurodegenerative diseases by dissecting a sheep brain and comparing normal and diseased tissue in order to determine exactly how these diseases affect the brain

Students should have at least one year of high school level biology. This course will prepare students for and supplement topics covered in AP biology that will be particularly useful for any type of medical and scientific careers.

*Please Note: This course has a Supplemental Fee of $250.00.