COURSE OUTLINE: BS3340

Course Title

Undergraduate Advanced Experimental Biology (UAEB) Workshop (Series I) – Science of aging and life extension in C. elegans

Course Code

BS3340

Offered Study Year 3, Semester 1, Week 0
Course Coordinator Thibault,Guillaume (Asst Prof) THIBAULT@ntu.edu.sg 6592 1787
Pre-requisites None
AU 3
Contact hours Laboratories: 39, Tutorials: 26
Approved for delivery from
Last revised 16 Sep 2019, 08:51

Course Aims

Aging is a universal risk factor for many age-related diseases. By targeting aging itself, offers the immense possibility of preventing or treating multiple diseases. Initially thought to be a random and intractable process, studies have shown that the aging process is regulated by evolutionarily conserved genetic pathways. Much of what we know about aging today comes from studying how C. elegans ages in the laboratory. With a life span of a little over two weeks, C. elegans is perfect for providing a quick view of the aging process. These microscopic roundworms display visible signs of aging where they slow down, stop reproducing and even develop wrinkled skin. This course aims to provide undergraduate students opportunities for in-depth learning and training in conducting experiments for studying biology of aging in worms focusing on experimental design, skill-sets, data acquisitions and analyses. In line with Technology-Enabled Learning (TEL), the course has developed a series of pre-class video lessons to cover the seminars and lab experimental preview and setup for online learning. We have developed an online interactive platform to facilitate team-based learning amongst the students.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Upon successfully completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Apply the use of C. elegans as a model to study the process of aging and neurodegeneratios
  2. Apply appropriate assays and techniques commonly used to study aging in C. elegans
  3. Troubleshoot experimental errors when methods fail to work
  4. Design simple experimental setup for investigation of aging process
  5. Work and cooperate with other students in completing the experiments in a successful and timely fashion as a team
  6. Discuss experimental data in group presentation
  7. Apply self-discipline and self-learning to read through pre-class materials prior to practicals
  8. Use fluorescence microscopy to examine physiology of C. elegans
  9. Defend and critique their own results

Course Content

Study the phenomenon of aging in nematode worm C. elegans

Examine how the rate of aging is regulated hormonally by insulin and IGF-1 endocrine systems

Study features of Huntington's disease (HD) using HD neurodegenerative model in worms

Study changes in the protein homeostatic pathways in aging and neurodegeneration

Hand-on experience on performing assays for determining lifespan, motility, stress resistance, protein aggregation phenotype and toxicity using different biochemical, cell biology and imaging (light and fluorescent microscopy) experimental techniques

Examine the genetics of aging and longevity using long-lived and short-lived worms carrying mutations of genes in the first life-extension pathway discovered in C. eleganss.

Applications and limitations of C. elegant as an aging model organism

Assessment

Component Course ILOs tested SBS Graduate Attributes tested Weighting Team / Individual Assessment Rubrics
Continuous Assessment
Participation 3, 5 5. a, b, c
6. a
10 individual See Appendix for rubric
Laboratories
Presentation 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 1. a, b, c, d
2. a, b
3. a, b, g
5. a, b, c, d
6. a
30 team See Appendix for rubric
Written Report 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9 1. a, b, c
2. b, d, e, h
3. b, c
4. c
5. a, b, c, e
6. c
7. a, b
30 team See Appendix for rubric
Technology-enhanced Learning
Multiple Choice Questions 5, 7 1. a, b, c
5. a, b
7. d
30 both
Total 100%

These are the relevant SBS Graduate Attributes.

1. Recognize the relationship and complexity between structure and function of all forms of life, resulting from an academically rigorous in-depth understanding of biological concepts

a. Possess a conceptual framework that identifies the relationships between the major domains in the field of biology.

b. Explain the relationship between structure and function of all forms of life at the molecular level

c. Explain the relationship between structure and function of all forms of life at the cellular level

d. Explain the relationship between structure and function of all forms of life at the organism level

2. Critically evaluate and analyze biological information by applying the knowledge, scientific methods and technical skills associated with the discipline

a. Identify the assumptions behind scientific problems and issues

b. Create and evaluate hypotheses

d. Design experiments relevant to authentic problems and their models

e. Analyze the validity of qualitative and quantitative scientific data

h. Identify unintended results as opportunities for discovery

3. Develop and communicate biological ideas and concepts relevant in everyday life for the benefit of society

a. Simplify and explain scientific concepts and results of experiments to a non-biologist (avoiding jargon)

b. Display and explain scientific results clearly and persuasively to peers both verbally and in writing (includes the ability to graph data appropriately and accurately).

c. Demonstrate an understanding of the recursive nature of science, where new results continually modify previous knowledge

g. Demonstrate an understanding of the history of ideas and development of the major fields of biology

4. Acquire transferable and entrepreneurial skills for career development

c. Demonstrate a flair for conducting research

5. Develop communication, creative and critical thinking skills for life-long learning

a. Learn independently and then share that knowledge with others

b. Learn collaboratively and be willing to share expertise with peers

c. Demonstrate critical thinking skills such as analysis, discrimination, logical reasoning, prediction and transforming knowledge

d. Question the assumptions, sources, and contexts of scientific investigation

e. Demonstrate good observation skills and a curiosity about the world

6. Develop codes of social responsibility and scientific ethics, particularly in relation to biological advancement and applications

a. Debate the ethical implications of scientific processes and results

c. Respect regulations involving plagiarism and copyright

7. Demonstrate information literacy and technological fluency

a. Locate and evaluate information needed to make decisions, solve problems, design experiments, and understand scientific data

b. Work effectively with common technologies in biology

d. Complete online learning independently

Formative Feedback

Discussion in class from students answers and burning questions from students on the Readiness Assurance Tests (quiz) gives students feedback on learning outcome 1 and 7.

Discussion in class on the experimental results from different teams. General questions related to the experimental results and lab report will also be discuss in class to provide feedback on learning outcomes 1, 3, 6 and 9.

Discussion and feedback provided to students following their presentation, which helps students to achieve learning outcomes 1, 4, and 6.

Learning and Teaching Approach

Laboratories
(39 hours)

Lab Report: At the end of the workshop, each student will be expected to write a summary report on the experiment analysis and outcomes based on what they have learned hand-on, through individual RAT and inter-team discussions. These help students achieve learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8.

Tutorials
(26 hours)

Readiness Assurance Tests: The students are required to read over pre-class material and then complete a shot MCQ quiz in class, which is done in a team-based learning approach. These help students achieve learning outcomes 1 and 7.

Inter-team discussion/ presentation: Each student will be required to participate in multiple small presentations in which they summarize for the class what they take to be the most appropriate explanations, solutions or applications of the experimental analysis and outcomes during the various inter-team discussions/ presentations. These help students achieve learning outcomes 3, 6 and 9.

Class Participation: Students will work together in a team of 4 for the experiments and group discussion. The class participation grade will be assessed on the quantity and quality of the student’s contributions during RAT and Inter-team discussion/ presentation. Students will be expected to come to class each day having completed the assigned readings and be ready to discuss them with the group. These help students achieve learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.

Reading and References

Optional: Roger B. McDonald. Biology of Aging, 1st Edition, Garland Science, 2014, ISBN: 9780815342137

Course Policies and Student Responsibilities

Students are required to go through and understand the pre-class material (2 in total over the semester) that will be available in NTULearn prior to class.

Students are expected to attend tutorial and laboratory every day to take part of the "Readiness Assurance Test", "Inter-team discussion/presentation", and experiments.

Students are expected to be engaged within their working team and in class.

Academic Integrity

Good academic work depends on honesty and ethical behaviour. The quality of your work as a student relies on adhering to the principles of academic integrity and to the NTU Honour Code, a set of values shared by the whole university community. Truth, Trust and Justice are at the core of NTU’s shared values.

As a student, it is important that you recognize your responsibilities in understanding and applying the principles of academic integrity in all the work you do at NTU. Not knowing what is involved in maintaining academic integrity does not excuse academic dishonesty. You need to actively equip yourself with strategies to avoid all forms of academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, academic fraud, collusion and cheating. If you are uncertain of the definitions of any of these terms, you should go to the Academic Integrity website for more information. Consult your instructor(s) if you need any clarification about the requirements of academic integrity in the course.

Course Instructors

Instructor Office Location Phone Email
Thibault,Guillaume (Asst Prof) 03n-28 6592 1787 THIBAULT@ntu.edu.sg

Planned Weekly Schedule

Week Topic Course ILO Readings/ Activities
1

Study the phenomenon of aging in nematode worm C. elegans

1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

pre-class lecture, individual and team MCQ, short lab report

2

Examine how the rate of aging is regulated hormonally by insulin and IGF-1 endocrine systems

1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9

short lab report

3

Study features of Huntington's disease (HD) using HD neurodegenerative model in worms

1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9

pre-class lecture, individual and team MCQ, short lab report

4

Study changes in the protein homeostatic pathways in aging and neurodegeneration

1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9

short lab report

5

Hand-on experience on performing assays for determining lifespan, motility, stress resistance, protein aggregation phenotype and toxicity using different biochemical, cell biology and imaging (light and fluorescent microscopy) experimental techniques

1, 2, 3, 7, 8

oral presentation

Appendix 1: Assessment Rubrics

Rubric for Continuous Assessment: Participation (10%)

You are strongly encouraged to participate in class discussion and share your answers and experimental results throughout the course. You are also expected to take part of the Q&A of your colleagues' presentations.

You will be assessed based on your:

  • Analytical capability
  • Integrative thinking
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Team cohesion (friendliness, humor, etc)

Each criteria is worth equal marks and the total mark will be scaled to 10%.

Below Standard

(0-4 marks)
Standard

(5-7 marks)
Above Standard

(8-10 marks)

Shows no or little analytical thinking & team skills.

Shows some analytical thinking & team skills.

Shows high analytical thinking, team skills and engagement.

Rubric for Laboratories: Presentation (30%)

You will need to give a presentation outlining the results of your experiment, including a summary of your literature review, your hypothesis, method, results and conclusion. The final mark (out of 100) will be scaled to 30%.

Category

Scoring Criteria

Total Points

Organization

(15 points)

The type of presentation is appropriate for the topic and audience.

5

Presented in a logical sequence.

5

Presentation appropriately cites requisite number of references.

5

Content

(45 points)

Introduction is attention-getting, lays out the problem well, and establishes a framework for the rest of the presentation.

5

Technical terms are well-defined in language appropriate for the target audience.

5

Contains accurate information.

10

Material included is relevant to the overall message/purpose.

10

Appropriate amount of material is prepared, and points made reflect well their relative importance.

10

There is an obvious conclusion summarizing the presentation.

5

Presentation

(40 points)

Speaker maintains good eye contact with the audience and is appropriately animated (e.g., gestures, moving around, etc.).

5

Speaker uses a clear, audible voice.

5

Delivery is poised, controlled, and smooth.

5

Good language skills and pronunciation are used.

5

Visual aids are well prepared, informative, effective, and not distracting.

5

Length of presentation is within the assigned time limits.

5

Information was well communicated.

10

Score

Total Points

100

Rubric for Laboratories: Written Report (30%)

In this written report, you will need to to apply the concepts and principles taught in the course to analyse and interpret the data collected during the experimental procedures.

Criteria

Standards

Fail standard

(3-4 marks)

Pass standard

(5-7 marks)

High standard

(8-10 marks)

quality of expression

stilted, awkward and/or oversimplified expression resulting in overall lack of clarity of meaning.

correct but occasionally stilted or awkward expression although meaning is generally retained.

clear, concise, scrupulously accurate polished and sometimes innovative or original language used to express complex and abstract ideas and information

Appendix 2: Intended Affective Outcomes

As a result of this course, it is expected you will develop the following "big picture" attributes:

Appreciate constraints of aging studies in the lab

Aging processes are a pathway of processes that can be regulated to reduce negative effects

Well versed in application of C. elegans as a model for studying aging

Aware of the delibelating effects of loss of neurone functions in Huntington's disease

Appreciate failure in conducting experiments