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Why Do We Age? The Molecular Mechanisms of Ageing

University of Groningen via FutureLearn


Discover the science behind the ageing process

The “why” and “how” of ageing has puzzled mankind ever since it questioned its place in the universe.

However, it was only after infectious diseases became more controlled and reliable food supplies became generally available, that the rapid increase of the average lifespan made science turn its attention to study longevity and ageing.

To fulfil the desire to live longer and age healthier, it is essential that we better understand the intricate molecular processes that evolve in our body when we age.

Study the concepts and theories of ageing

In this free online course, you will study the current concepts and theories of ageing. You will learn about the molecular and cellular processes in ageing. You will explore the cell systems, animal models and advanced experimental methods that we use to study ageing.

After introducing the main theories and mechanisms of ageing in the first week, we will proceed with a series of in-depth lectures from distinguished researchers working at the European Research Institute for the Biology of Ageing at the University of Groningen. They will present you with a selection of their current research and will explain the fundamental questions they try to answer and the experimental approaches they use for their studies.

You will learn that ageing starts at the cell level and you will study several phenomena which take place in cells, such as genomic instability, telomere shortening and epigenetic changes.

By completing this course you will gain insight into the fundamental biology of ageing in various simple and complex organisms, including humans.

The course is aimed at anyone interested in understanding the biology of ageing. It requires basic knowledge of biology, though most of the terms are explained and you will receive further support via additional reading.


  • Cellular ageing
    • Welcome
    • Why do we study ageing? What is ageing?
    • Eukaryotic cell structure
    • Introduction to mechanisms associated with cellular ageing
    • Glossary on Week 1
    • Conclusion to Week 1
  • Chromosomes and ageing
    • Introduction to Week 2
    • Using model organisms in ageing research
    • Mechanism of ageing in yeast - Replicative ageing
    • Mechanism of ageing in yeast - Telomeres
    • Aneuploidy, cancer, and ageing
    • Glossary on Week 1-2
    • Conclusion to Week 2
  • Genomic instability and epigenetics
    • Introduction to Week 3
    • DNA damage and repair
    • Telomeres, stem cells, and ageing
    • Epigenetics and ageing
    • Mid-course test
    • Glossary on Week 1-3
    • Conclusion to Week 3
  • Stem cells in ageing and rejuvenation
    • Introduction to Week 4
    • Single cell sequencing
    • Haematopoietic stem cells
    • Regeneration and rejuvenation
    • Glossary on Week 1-4
    • Conclusion to Week 4
  • Health and disease during ageing - molecular aspects
    • Introduction to Week 5
    • Decline and disease
    • Protein aggregation, toxicity, and neurodegeneration
    • Calorie restriction - health and lifespan
    • Glossary on Week 1-5
    • Conclusion to Week 5
  • Genetics and evolution of ageing
    • Introduction to Week 6
    • Genetics of ageing
    • Evolutionary theories of ageing
    • Peer review assignment
    • Glossary on Week 1-6
    • Conclusion to Week 6 and general conclusion

Taught by

Marianna Bevova


4.2 rating, based on 13 Class Central reviews

4.6 rating at FutureLearn based on 32 ratings

Start your review of Why Do We Age? The Molecular Mechanisms of Ageing

  • Anonymous
    Fascinating, challenging, thought-provoking course & I really enjoyed it. Huge amount of ground covered, with ageing explored from several different aspects, but all well interconnected. The only reason I give it 4 rather that 5 stars is simply bec…
  • Anthony Van Schyndel
    This course was ell set out and at the cutting edge of research quality with sufficient time to finish and enough reference material to get up to scratch. Mentors should take some time to get involved with the students to create a more personal and effective atmosphere for the learners. Mentors participation means a closer relationship with learners and creates an atmosphere of belonging and of appreciation for all. Tony V
  • Anonymous
    The topics covered are thorough, clearly taught by scientists top in their field. However - as is often with these online courses - its just lectures read out/dictated from a script and minimal thinking for yourself Also the interaction is low (apar…
  • Anonymous
    The course was interesting but a bit difficult and I had to read a lot in the internet to catch up. But it is a fascinating course.
  • Anonymous
    This is well constructed course with a plethora of informative materials, often at the leading edge of this subject. The video lectures which start with an over view of a cell to the complex mechanisms, covering such areas as Chromosomes and ageing,…
  • This is an extraordinary course. Probably one of the Best 3 I have taken on the web. Every lecture is full of valuable and astonishing information, but I must say this is not an easy course . I started and then moved to other course on geneticas and…
  • Anonymous
    I found this MOOC very interesting, but too specialized. What I mean is that it explains all biological cell characteristics (in my humble opinion) in a very wide, deep and meticulous way, making it very hard to follow to someone who has many years without studing the DNA, RNA, mitochondrial function, epigenetics, etc.
  • Anonymous
    Great course: well structured, excellent material (english subtiltled videos, video transcript and slides pdf) and teachers (it's really appealing to have presentation of research in live by the researchers themselves, up to date external references to deepen the subject if needed.
    It's an intermediate level course.
  • Anonymous
    I enjoyed studying this course for 6 weeks. I have no education in medicine and genetics, and some points remained incomprehensible to me, but I understood enough to make my daily choices more consciously.

    Thanks for the new and useful knowledge!
  • Monica Flores
    This was an excellent course to introducing in the large world of ageing
    First, in terms of molecular patterns and after related to some important diseases
    Last, relation between ageing with a healthy life
    That was a great course!
  • Anonymous
    The course is a good introduction. Good: overview of ageing research, good lectures, deep dive into the research. Bad: sometimes too detailed, or too focussed on own research.
  • Renny Jelsma

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