Cells: from organelles to organs

SYLLABUS:  The human body contains approximately 3.7 x 1013 eukaryotic cells and a microbiome containing about 1014 bacteria. The eukaryotic cells share similar sub-cellular compartments called organelles, which include the nucleus, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum (ER), Golgi, and lysosomes. All of our human cells are derived from a single fertilized egg that has differentiated to form multiple cells types, which impart distinct functions to our various organs. This course will discuss the general properties of cells, the functions of individual organelles, and how cells divide and develop the unique characteristics. It will also discuss how differentiated cells organize and impart specific functions to organs such as the liver, kidney, gut, and brain.

INSTRUCTOR:  Norm Curthoys received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley and conducted basic biomedical research with over 40 years of continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health. During this time, he also taught biochemistry to undergraduate, graduate and medical students.


Sept. 11 – Properties of Cells

  • Common features of all cells
  • Unique features of Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryotes

Sept. 18 – Molecular Components of Cells

  • From genomes to proteins
  • From lipids to membranes

Sept. 25 – Organelles

  • Nucleus – much more than a place to store DNA
  • ER/Golgi Network and protein targeting

Oct. 2 – Organelles

  • Mitochondria – the powerhouse of eukaryotic cells
  • Endocytosis/lysosomes – uptake and degradation of extracellular components

Oct. 9 – Tissues

  • How cells differentiate and communicate
  • Liver – its central role in nutrient homeostasis

Oct. 16 – Tissues

  • Functions of gastrointestinal system and kidneys
  • How the brain works
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