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Course Description

Neurons mapped using a different colored fluorescent protein

This course explores the structure and role of neurons and glia—the cells that make up our nervous system—and how the function (or dysfunction) of these cells contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. During this course, we’ll discuss how neurons and glial cells are specialized for their roles, including how neurons are able to keep themselves healthy despite their unusual shapes, and how glial cells are able to insulate our neurons to increase their signaling speeds. Importantly, we’ll also investigate what can go wrong when neurons and glial cells are compromised by injury or disease.

Pre-requisites: Students should understand the basic fundamentals of animal biology (cell theory, genetics, molecular biology). ‘Introduction to the nervous system’ recommended but not required. This course can be taken alone, or in conjunction with the course ‘Using neural signaling to understand pain,’ which describes how neurons communicate with each other.

This course aligns with the Neurological Disorders Unit 2: What are the building blocks of our brains? of the Great Diseases high school curriculum  


This is an online course that will not meet on campus. Most course activities and interactions will occur asynchronously and online through Tufts Canvas, the university's learning management system. You can take this course from anywhere, as long as you have a reliable internet connection (broadband highly recommended).

Online courses are held to the same academic standards as campus-based courses and students can expect high levels of interaction with faculty and classmates. Online courses at Tufts are not self-paced, however they offer much more flexibility for students. Typically, course content is organized in a weekly structure, so students will be expected to login and participate regularly. However students can generally set their own schedule within each week as long as assignments and activities are completed on time.

Affiliated With:

  • School of Medicine - Public Health & Professional Degrees