Cell Biology: Mitochondria

Learn the fundamentals of cell biology.

A human-centered approach to the fundamentals of cell biology with a focus on the power plants of the cell - mitochondria.

Featuring faculty from:
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4 weeks
2-4 hours a week
Certificate Price
Program Dates
Start Cell Biology today.

What You'll Learn

The cell is a powerful case study to help us explore the functional logic of living systems. All organisms, from single-celled algae to complex multicellular organisms like us, are made up of cells. In this course, you will learn the how and why of biology by exploring the function of the molecular components of cells, and how these cellular components are organized in a complex hierarchy.

This course is designed to explore the fundamentals of cell biology. The overarching goal is for learners to understand, from a human-centered perspective, that cells are evolving ensembles of macromolecules that in turn form complex communities in tissues, organs, and multicellular organisms.

We will focus, in particular, on the mitochondrion, the organelle that powers the cell. In this context, we will look at the processes of cell metabolism. Finally, we will examine the F1F0 ATP synthase, the molecular machine that is responsible for the synthesis of most of the ATP that your cells require to do work. To underscore the importance of cell biology to our lives, we will address questions of development and disease and implications of science in society.

By the end of four weeks, we hope learners will have a deep intuition for the functional logic of a cell. Together we will ask how do things work within a cell, why do they work the way they do, and how are we impacted?

Join us as we explore the extraordinary and wonderfully dynamic world of the cell.

The course will be delivered via edX and connect learners around the world. By the end of the course, participants will learn:

  • How the internal structure and organization of a cell provides an understanding of how and why a cell works
  • The role mitochondria play in the cell and why it is important for a cell to make ATP
  • How cells metabolize food to provide the molecules necessary for mitochondrial function
  • How the structure of the F1F0 ATP synthase leads to the production of ATP
  • What experimental techniques are used to investigate mitochondrial structure and function in the laboratory

Your Instructor

Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University
Robert A. Lue, a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Richard L. Menschel Faculty Director of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University, passed away in November 2020. Rob fostered innovative teaching in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), elevating its profile on campus. Rob taught in undergraduate courses from 1988 until his death, garnering recognition as one of Harvard’s foremost leaders in undergraduate education. 

Prior to his teaching career, Rob earned his Ph.D. in Biology from Harvard University, creating a longstanding passion for and commitment to interdisciplinary teaching and research. From 2004 to 2015, he served as the director of Life Sciences Education at Harvard, where he led a complete redesign of the introductory curriculum leading to some of the most popular science courses on campus. In 2012, Rob became the faculty director of HarvardX due to his extensive work in using technology innovations in learning. At HarvardX, Harvard’s university-wide initiative that includes the edX partnership in online education with MIT, he helped define the university’s engagement in online learning in a way that reinforces its commitment to teaching excellence. He also served as the UNESCO Chair on Life Sciences and Social Innovation; and as faculty director and principal investigator of LabXchange, an online science education platform. In addition to his final role as the faculty director of the Harvard Ed Portal, Rob worked on integrating undergraduate education with community outreach on Harvard’s Allston campus.

Ways to take this course

When you enroll in this course, you will have the option of pursuing a Verified Certificate or Auditing the Course.

A Verified Certificate costs $149 and provides unlimited access to full course materials, activities, tests, and forums. At the end of the course, learners who earn a passing grade can receive a certificate. 

Alternatively, learners can Audit the course for free and have access to select course material, activities, tests, and forums. Please note that this track does not offer a certificate for learners who earn a passing grade.

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