General Biology 102/111 - Human Health Issues

Introduction Animal Tissues Reproduction Digestive System
Urinary System Respiratory System Circulatory System Nervous System
Muscular System Endocrine System    

Introductory Remarks

Upon completion of this unit, you should be able to:
1. be familiar with your own species' genealogy; this would include the hierarchy from kingdom to species (kingdom, phylum, subphylum, class, order, family, genus, species) and the names of the specific groups to which you belong from Animal to Homo sapiens.
2. discuss the components of the scientific method; this would include observation, hypothesis formation, etc.
3. critique an experimental design to point out inadequacies and lack of controlled conditions.

Animal Tissues
Upon completion of this unit, you should be able to:
1. discuss how one fertilized egg (a zygote) can specialize and differentiate into the trillion cells of which your body is composed.
2. describe/characterize the four basic tissue types in the human body.
3. recognize from a figure or microscope slide the different types of epithelial cells according to their arrangement (simple, stratified, or pseudostratified), and by their shape (squamous, cuboidal, or columnar).
4. recognize from a figure or microscope slide the different types of connective tissue cells.
5. discuss the functions of collagen, elastin, cells, and the matrix of the various connective tissues (loose, dense, adipose, blood, cartilage and bone).
6. cite at least one example of a location in your body where each of the types of connective tissues should normally be found.
7. describe and label a figure of the structure of a typical neuron. (This would include the axon, dendrite, and cell body).
8. describe and label a figure of the structure of the four types of muscle tissue.
9. using the skin (integument) as an example, describe how cells compose tissues, which compose organs, which compose organ systems.
10. match the name of an organ system with its general functions.
11. label, on a model or diagram, the layers of the skin, specialized structures such as hair, nails, feathers, and baleen; and skin glands such as scent glands, mammary glands, and sebaceous glands.
12. discuss how damaged tissues can be 'artificially' replaced by transplantation and tissue engineering.
13. distinguish between the different kinds of transplants:  autograft, isograft, allograft, and xenograft

Critical Thinking Questions:

1. Do you think that using fetal tissue for treating disease in adults is linked to the issue of abortion? If so, what safeguards, if any, might help minimize such conflicts?
2. Do you think that organs of anencephalic infants should be harvested for donation by turning off life support? What further information might you need to make such a decision?

The Making of Gametes
Upon completion of this unit, you should be able to:
1. outline the process of meiosis.
2. understand the process of gametogenesis in humans. This includes being able to use the following terms:  spermatogenesis oogenesis gamete polar body
3. state how spermatogenesis differs from oogenesis.
4. explain how it would be possible for a human female to live her whole life without ever completing a single meiotic division in her body.
5. distinguish between a chromatid, a chromosome, and homologous chromosomes.
6. describe what happens during the process of synapsis and crossing-over.  Since this is not a genetic mistake, what is the reason that crossing-over occurs? (Your answer centers around the benefits of recombination.)

Critical thinking Question:

1. Many veterans of the Vietnam War who were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange claim that their children born years after the war-have birth defects caused by a contaminant in the herbicide called dioxin. How can this happen? What type of cells would the chemical have to affect in these men to cause birth defects years later? Explain your answer.
2. The capacity to survive for a long period after reproductive life has ended does not usually promote the survival of the species. List some ways in which longevity could promote a species survival.

Human Reproduction & Development
After lectures, the film shown in the lab, reading the chapters, and the sea urchin lab, you should be able to:
1. clearly explain the events leading to and including fertilization of the human ovum. (No, not that part, gutterminds!)
2. name and locate the various parts of the human female and male reproductive systems and state their functions; be able to label a diagram of human plumbing of either sex.
3. describe the steps leading to sperm formation and storage.
4. describe the trip a sperm would take beginning with the site of formation and ending with it leaving the body.
5. differentiate between sperm and semen.
6. describe in detail the human female's menstrual cycle.
7. describe or explain the following terms:
estrus acrosome endometrium test tube baby parthenogenesis
copulation hermaphrodite coitus menopause infertility
impotency morning sickness hysterectomy vulva labor
trimester fetus lactation spontaneous abortion miscarriage
morning sickness blastocyst fetal alcohol syndrome afterbirth D & C
'in heat' gonad dilation placenta placental membranes
8. distinguish between asexual and sexual reproduction; give an example of an organism that uses each type; describe the major advantage of sexual reproduction over asexual reproduction.
9. discuss intelligently the pro's and con's of the use of birth control methods in terms of side effects and effectiveness; why is "pulling out" a very poor method?
10. explain the differences in the human female menstrual cycle when pregnancy occurs (as compared to a non-pregnant cycle).
11. decide for yourself: knowing what you now do about human development and abortion, should anyone have the right to terminate a pregnancy? If so, until what stage of development?
12. have a general idea of the stages of development of a human embryo/fetus at 3 & 6 months after conception.
13. why is internal fertilization necessary for land animals?
14. discuss the usual methods of clinical abortions.
15. discuss the events which occur in a normal vaginal delivery.
16. discuss the effect of alcohol & other drugs, smoking, or improper nutrition on fetal development.
17. be familiar with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, genital herpes, and AIDS.
18. recognize the differences between spermatogenesis and oogenesis.
19. understand the source gland, target, and action of each of the following hormones in both sexes (if appropriate):
FSH testosterone HCG LH prolactin
prostaglandins oxytocin estrogens progesterone GnRH
20. discuss, on a general level, the lab exercise on sea urchin spawning.
21. understand the major events which occur during the embryological stages of gametogenesis, fertilization, cleavage, gastrulation, neurulation, and organogenesis.

Digestive System & Nutrition
Upon completion of this unit you should be able to
1. give several specific reasons why you eat; what do you gain from it?
2. define and discuss the meaning of the word calorie and Calorie (kilocalorie). Which one do we use in everyday language?
3. discuss the function(s) which fats, carbohydrates, and proteins play in your body. What are the building blocks of each? Which of these contains the highest energy per gram? What percentage of our calories should be drawn from each of these sources?
4. distinguish between simple and complex carbohydrates.
5. understand that sodium is a nutrient of major concern in your diet. What is the RDA for sodium? Do most Americans exceed or fall short of this?
6. name all of the parts of the human digestive system and explain what the role of each is in digestion.
7. define or characterize the following terms:
gastrointestinal tract peristalsis sphincters
obesity anorexia nervosa bulimia
basal metabolic rate glycogen B-complex of vitamins
epiglottis chyme bile

8. compare and contrast the actions of mechanical digestion and chemical digestion of foods.
9. understand how to pronounce the words pharynx (fair-inks) and larynx (lair-inks).
10. discuss the role of acids, pH and enzymes in the digestion of foods in the stomach and intestines (for example: amylase, pepsin, lipase, etc.) Recognize that many enzymes end in '-ase'; many others tell you exactly what they work on (for example: lipase).
11. describe the function that villi and microvilli play in the small intestines.
12. describe the role of the liver, gall bladder, and bile in digestion. What are gall stones, and what causes them?
13. distinguish between essential and nonessential nutrients.
14. distinguish between macronutrients and micronutrients.
15. distinguish between saturated, unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Give an example of the worst kinds of saturated fats.
16. distinguish between fat soluble and water soluble vitamins; give an example of each; understand the role that vitamins in general play in your body. Why do some vitamins have several names? What is an "RDA"?
17. appreciate the pro's and con's of a vegetarian diet.
18. interpret the list of ingredients from a product's label.
19. discuss why we can't digest cellulose; how do some other organisms accomplish this?
20. have a general understanding of the digestive system, from mouth to pooper. Be sure to know all organs, their important parts (if pertinent), and their functions.

Nervous System Objectives
Upon completion of this unit you should be able to
1. Define the following terms:
neuron resting potential action potential threshold stimulus
synapse axon neurotransmitter C.N.S.
white matter gray matter cerebrum autonomic n.s.
cerebrospinal fluid sympathetic division parasympathetic division nerve
biofeedback P.N.S.
2. Label the following on a diagram of the brain and discuss their general functions:
corpus callosum thalamus hypothalamus cerebellum
medulla oblongata pons cerebrum lateral ventricles
optic chiasma olfactory bulbs

3. Label the following on a diagram of a nerve synapse:
dendrite cell body axon synapse
synaptic end bulb myelin sheath nodes of Ranvier synaptic cleft
post-synaptic membrane neurotransmitter

4. Answer the following:

a. Explain the role of the nervous system in maintaining homeostasis.
b. What cell types comprise the nervous system?
c. How is the resting potential maintained by the sodium-potassium pump?
d. List the biochemical events that occur during an action potential.
e. How do nerve cells communicate across a synapse?
f. What is saltatory conduction?
g. What are the major divisions of the human nervous system?
h. In what ways is the nervous system naturally protected from injury or illness?
i. Discuss and debate "nature versus nurture" in relation to mental illness.
5. Discuss the causes and effects of the following nervous system diseases:
myasthenia gravis familial Alzheimer's disease Huntington's disease
Tay-Sachs disease bipolar disorder schizophrenia

6. Discuss both the biological and mood altering effects of the following drugs on the nervous system:
Valium nicotine cocaine
heroine marijuana opium
alcohol PCP

Critical Thinking Questions:

1. Your father has just been diagnosed with Huntington's Disease, a heritable fatal nervous system disorder. You may choose to undergo genetic testing to find out if you inherited this disease. Do you want to know that you will suffer the same fate as your father? List the advantages and disadvantages to having this knowledge.
2. Generally, maintaining homeostasis is considered the same as maintaining health. However when an individual takes certain drugs the body's attempt to maintain homeostasis often leads to addiction. How does this occur and what type of treatment would be most effective at counteracting this? Is psychological addiction the same as physical addiction? Should the treatment be similar?
3. You are studying to prepare for an exam on the nervous system. How does your brain register and remember the information you are trying to cram in it? Explain ways in which you can improve your study methods to better utilize your brain's capacity?

The Special Senses Objectives
Upon completion of this unit you should be able to

1. Define the following terms:

chemoreception mechanoreception photoreception olfaction
gustation accommodation equilibrium balance

Answer the following questions:
1. What is the difference between rods and cones? Where is each located?
2. Why is the cornea the most transplanted human tissue?
3. Abnormalities of refraction include myopia, hypermetropia, and astigmatism. Define these conditions and explain which type of corrective lenses would be used for each condition and why?
4. How does the flexibility of the lens effect the refraction of light and thus your sight? Is the lens affected by age?
5. Why does it take longer for dark adaptation than light?
6. Describe the following disorders of the eye:  cataract, glaucoma, and conjunctivitis
7. Label the following on a diagram of the eye:
lens pupil iris cornea
aqueous humor ciliary body sclera choroid layer
retina vitreous humor fovea centralis macula lutea
optic nerve blind spot lacrimal glands lacrimal duct


Answer the following questions:
1. List the three anatomical subdivisions of the ear and the function of each.
2. How do the following organs function: the organ of corti, semicircular canals, the utricle and saccule?
3. As you drive up a mountain your ears feel blocked and you yawn to relieve this pressure. Why does this occur and how does yawning affect your Eustachian tube to relieve the pressure?
4. Describe the following disorders of the ear:

perforated eardrum  vertigo            otitis media

5. List the events involved in the conduction of a sound wave through the ear and its conversion into a nerve impulse in the organ of corti.

6. Label the following on a diagram or model:

pinna external auditory canal tympanic membrane malleus
incus stapes oval window cochlea
semicircular canals ampulla utricle saccule auditory nerve

Critical Thinking Questions:

1. You have a child who repeatedly suffers from otitis media. Your physician has recommended that tubes be surgically installed in the child's ears. Is this an effective treatment? What issues will you consider as you come to a decision about your child's welfare?

Endocrine System Objectives
Upon completion of this unit you should be able to

  1. Identify the following endocrine organs on a model and list the hormones they secrete:

    thyroid pituitary gonads parathyroids
    pancreas thymus adrenals
  2. Identify the following endocrine disorders listing the gland involved, hormone, symptoms and possible treatment:

gigantism pituitary dwarfism cretinism acromegaly
goiter diabetes mellitis hyperglycemia hypoglycemia
myxedema Cushing's syndrome Addison's disease Grave's disease
adrenogenital syndrome

3. Discuss the function of the endocrine system in maintaining homeostasis.

4. Describe the control of hormonal secretions via feedback cycles and give several examples.

5. A patient with a tumor of the hypothalamus is urinating constantly for several hours at a time. Why would a tumor of the hypothalamus cause constant urination?

Critical thinking questions:

1. When the carnival came to town health professionals, who felt that the side shows were cruel and exploitative, joined with local consumer groups to enforce truth-in-advertising laws. They demanded that the fat man, the dwarf, the giant, and the bearded lady be billed as "people with endocrine disorders." Identify the disorder in each case and explain why the particular disorder produces the characteristic features of these four show people. Would you be marching with the local consumer group or would you be supportive of the carnivals rights?

Skeletal System Objectives

Answer the following questions:
1. Identify the major parts contained in the axial and appendicular skeleton of a human.
2. Identify the principal classes of articulations.
3. Discuss the general organization of movable joints.
4. Identify and discuss the process by which bone growth and repair occurs.
5. Identify several major problems and diseases which may effect bones and muscles including 

cramps sprains fracture bursitis
arthritis Lyme disease gout  osteoporosis

6. Discuss the necessary modifications which accompany and allow for bipedality.
7. Discuss the roles bones play in mineral deposition and resorption.

8. Label the following on a skeleton:

cranium atlas axis hyoid
scapula clavicle humerus radius
ulna carpals pelvis femur
tibia tarsals

Critical thinking questions:

1. A young woman is about to give birth to her first baby. She is very concerned about the baby's large size. What adaptations of the female skeleton will help her during delivery?
2. Contact sports may cause permanent injury to young children. Consider the risk factors and make a decision on whether you will allow your young son to play football.
3. You have just been told that your young son will be short, probably not even 5' tall. The physician has suggested injections of growth hormone. What are the possible advantages and disadvantages to this treatment? What decision will you make for your young son and why?

Muscular System Objectives
Upon completion of this unit you should be able to

  1. define the following:

    sarcomere neuromuscular junction sarcoplasmic reticulum actin
    myosin origin insertion agonist
    antagonist synergist
  2. describe the relationship between bone and skeletal muscles in producing movement.

  3. identify the principle skeletal muscles in different regions of the body by name.

  4. discuss how muscle contractions occur using the "Sliding Filament Model".

  5. explain why you shiver when you get cold.

  6. define the fulcrum , effort and resistance of the lever system used to raise your arm, bend your elbow, and lift your leg?

  7. discuss the cause and treatments of the following muscular diseases:

multiple sclerosis Parkinson's disease muscular dystrophy myasthenia gravis

 Critical thinking questions:

1. Every muscle in your body aches following a strenuous workout and you feel like you will never move normally again. What have you done to yourself? How could you have prevented this? Suggest a training regimen for yourself that will help you avoid this in the future.
2. You must build yourself up quickly for the upcoming football season and one of your teammates suggests anabolic steroids. What risks and benefits are there to using these hormones and what will your decision be?

Circulatory System Objectives

Upon completion of this unit you should be able to:

  1. define the following terms:

pulse hematocrit systole diastole
pulmonary circulation systemic circulation vein artery
venule arteriole capillary hemoglobin
oxyhemoglobin plasma erythrocyte leukocyte

2. using an ECG (electrocardiogram ) as a reference, trace the electrical impulses and contraction of the heart.

3. pretend you are an erythrocyte in the vena cava; describe your trip through the circulatory system ending back where you started.

4. summarize the interactions of the ABO blood system and explain their importance in connection with transfusions.

 5. name the disease that occurs in the newborn due to Rh incompatibility. How is this disease treatable and preventable?

6.   describe the structures and functions of the chambers, great vessels, and valves of the heart.

7.    describe the following disorders of the circulatory system:

myocardial infarction hypertension varicose veins anemia
atherosclerosis murmur arrhythmias
  1. Explain a possible treatment for each of the above.

  2. When would the following diagnostic procedures be used:

    echocardiogram ECG cardiac catheterization hematocrit
    differential white blood cell count

    Label the following on a diagram of the heart:

inferior vena cava superior vena cava pulmonary artery pulmonary vein
aorta coronary artery right atrium left atrium
right ventricle left ventricle tricuspid valve bicuspid valve
chordae tendinae aortic semilunar valve ligamentum arteriosum
pulmonic semilunar valve

Critical Thinking Questions:

1. List what you consider to be the risk factors involved in heart disease in a quantitative manner with the most influential factor at the top and the least at the bottom. Which ones can you control and what lifestyle changes are you willing to make to reduce your risk?

Respiratory System Objectives
Upon completion of this unit you should be able to:
1. Define the following:





C rings



Boyle's law

2. Label the following on a diagram:


pharynx (fair-inks)

larynx (lair-inks) 






external intercostals

3. Answer the following questions:

a. Trace a molecule of oxygen from your pharynx down to the alveoli, including all pertinent anatomy.
b. Explain gas exchange at the lungs in a capillary bed.
c. Discuss the many health effects of smoking, including its effects on the ciliated cells, white blood cells, the roles of toxins, carcinogens and carbon dioxide.
d. Explain the causes and effects of the following diseases: lung cancer, asthma, tuberculosis, pneumonia , pleurisy , and SIDS.
e. Why is carbon monoxide a poisonous gas?
f. How do fibrotic agents such as asbestos, cotton and coal damage the lungs?
g. When would a tracheotomy be performed and why?

Critical thinking questions:
1. A close relative develops cancer of the larynx because of a heavy smoking habit and has a tracheotomy performed to avoid an obstruction. You go to visit this relative and he is still smoking through his tube; how do you react to this?
2. How might you obtain evidence about the effect of maternal cigarette smoking on fetal birth defects?
3. If air were sampled at the bronchiole tubes, alveoli, and alveolar capillary beds, what gas compositions would you predict?

Excretory System Objectives
Upon completion of this unit you should be able to:
1. Define the following terms:


glomerular filtration

tubular reabsorption


antidiuretic hormone




renal pelvis

2. Label the following on a model of the excretory system:


renal hilum

renal artery




external sphincter

renal vein

internal sphincter

3. Label the following on a model of the nephron:

Bowman's (glomerular) capsule

proximal convoluted tubule

distal convoluted tubule

loop of Henle

collecting duct

juxtaglomerular capillaries


Answer the following questions:

1. After having a few beers you can't seem to stop urinating. In fact, you excrete more fluid than you consumed. Why is this? What effect does alcohol have on the excretory system?
2. Explain the role of the nephron in filtering blood, osmoregulation, and maintaining homeostasis.
3. Explain the possible causes and effects of the following disorders: cystitis, bladder infection, kidney stones, nephritis, and kidney failure.
4. How does dialysis work, how effective is it, what is the cost, and why is a kidney transplant preferable?
5. Every time you visit the doctor she asks you to urinate in a small cup. Why? What possible diseases can she diagnose from examining your urine?
6. Trace a drop of blood from its entrance into the renal artery to its exit through the renal vein as it passes through the kidney.
7. Explain what happens during glomerular filtration, tubular reabsorption, and tubular secretion.

Critical thinking questions:

1. The kidney is one of the most common organs currently being transplanted, one of the reasons being that it is the only organ which can be donated by a living person. Would you be willing to donate one of your kidneys to a close relative, a stranger, etc?
2. If you would like to be an organ donor, what steps must you take now to ensure that this will happen? In some poor countries people have started routinely selling their organs. What is your reaction to this practice?

Immune System Objectives
Upon completion of this unit you should be able to complete the following:
1. explain the basic mechanisms of the immune system, including the humoral and cell-mediated responses, and apply it to new situations.
2. describe the manner in which our immune system recognizes "self" including a discussion of the HLA system.
3. discuss the role of the lymphatic system in immune responses.
4. discuss the purpose and methods for vaccination against disease.
5. distinguish between several malfunctions of the immune system, like autoimmune diseases and allergies.
6. outline the barriers that you have which help to ward off diseases.
7. define or characterize the following terms:

booster shots

acquired immunity

acquired immunity






primary response

secondary response


passive immunity


8. understand the difference between non-specific responses (like the complement system) and specific responses (like the actions of the B-cells and T-cells).
9. describe how the inflammatory response is often able to prevent infection even before the entire immune system is awakened.
10. outline the steps involved in the primary immune response including macrophages, helper T-cells, plasma cells, and memory cells.
11. outline the steps involved in the   to infected, mutant, cancerous, or transplanted cells or organs, including killer T cells.
12. have a general understanding of AIDS.
a. how the disease is spread; why this should affect YOUR sexual behavior.
b. what are the high risk behaviors;
c. that the disease is spread as easily between heterosexuals as between homosexuals.
d. the mechanism by which AIDS kills, including opportunistic diseases.
13. understand how sometimes cancer, parasites or other diseases may be able to beat the immune system