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BIO 03 W — Diet and Gene Expression: You Are What You Eat

Quarter: Spring
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 5 weeks
Date(s): May 7—Jun 8
Drop Deadline: May 10
Unit: 1
Tuition: $330
Instructor(s): Lucia Aronica
Limit: 45
Status: Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 5/10 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 5/15 at 5:00 pm (PT).
May 7—Jun 8
5 weeks
Drop By
May 10
1 Unit
Lucia Aronica
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 5/10 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 5/15 at 5:00 pm (PT).
We tend to think that good genes make us thin and healthy, whereas bad genes make us fat and sick. But what if we could turn our “good” genes on and our “bad” genes off, and improve our overall health, by making certain dietary and lifestyle choices? The science of epigenetics suggests that we can.

In this course, we will provide an introduction to epigenetics, the study of how lifestyle factors can change gene activity without actually modifying the underlying DNA. With that foundation in place, students will then discover how food in particular is a powerful signal to our genes that can have a positive impact on our metabolism, longevity, and mental well-being. Along the way, we will specifically explore basic concepts in nutrigenomics, the study of how gene expression can be modified by certain nutrients and bioactive food compounds. We will have live question-and-answer sessions on this topic with two of the world’s leading epigeneticists, Randy Jirtle (University of Wisconsin) and Michael Skinner (Washington State). Using the information covered in this course, along with data gleaned from personal DNA testing (e.g., 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and Genos), students will be able to design a personalized nutrition action plan to positively impact their gene expression.


  • Course sizes are limited.
    You won't have 5,000 classmates. This course's enrollment is capped at 45 participants.

  • Frequent interaction with the instructor.
    You aren't expected to work through the material alone. Instructors will answer questions and interact with students on the discussion board and through weekly video meetings.

  • Study with a vibrant peer group.
    Stanford Continuing Studies courses attract thoughtful and engaged students who take courses for the love of learning. Students in each course will exchange ideas with one another through easy-to-use message boards as well as optional weekly real-time video conferences.

  • Direct feedback from the instructor.
    Instructors will review and offer feedback on assignment submissions. Students are not required to turn in assignments, but for those who do, their work is graded by the instructor.

  • Courses offer the flexibility to participate on your own schedule.
    Course work is completed on a weekly basis when you have the time. You can log in and participate in the class whenever it's convenient for you. If you can’t attend the weekly video meetings, the sessions are always recorded for you and your instructor is just an email away.

  • This course is offered through Stanford Continuing Studies.
    To learn more about the program, visit our About Us page. For more information on the online format, please visit the FAQ page.

Lucia Aronica, Postdoctoral Researcher in Epigenetics and Nutrition, Stanford School of Medicine

Lucia Aronica’s research investigates how diet affects gene activity through epigenetic modifications, the role of these modifications in weight loss, and how we can use them to design precision-medicine solutions. She has published research papers in Cell, Genes & Development, and the EMBO Journal. Aronica received a PhD from the Universität Wien.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.