Course: Mol 345/CHM 345
Instructor: Sabine Petry, Todd Greco
S 2018

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

The purpose of MOL345: Biochemistry is to introduce students to the biochemical, biophysical, and structural basis for cellular function and to explain the properties of life at the macromolecular level. Throughout the course of this class, students will be introduced to topics ranging from protein structure / folding, enzyme kinetics, biochemical techniques, and metabolic pathways. The course is organized into discrete categories that culminate into a midterm exam: there are two midterms and a final exam. Along with the exams there are weekly problem sets and assigned readings for each lecture, as well as clicker quizzes at the beginning of every lecture to assess knowledge of the material and to mark participation. Precepts are also part of the class and a required component to the course.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

Classroom instruction primarily comes in the form of lectures by one of the two instructors: Professor Petry or Dr. Greco, for any given day. Lecture material is presented by powerpoint slides and these slides are available to you online before the start of class. With Biochemistry, there is a lot of material covered in any given lecture and sometimes can go upwards to 50+ slides. It becomes important therefore to assess what information is truly important versus what information is given just for context. The best way to prioritize the information is to compare the information presented in lectures to the assigned readings, if there are significant overlaps between the two then it is important to know. Furthermore questions that are asked on the problems sets and discussed during precepts should also be important to know. A great challenge with biochemistry is that it requires students on some level to simply memorize the information and there is no way to get around this. I recommend making flashcards when it comes to memorizing the chemical structures for the amino acids, DNA, RNA, and sugars. Furthermore when it comes time to memorize metabolic pathways such as glycolysis, Pentose Phosphate Pathway, beta oxidation, oxidative phosphorylation it is very helpful to organize these pathways in a concept map to see how they are all connected: seeing the relationship and feedback mechanism becomes these various pathways is essential to doing well in the class.

Learning For and From Assignments

As part of the course, there are weekly problems set due at the beginning of each week. While these problem sets are not graded on accuracy, it's important nonetheless to take them seriously as theses types of questions are the same that you will encounter in the exams. I recommend that any questions you are confused with should be talked about with an instructor or preceptor, because they are often asked in some form or another on the exam. Students are also evaluated through daily clicker quizzes. While there are many clicker quizzes throughout the course, it’s important to be consistent on doing well on these as they are a good way to make up for lost points from exams and contribute to ~10% of the overall grade. Precept participation contributes to ~10% of the grade and its crucial to ask questions during this time as most of the learning arguable occurs during the precepts.

External Resources

The main external resource for the class is the textbook. The textbook can be very informative but at times doesn’t add anything new that lectures or precepts cover. I recommend reading the textbook mainly for the metabolic pathways sections of the course and just reviewing the lecture slides for the rest of the class material.

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

Before selecting this course its important to assess your class schedule for the semester and determining whether you will have the time to dedicate to studying for biochemistry. The hardest part about biochemistry is taking the time to memorize and understand the material.    

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