For more information, please contact:

Dr. Eileen M. Lafer, Biochemistry Discipline Coordinator, 210-567-3764


As you know, Biochemistry differs from many of the other disciplines in this curriculum in that taking a class in biochemistry is a pre-requisite for admission to this medical school. Therefore, you are expected to know the basics of biochemistry. All of you have taken biochemistry courses; however, we are well aware that the coverage, depth, breadth, rigor and quality of the courses you have taken may be very variable and that your current knowledge and skills in biochemistry may differ significantly among yourselves. Therefore, the faculty in Biochemistry has assembled a pre-requisite syllabus in which we go over the major concepts that we expect that you have already been taught in previous courses. The syllabus is broken down into topic areas. Many of the areas begin with "Recall Objectives" which are intended to help you focus on the important points made in the text of that part of the syllabus. You will also notice a few questions associated with each topic area. You may want to ask yourself the questions before you start reading the associated text. Many of the questions are designed to reflect the level of knowledge that we are expecting you to have prior to starting our current curriculum. A few questions are designed to be a bit provocative and get you thinking about the topic. None of them are designed to shake your confidence. If you do not know the answers to the questions, you should read or re-read the associated text and make sure you get the questions right on the second try. It may not be a bad idea to give yourself the test questions again---especially the ones that you missed---a few days later before you plunge into the curriculum itself. The tests associated with the pre-requisite syllabus are not connected with your grade in any way. They are purely self-tests for you to see how well you remember the material you had as undergraduates.

You will notice that many topic areas of the pre-requisite syllabus contain details of metabolic pathways. Based on surveys we conducted with students from previous years, we believe that it is likely that most of you have seen these pathways and constituent reactions before, but we do not expect you to have remembered them by heart. What we are looking for at this point is that you understand the basic function ("bottom line") of each pathway rather than the specific details. Many of these details are contained in the pre-requisite syllabus but more with the idea that you should read them and think about them rather than memorize them at this point. Once the Molecules to Medicine module starts, certain reactions of great clinical relevance will be stressed and you will then be expected to learn them quite well in order to apply that knowledge to clinical situations.

There are a few sections of the pre-requisite syllabus that are labeled as "Just for Fun". These represent different perspectives on material covered in that part of the syllabus. Sometimes a novel perspective on a topic allows you to recall that topic or put it in context in a different way that may help you to learn that topic better as we get into it later. These sections are purely optional, however.

There are many ways to look at biochemistry---chemical, thermodynamic and even quantum mechanical. In this curriculum, we will be looking at biochemistry from a clinical perspective. Even though the pre-requisite syllabus is not particularly clinical, its goal is to help you to assemble the pieces of biochemical knowledge that you have already had---and perhaps fill in a few gaps---into platforms that will facilitate your learning of the clinical applications of biochemistry that we will undertake in the CIRCLE curriculum.

The pre-requisite material is divided into two categories. The first category is "The Basics of the Basics", fundamental topics such as pH, amino acid and protein structure, and enzyme kinetics. You should consider "The Basics of the Basics" as a resource to which you can turn during the curriculum if you some of the topics become relevant. It may be that you know these quite well already and need not address them. If you would like, however, you can access these topics by clicking here.

None of the lecture-, case-, team-based or on-line learning in the curriculum will be dedicated to these topics but they are considered so fundamental that you are expected to be able to use them in learning and applying the material in this curriculum. Each of the topics in "The Basics of the Basics" consists of some text, an audio lecture on the topic by Dr. Chongwoo Kim, one of our former faculty members, some powerpoints and a self-test.

The second category of the Pre-requisite Syllabus consists of topics that are correlated with specific learning activities in the Molecules to Medicine module. These nine interactive lessons are located here. Click each link to review the separate topics.