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Tell Me About Biochem!

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by JulianCrane, Apr 2, 2002.

  1. JulianCrane

    JulianCrane The Power of Intention 10+ Year Member

    695
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    Dec 22, 2001
    So, I have am in the process of planning my fall semester schedule, and I am definitely taking a class on the Nervous System. But, I wanna take another bio class for my major. The options are Biochem and Vertebrate Structure, the latter of which has a 1.5 hour lab twice a week. So, I decided on biochem just because I will be finishing Orgo 2 this in 3 weeks and the chem part will still be somewhat fresh. Is this a good decision? Is Biochem harder than Orgo? How can I get an A in the class? PS: If anyone knows about these classes at WashU, you're advice is even more welcome.
     
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  3. Angel_Eyes

    Angel_Eyes Member 10+ Year Member

    Well, I don't know exactly what advice to give you but, all of the doctors and premeds that I know said that biochem was what we took ochem for in the first place. Biochemistry is a major course for most med schools. I say take it (and keep your notes!! :D ), that way you'll have an edge over your classmates once you get to med school, besides...the ochem is still fresh and Lord knows how quickly we all lose that usful info!! :) Sorry if I wasn't helpful, but those are all the reasons I am taking biochem before I go!! Good Luck.
     
  4. brandonite

    brandonite Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    2,264
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    Oct 19, 2001
    Manitoba, Canada
    I would go for biochem. I'm taking it right now. It's a lot of memorization... Our prof, for example, gave us a handout of the Kreb's cycle, and expected us to know every substrate, product, enzyme, cofactor, and inhibitor/activator in it. But it is interesting from time to time, and very useful for med school. It's actually required for my home school here in Canada.

    I think knowing how to get an 'A' in any class really depends too much on the particular prof than anything we can say... The way I'm taking it right now, for example, if you just know your pathways in and out you should be able to get an 'A'. But your prof might be completely different.
     
  5. THE instiGATOR

    THE instiGATOR Cow Tipper 7+ Year Member

    1,626
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    Sep 27, 2001
    You wanna know about biochem? Well...

    The first thing to come out of my profs mouth:
    "How many of you are premeds?
    Let me tell you something...
    I hate premeds!
    The only people I hate more than premeds are prevets, because the only people more disgusting than those who will put their hands in a human oriface are those who will put their hands in an animal oriface!"

    The second thing to come out of his mouth:
    "All you smart ass premeds...
    ...when you're out there practicing medicine...
    ...don't try to use your "brain" when writing prescriptions! Just do what we chemists tell you to!!!"

    I hated every moment of that class. The C I earned in that class is the only one I have on my transcript. I'll be adding another this semester. I got the feeling this dude was an unsuccessful applicant. Unsuccessful premeds shouldn't be allowed to be professors! :D
     
  6. rxfudd

    rxfudd 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    1,344
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    Feb 13, 2001
    Chicago suburbs
    Biochem is pretty useful, but if your university splits it up into 2 semesters (as most do), it's usefulness for med school will be limited if you are only taking the first part. Biochem I is a lot of structure memorization, memorizing the amino acids and the pI values for all of the R groups, memorizing the structures of membrane lipids, memorizing DNA structure on a primary, secondary, and tertiary level, etc. Medical biochem really doesn't focus on any of this as it is non-structural for the most part. Biochem I can be pretty challenging - not only do you need to memorize all of these structures, but you need to have a good understanding of the implications of the structures (e.g. why DNA hydrogen bonds then way it does based on the structure of the nucleotides - same with proteins and protein-protein interactions). There is also usually a lot of enzyme material in biochem I (learning how enzymes work and memorizing some of the simpler mechanisms).

    Biochem II is a whole different ballgame. It is completely pathway-based. I'm taking it now and it's a bit tougher than the first semester. As a poster above noted, you will be responsible for memorizing every intermediate in glycolysis and the Kreb's cycle, as well as every enzyme that catalyzes every reaction, all cofactors involved, and what inhibits or activates each pathway (and at what steps). Glycolysis and TCA are just the tip of the iceburg though (I think we covered both in the first 3 weeks of the semester). You will also need to have the same level of understanding (all structures and enzymes) of the pentose phosphate pathway, photosynthetic dark/light reactions, gluconeogenesis, glycogenolysis, the urea cycle, amino acid synthesis and degradation (which is a LOT to memorize), and nucleotide synthesis and degradation. For us, this covered the next 8 weeks. We are now spending the remaining time looking at molecular genetics from a biochemical point of view.

    Since most of the stuff in biochem II is covered again in med school (no structures, more of an understanding of enzymes and pathways of intermediates), I would HIGHLY recommend taking it. It would be nice to have at least seen this stuff before. It's not totally necessary to have taken it prior to matriculation (many don't), so if you think you'll find vertebrate structure more interesting, go with that. But again - not only is biochem interesting and challenging, you will undoubtedly see the material again.
     
  7. vixen

    vixen I like members 10+ Year Member

    5,760
    1
    Oct 17, 2000
    upstate ny
    I hated it, but its pretty damn helpful. Just get somewhat of an understanding, then memorize everything! That's all I did in that class...memorize, memorize, memorize. I recommend Stryer...its a detailed book, but it has good pics and covers it all...

    Lippincott is good too, but its kinda brief. Go with Stryer :)
     
  8. brandonite

    brandonite Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    2,264
    3
    Oct 19, 2001
    Manitoba, Canada
    Very well said, rxfudd... Our class is structured exactly similar to that. I just threw the Kreb's cycle out there as an example... We had glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, Kreb's, electron transport chain, and all of the photosynthetic pathways on the first midterm. We just finished the midterm on the urea cycle, all of the amino acid synthesis pathways, the fatty acid synthesis and oxidation pathways, and a couple others I'm forgetting now.

    But, it's not as bad as it seems. A lot of this stuff makes sense, after a while. And things are usually named pretty reasonably. If you know your organic nomenclature and reactions, you should be able to think your way through most of the pathways...
     
  9. daisygirl

    daisygirl woof 15+ Year Member

    1,528
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    Nov 28, 2001
    perpetually cranky
    All of the stuff that rxfudd mentioned was covered in one semester at my school <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" /> .No wonder biochem was complete hell when I was taking it <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" /> .
     
  10. THE instiGATOR

    THE instiGATOR Cow Tipper 7+ Year Member

    1,626
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    Sep 27, 2001
    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by daisygirl:
    <strong>All of the stuff that rxfudd mentioned was covered in one semester at my school <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" /> .No wonder biochem was complete hell when I was taking it <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" /> .</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Yeah, but it wasn't as hard as P Chem is! Right?!? :D That will know be my yardstick when measuring the difficulty of classes. Everything will seem like cake.

    I like your location! The world revolves around P Chem when you're dealing with it. <img border="0" alt="[Laughy]" title="" src="graemlins/laughy.gif" />
     
  11. rxfudd

    rxfudd 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    1,344
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    Feb 13, 2001
    Chicago suburbs
    One point that I think should also be made (looking back at the original post) is that nothing in biochem really requires organic except for undertanding structures and basic reactions. I think people get the idea that because organic is a prereq for biochem (and since many med schools will take biochem as a replacement for organic) that you will be using organic chem. This is NOT the case. There are a few points where you need to understand what a dehydration reaction is or where you need to understand nucleophilic attack - you should also be very comfortable with the idea of reduction/oxidation with respect to ketones, aldehydes, and carboxylic acids. However, about 95% or organic chem goes completely unused in biochem. None of the fun benzene reactions, conjugated dienes, aldol condensations will EVER be used, nor will you have to remember all the different reagents/ways to reduce an alkene, name a molecule, or do any sort of synthesis reactions. In fact, the only thing I've really used for more than a passing concept here or there is the R,S notation (which in biochem is L and D). So don't feel like you should jump right into biochem just because you have organic fresh in your mind. I had two years in between organic and biochem and it didn't make any difference whatsoever.
     
  12. daisygirl

    daisygirl woof 15+ Year Member

    1,528
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    Nov 28, 2001
    perpetually cranky
    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Bubba Swamp:
    <strong> </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by daisygirl:
    <strong>All of the stuff that rxfudd mentioned was covered in one semester at my school <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" /> .No wonder biochem was complete hell when I was taking it <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" /> .</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Yeah, but it wasn't as hard as P Chem is! Right?!? :D That will know be my yardstick when measuring the difficulty of classes. Everything will seem like cake.

    I like your location! The world revolves around P Chem when you're dealing with it. <img border="0" alt="[Laughy]" title="" src="graemlins/laughy.gif" /> </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Oh Bubba, you know that the UNIVERSE revolves around p chem when you're taking it <img border="0" alt="[Wowie]" title="" src="graemlins/wowie.gif" /> .
    I keep having this reoccuring nightmare where I am not able to finish my lab write-ups and I wind up losing my med school acceptance because of this <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" /> . Only p-chem can do this to you folks!
     
  13. THE instiGATOR

    THE instiGATOR Cow Tipper 7+ Year Member

    1,626
    3
    Sep 27, 2001
    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by daisygirl:
    <strong>Oh Bubba, you know that the UNIVERSE revolves around p chem when you're taking it <img border="0" alt="[Wowie]" title="" src="graemlins/wowie.gif" /> .
    I keep having this reoccuring nightmare where I am not able to finish my lab write-ups and I wind up losing my med school acceptance because of this <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" /> . Only p-chem can do this to you folks!</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"><img border="0" alt="[Laughy]" title="" src="graemlins/laughy.gif" />

    I understand completely. I went to talk to my prof about my worries. He said, while rubbing his chin, "So, what do you need to keep your acceptance?". I didn't know how to respond. I thought he may be looking for a glass ceiling to keep me from heading off to USA next year! He has been evil. Why shouldn't I expect this?!?

    Oh yeah, so this isn't totally off topic. My biochem was 1 semester. It had a significant amount of orgo in it, hence the title BIORGANIC CHEMISTRY...yeah, it's a stupid name (where's the other O?!?).

    I like the "Oh Bubba" beginning, daisygirl! Makes me feel like king of the trailor park!
     
  14. THE instiGATOR

    THE instiGATOR Cow Tipper 7+ Year Member

    1,626
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    Sep 27, 2001
    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by heelpain:
    <strong> </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Bubba Swamp:
    <strong>You wanna know about biochem? Well...

    The first thing to come out of my profs mouth:
    "How many of you are premeds?
    Let me tell you something...
    I hate premeds!
    The only people I hate more than premeds are prevets, because the only people more disgusting than those who will put their hands in a human oriface are those who will put their hands in an animal oriface!"

    The second thing to come out of his mouth:
    "All you smart ass premeds...
    ...when you're out there practicing medicine...
    ...don't try to use your "brain" when writing prescriptions! Just do what we chemists tell you to!!!"

    I hated every moment of that class. The C I earned in that class is the only one I have on my transcript. I'll be adding another this semester. I got the feeling this dude was an unsuccessful applicant. Unsuccessful premeds shouldn't be allowed to be professors! :D </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">One thing to think about...

    The classes that he had to take were harder than what pre-meds and prevets had to take. Imagine, we take algebra based physics. His physics was calculus based. He had to do well in courses that are MUCH HARDER than a pre-med course would ever get.

    Pre-med general entrance req's never gets as hard as PChem and the math physics courses required for an advanced chem degree.

    Also, to get to his position, one needs to have done well in courses way above the pre-med level.

    ciao</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Either that or he's completely evil. Having taken the class, I choose the latter. :D I had to take calc based physics, I had to take P Chem, yadda yadda yadda... Let's just say that he is the only prof who has made people in his class cry. During the final, girls were crying everywhere! <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" />

    I respect my chem profs. Most of them are super cool. This guy had an agenda.
     
  15. daisygirl

    daisygirl woof 15+ Year Member

    1,528
    2
    Nov 28, 2001
    perpetually cranky
    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"> Let's just say that he is the only prof who has made people in his class cry. During the final, girls were crying everywhere! <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" /> </font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">This is scary and it also "smells" like someone has an agenda...What does he think he is preparing his students for..the marines? :rolleyes: <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" /> :rolleyes:
     
  16. CUarzt

    CUarzt Member 7+ Year Member

    99
    2
    Mar 27, 2002
    State of Confusion
    to answer the original post: at least at my undergrad, they say that biochem is a fantastic course to take before the mcats.

    a student here took biochem his senior year and wished like mad he had taken it before his junior yr april mcats. i believe my undergrad has biochem as a one-semester deal.

    so yes, i do think it's a good decision; as for difficulty, i hear it's a "step-down" from organic, etc.

    as you can tell, i have yet to take the class, so i don't know for sure.

    either way, best of luck to you...

    just my $.02 :D
     
  17. I'm with everyone else with this one: Take biochem. In fact, the only school i have been accepted to so far requires biochem I and II. (That happens to be the unaccredited FSU).

    You guys seem to have it easy. I not only am learning all the glycolysis/TCA substrates and products, but all the darn mechanisms.

    Some of my homies at med school have told me that biochem at undergrad is different than biochem at med school. What have you guys heard?

    either way Julian, i would not take too many difficult science courses at the same time as biochem. At my school, biochem is the hardest science course by far(professor give about 3 A's out of 85 students) i got a B in biochem I and i am currently on my way to another B in part II
     

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