BIOSCI106

FOUNDATIONS OF BIOCHEMISTRY

Course Breakdown

 

Online Quizzes: 5%

Laboratories: 25%

Mid Semester Test: 30%

Exam: 40%

Course Information

 

Recommended Textbook:

  • Biochemistry  (6th ed) - Campbell & Farrel


UoA Course Website: link.

Basic Information

 

BIOSCI106 is one of those really nice courses which reminds you that everything that you are learning has a purpose. With the one and only Dr Julie McIntosh as your course coordinator, the course is well planned and organised. The BIOSCI106 course sits at the intersection amongst all other courses as BIOSCI106 is more about applying and expanding previously encountered concepts in your first year of biomed. Although both, BIOSCI101 and BIOSCI106 are in second semester, what you will find is that these two courses will have plenty of overlapping content as BIOSCI 101 will tend to give you a general concept but BIOSCI106 will expand upon the same content more. It sounds confusing, but it is really a blessing disguise because more often than not, if you have the 106 concepts down then 101 will be a breeze (and vise versa).

 

Similar to the BIOSCI101 course guide, BIOSCI106 didn’t really contain extensive notes that matched the lecture notes presented by the lecturers (at least in 2019) – it was mainly packed with diagrams which required annotation during lectures or referral upon studying. No fret! Just as most BIOSCI courses, the most important source for you at the end of the day are the lecture slides.

 

Next, I have some good news for y’all stressed out first years… Rather than being detail intensive like MEDSCI142 or BIOSCI107 in which you had to know every word of every diagram, BIOSCI106 is a course that is all about giving you the basic concept of biochemistry. So, when you catch yourself being disorganised, always understand the general concept before you start dwelling on every detail.

 

The document camera was used quite a bit in 2019 and it is also recorded to be broadcasted with the rest of the lecture. The document camera, you will realise very quickly, is really the best feature of the entire lecture theater. When a lecturer uses the camera, the stars align as not only it forces you to also write notes down, but with the lecturers writing notes with you, it also slows down the lecture more a moment for you to really take in the concept.

 

Laboratory Component

The BIOSCI106 labs are really enjoyable as they build on the lectures so that you end up having a better understanding of the concepts. The labs in BIOSCI106 were similar to the BIOSCI101 labs in that you had to hand in a pre-lab sheet (found in the back of your course guide) as well as an in-lab assessment sheet that was handed in at the end of the lab but with less variation. Although the individual tasks were mainly quite basic (e.g. pipetting, using the spectrophotometer, unit conversions), the repetitive nature often led to some careless mistakes which compromised the whole experiment and resulted in wasted time starting over again. 

Lecture Content

Introduction to Proteins

The first 6 lectures were taught by Dr Chris Squire. He is a very approachable person who surprisingly performs experiments in the lecture theatre! His section consisted of protein biochemistry, molecular structure and function and required students to draw and label the protein structures that he presented in the lecture slides and document camera. (We would suggest practicing the drawings before the test). But those drawings are quite simple i.e. drawing a triple helix collagen molecule; as long as the main features of the diagram are shown, he will award you full marks.

 

​You are also required to be able to recognise differences between the different classifications of amino acids (basic from acidic, hydrophobic from hydrophilic, etc) and recognise a few specific amino acids based on their structure alone. Lecture content is closely associated with the Bonding topic from CHEM110 (hydrogen bonding, Van Der Waal forces etc) with the final lecture bridging into the next topic. We would recommend revising the lecture content before going into your first lab for this course as this will be very beneficial. His tutorial session was very helpful as he went through many different past questions in depth, and gave out hints for the test - be wary that he may decide to not record it!!

 

Enzymes

In 2019, this section was taught by Associate Professor Shaun Lott. Dr. Lott teaches by explaining his lecture slides and using the document camera to derive equations for enzyme activities. Although the content was relatively light, this section was conceptually taxing for many as it called upon knowledge of how graphs could be manipulated to gain insight into scientific phenomena. Many found Youtube and Google useful in addition to his lectures. The corresponding lab for this is also quite good in clarifying and consolidating your understanding of this section. His topics spanned:

  • Enzyme function, structure and inhibition

  • Control of enzyme action

  • Membrane structure and transport

  • The specific role of ATP

Certain symbols and jargon were also used quite a bit so it’s important to pay attention as to which symbol stands for what. Equations related to these graphs are also presented in the lectures which seemed very complex, however, in our year, he did emphasise that aside from the main few equations (Michaelis-Menten equation), other derived equations and the way in which they were derived need not be learnt.  

 

If you had never encountered enzyme chemistry then whilst you are in the lecture, you may find yourself getting a bit lost in the nooks and crannies of the concept, but I promise you, upon calming yourself down and a good review, enzyme chemistry is very doable. You will be fine! Once you get the concepts down, you should be able to succeed in this section as his questions in the In-course Test are quite straightforward.

Carbohydrate Metabolism

This section was taught by Associate Professor Kerry Loomes, the man who has whippet dogs, who used biochemistry to make himself a champion bodybuilder, and after his lectures, you will never see the Royal Oak roundabout the same way ever again (IFYKYK). With 8 lectures for this module this module is jam-packed with content (like the lecturer himself). Familiar biochemical pathways make an appearance here (Glycolysis, TCA Cycle, electron transport chain, etc...) which would indicate the amount of rote learning required for this section.

 

Contrary to BIOSCI101, the lecturer here expects students to know all the intermediates in glycolysis and the TCA Cycle, making memorizing skills all the more important. However, the content itself is quite interesting and the lectures and course guide make for excellent study material. Mnemonics and drawing out or writing out the biochemical pathways are quite useful for remembering the different substrates and enzymes!

Signal Transduction

This section was taught by Dr Monica Kam in 2019. Dr Monica Kam Is a fantastic lecturer as she always ensures to explain difficult concepts through simple analogies and only after she ensures that you understand the general concept, then further details are enclosed. Her lecture notes were in-depth and easily understandable. If you had previously done BIOSCI107 in semester 1 then this topic would be relatively straightforward as it builds on the simple signalling pathways that were taught in BIOSCI107 by Dr Suzanne Reid. Be sure to bring some extra paper to take down notes as Dr Monica Kam drew up very clear and simple diagrams (adapted from the course guide) which also formed the basis of many of the questions she tested us in the exam. Everything which we were required to know could be found in her course guide pages which made studying for this section much easier. 

 

​The key things to pay attention to in her section became obvious upon lecture attendance but for reiteration, things like: receptor structure similarities, differences between GPCRs and RTKs, and summaries of processes such as the G protein cycle were all very important. This section was probably considered the easiest due to the clarity of the information presented and the very steady pace at which the lecture was delivered.

 

Nutrition and Antibiotics

This module was split into two sub-sets:

  • Nutrition (4 lectures) – which covered things such as micro and macronutrients, adipocytes, obesity and other diseases.

  • Antibiotics (2 lectures) – which covered bacteriocides, bacteriostatic antibiotics and the discovery of some antibiotics, most notably penicillin.


This block of lectures in this course was probably the most interesting block to the majority of the students and it was presented by course coordinator Dr Julie McIntosh (in 2019). Much like lipid metabolism, this section is quite jam-packed with flow diagrams, facts, content and diagrams. Dr Julie McIntosh made her lectures quite fantastically enjoyable and easy to follow as she incorporates document camera notes with lecture slides. It was truly a joy to go to class as both the delivery of the lecture and the contents covered were so interesting and applicable for our everyday life. As nerdy as this sounds, after attending Dr McIntosh’s nutrition lectures, the health and vitamins aisle will become your favourite place to hang around. The antibiotics section of this topic really stressed everybody out because Dr Julie McIntosh really emphasized on the current issues of antibiotic resistance and it really freaked everybody out.

Signal Transduction

This section was taught by Dr Monica Kam in 2019. Dr Monica Kam is a fantastic lecturer as she always ensures to explain difficult concepts through simple analogies and only after she ensures that you understand the general concept, then further details are enclosed. Her lecture notes were in-depth and easily understandable. If you had previously done BIOSCI107 in semester 1 then this topic would be relatively straightforward as it builds on the simple signaling pathways that were taught in BIOSCI107 by Dr Suzanne Reid. Be sure to bring some extra paper to take down notes as Dr. Monica Kam drew up very clear and simple diagrams (adapted from the course guide) which also formed the basis of many of the questions she tested us in the exam. Everything which we were required to know could be found in her course guide pages which made studying for this section much easier. 

 

​The key things to pay attention to in her section became obvious upon lecture attendance but for reiteration, things like: receptor structure similarities, differences between GPCRs and RTKs, and summaries of processes such as the G protein cycle were all very important. This section was probably considered the easiest due to the clarity of the information presented and the very steady pace at which the lecture was delivered.

Lipids - Roles & Metabolism

This section was taught by Associate Professor Jane Allison. This topic is the finale of BIOSCI106, for many, this was the toughest section in all of it all. The lecturer teaches well, explaining ideas eloquently, but the sheer amount of information in the amount of time (especially in the end of semester 2) can be overwhelming. However, Associate Professor Jane Allison makes bomber lecture slides, and everything you need is explained clearly on them. Therefore, I would suggest going through her slides beforehand, annotating your course guide accordingly. This spares you the effort of copying things down furiously during lectures and thus allows you to properly hear and understand what is being taught.  Provided you are not discouraged by the sheer amount of detail, you have all the ability to do well!