Problem-Based Learning Resources

Sensorimotor Systems & Behavior

Created by Eric C. Niederhoffer, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Copyright 2000- , E.C. Niederhoffer. All Rights Reserved.
All trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective owners.

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Problem-Based Learning Resources page is designed to support the three objective areas defined by the curriculum.

Check back often for resource page updates! [External links to resources are added (by me) and deleted (by them).]

  • Self-direct learning and articulation
  • Reasoning
  • Interpersonal and group skills

For more information concerning these objectives see PBL: A Student Guide.

As your tutor group works through an Electronic Problem-Based Learning Module (ePBLM), learning issues (LI) will be developed. Some groups (as well as some of the cases) are better at this than others. Some groups (and some of the cases) lose focus from time-to-time and important issues are lost in the shuffle.

In order to foster your ability to develop LI and build a knowledge base in biochemistry, including cell and molecular biology (USMLE Step 1 content outlines), I have created unit LI grids, featured topics, major points, and correlated readings. One can build a foundation by learning about specific topics or by asking questions pertinent to each case. You should note that many of the potential LI appear in multiple cases and across units. You have multiple opportunities to encounter these topics, so don't think that you must completely cover them with any particular case. These LIs will be revisited as the unit continues and also through cases encountered in other units. Note that the link to an ePBLM resource page will be activated as tutor groups process that particular case (usually after the first tutor group session).

Metabolic pathways in SSB again focus on where they start (substrates), where they finish (products), important intermediates, and regulated steps that are targets of medications.

You will find that my approach differs from that of other faculty. I use animated illustrations during the scheduled resource sessions. My approach is to cover the important content and concepts embedded in each topic (reflecting the LIs) in order to provide you with a "big picture of what is important with a clinical emphasis. If you enjoy collected facts, those details are readily available in Devlin and Nelson & Cox (see below for recommended textbooks). You will get more from the resource sessions if you are prepared for each of the associated topics. For those of you with adequate backgrounds in biochemistry, these sessions may not be useful for you. Remember, the resource sessions are optional.

In order to be prepared for tutor group discussions and mid-unit and end-of-unit examinations (and the USMLE), you will be best served by knowing about the topics discussed in the resource sessions (which result from the learning issues), being familiar with the content associated with these topics that can be read from Devlin and Nelson & Cox, and completing the SAQs for each case. I design questions that address general concepts and, in some cases, pertinent clincally oriented content. Every examination question has its origin in the SAQs, which support the LIs. The answer to questions that addess "What is on the exam?" or "What do I need to know?" is contained in the SAQs. I encourage questions that better help you understand the topics and learning issues. Some students have found it very useful to construct a biochemical pathways illustration or map that puts all of the information from the learning issues and resource sessions together.


Mid-Unit Exam Topics

The topics for the mid-unit examination are contained in the final learning issues and supported by the self-assessment questions.

End-of-Unit Exam Topics

The topics for the end-of-unit examination are contained in the final learning issues and supported by the self-assessment questions. Slides for the SSB EOU review

Remediation Exam Topics

The topics for the remediation examination are contained in the final learning issues and supported by the self-assessment questions.

General Resources

You might anticipate exploring the following topics:


 alcohol metabolism (ppt)  enzymes and inhibitors (ppt, To print use doc or pdf)
 action potential  extracellular matrix connections (ppt) and disorders (ppt)
 apoptosis (ppt)  gene expression (transcription and translation)
 auditory transduction  glycolysis (ppt)
 axonal transport  glycoproteins (ppt)
 bases of clinical assays and tests  inflammation (ppt)
 bases of genetic diseases (docx, pdf) (definitions)  ion transport in muscle tissue
 bone remodeling and repair (ppt)  ion transport in brain tissue
 cell communication through gap junctions  ketone bodies (ppt)
 cell cycle (ppt)  molecular analyses of genes
 cell membrane structure (ppt)  muscle contraction
 connective tissue  muscle proteins
 electron transport chain (ppt)  neurotransmitter synthesis (ppt, ppt) and processing (ppt)
 energy production in brain tissue (ppt, ppt)  signal transduction of smell (ppt) and taste (ppt)
 energy production in eye tissue (ppt, ppt)  tricarboxylic acid cycle (ppt)
 energy production in muscle tissue (ppt)  visual transduction (ppt)
 energy production in nervous tissue (ppt, ppt, ppt, ppt)  vitamins and dietary sources (ppt)

General Internet Resources

 Biocarta cellular and metabolic pathways
 Corrrelated readings for clinical laboratory tests
 emedicine for diagnoses and differentials
 Lab Tests Online
 Neurology education home page (SIU-SOM password required)
 Neuromuscular home page (Washington University)
 The Medical Biochemistry Page (for details of pathways)
 Videos of surgical procedures

I recommend the following textbooks for biochemistry and cell and molecular biology:

If you have a background in biochemistry use:

  • Salway, J. Medical biochemistry at a glance. 2nd edition, 2006. Blackwell. A good overview with pertinent details and illustrations.
  • Salway, J. G. Metabolism at a glance. 3rd edition, 2004. Blackwell. Effective illustrations for learning metabolic pathways. Good overview and pertinent details. The other "… at a glance" books are very good also. This is very good for learning metabolic pathways and regulation, probably the best that I have seen but is physical large in size. Some students find the illustrations too complicated.

If you DO NOT have a background in biochemistry use:

  • Baynes, J. W. and M. H. Dominiczak. Medical biochemistry. 2nd edition, 2005. Mosby-Yearbook. Good biochemistry textbook with better illustrations.
  • Lieberman, M. A. and A. Marks. Marks' essential medical biochemistry: a clinical approach. 3rd edition, 2008. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. Has effective clinical correlations.
  • Meisenberg, G. and W. H. Simmons. Principles of medical biochemistry. 2nd edition, 2006. Mosby-Yearbook. Good biochemistry textbook with better illustrations.

High quality references/board review books:

  • Devlin, T. M. (ed.). 2010. Textbook of biochemistry with clinical correlations, 7th ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York. This is very good for most of what you need.
  • Hark, L. and G. Morrison. Medical nutrition & disease: a case-based approach. 3rd edition, 2006. Blackwell. Good overview and clinical information.
  • Karp, G. (ed.). 2010. Cell and molecular biology: concept and experiments, 6th ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York. This covers cell biology topics not found in Devlin.
  • Murray, R. K., D. K. Granner, and V. W. Rodwell. Harper’s illustrated biochemistry. 27th edition, 2006. McGraw Hill. Review book.
  • Nelson, D. L., and M. M. Cox. (ed.). 2008. Lehninger principles of biochemistry, 5th ed. Worth, New York. This is very good for most of what you need but lacks the clinical correlations found in Devlin.
  • Sardesai, V. M. Introduction to clinical nutrition. 2nd edition, 2003. Marcel Dekker. Good information, more biochemistry aspects of nutrition, some errors were noted in structures of molecules.

The following textbooks are also useful:

  • Braunwald, E., A. S. Fauci, D. L. Kasper, S. L. Hauser, D. L. Longo, and J. L. Jameson (ed.). 2001. Harrison's principles of internal medicine, 15th ed. McGraw-Hill, Inc., New York.
  • Scriver, C. R., A. L. Beaudet, D. Valle, W. S. Sly, B. Childs, K. Kinzler, and B. Vogelstein (ed.). 2001. The metabolic and molecular bases of inherited disease, 8th ed. McGraw-Hill, Inc., New York.

The following may be quite useful also:


C2000 Resources

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Resources

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