cod. 13103

Academic year 2019/20
1° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Biochimica (BIO/10)
"struttura, funzione e metabolismo delle molecole d'interesse biologico"
Type of training activity
72 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The general objective of the course is to provide the students the bases to learn and understand:
- the fundamental concepts of chemistry to better understand the properties of matter, starting from the structure of atoms and molecules;
- useful basis for understanding, at a molecular level, the complex chemical processes inside the cell and in the metabolic pathways.
In particular, the aim is to bring the students into the knowledge and understanding of:
- the principles that regulate the compounds reactivity;
- bonds breaking or formation and the related energy exchange;
- the electron transfer;
- the kinetics of chemical reactions and the dynamic chemical equilibrium;
- the structure and properties of inorganic and organic compounds as well as of biological macromolecules;
- the properties of solutions and the equilibria in aqueous solutions;
- the properties of acids, bases, salts and buffers.
The chemistry of organic compounds and of biological macromolecules is described in a proper way to better understand the physiological and biochemical processes.


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Course unit content

General and Inorganic Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
Propaedeutic Biochemistry

Full programme


Introduction and atomic structure
Properties of matter. Elements and compounds. Sub-atomic particles. Atomic number, mass number, isotopes. Atomic and molecular weight, gram atom, gram molecule. Atomic structure; atomic orbitals and quantum numbers. Electronic configuration of the elements.

Periodic trends in the chemical properties of the elements
Periodic table. Periodic properties of the elements: atomic size, ionization energy, electron affinity, electronegativity. Electronic structure and chemical properties.

Chemical bonding
Ionic bond; covalent bond (pure, polar, dative) and molecular orbitals. Intermolecular bonding: dipole-dipole interactions, hydrogen bonding, van der Waals forces.

Inorganic chemical compounds
Hydrurs, binary acids, oxides and anhydrides, peroxides, hydroxides, acids, neutral and acidic salts: formation reactions, reaction balancing, nomenclature, structural formulas.

Chemical kinetics
Rates of chemical reactions, rate laws. The factors that affect chemical reaction rate: chemical nature of the reactants, concentration of the reactants (order of a reaction), temperature and catalysts. Molecular collision theory and transition state theory.

Chemical equilibria
Chemical equilibrium is a dynamic process. The general expression of the equilibrium constant. Factors that affect the chemical equilibrium: variations of concentration, volume, pressure, temperature. Le Chatelier’s principle.

Chemical thermodynamics
First principle of thermodynamics, the concept of enthalpy. Second principle of thermodynamics, the concept of entropy. Third law of thermodynamics. Free energy and spontaneity of chemical reactions; free energy and equilibrium constant.

Concentrations units: percent fraction w/w and w/v, molarity, molality, normality.
Colligative properties of solutions: boiling point elevation, freezing point depression; origin and significance of the osmotic pressure, van’t Hoff factor and osmolarity.
Acids and bases: Arrhenius theory, Bronsted and Lowry theory, Lewis theory. Acid-base equilibria. Strong acids and bases, weak acids and bases.
Water ionization. Concept of pH. Calculating the pH of acid and base (strong and weak) solutions. Hydrolysis of salts in water. Buffer solutions: properties and pH calculation.
Acid-base titrations.

Stoichiometric calculations. Balancing chemical equations.
Oxidation state and oxidation number; balancing ox-red reactions.
Chemistry exercises: concentrations of solutions, pH calculation of aqueous solutions containing different compounds, colligative properties.


Hybrid orbitals of carbon. Molecular and structural formulas. Types of reaction: substitution, addition, elimination. Electrophiles and nucleophiles reagents. Functional groups.

Hydrocarbons classification. Alkanes: nomenclature, physical properties and characteristic reactions. Structural isomerism. Cycloalkanes: structure and nomenclature. Alkenes and alkynes: nomenclature, physical properties and characteristic reactions.
Benzene: concept of aromaticity and properties. Benzene reactivity and most important substitution reactions. Substituents effect on reactivity and orientation.

Alcohols and phenols
Structure, classification and nomenclature. Physical and chemical properties; the acid-base behaviour. Characteristic reactions. Formation of ethers.

Aldehydes and ketones
Structure and nomenclature. Physical properties. Characteristic reactions and their mechanism: addition of water, alcohols, amine; aldol condensation.

Carboxylic acids and related carbonyl derivatives
Carboxylic acids: structure and nomenclature. Physical properties and acidity of carboxylic acids as a function of substituents. Characteristic reactions and mechanism of the preparation of esters.
Esters: nomenclature and properties; mechanism of the ester basic hydrolysis (saponification).
Anhydrides, amides and acid halides: structure, nomenclature and most important properties.

Structure, classification and nomenclature. Physical properties. Basicity of amines. Characteristic reactions. Aniline: structure and properties.

Stereoisomerism and optical activity
Fundamental concepts of molecular symmetry and asymmetry. Chirality: enantiomers and optical activity; diastereoisomers. Compounds with two or more chiral centers.

Propaedeutic Biochemistry

Classification and nomenclature. Optical isomerism of carbohydrates. Structure, properties and function of the most important monosaccharides, disaccharides and polisaccharides.

Fatty acids, triglycerides, saponification. Phospholipids and cerebrosides: structure and properties. Structural organization of lipids in water: micelles and lipid bilayers. Biological membranes: structure and function. Terpenes. Steroids: cholesterol and derivatives.

Amino acids and proteins
The 20 amino acids that occur in proteins: classification, structure and names. Acid-base behaviour of amino acids; isoelectric point. Peptide bond. The different levels of protein structure: primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary.

Nucleic acids
The sugar and the base components of nucleosides and nucleotides. Structure and nomenclature of nucleosides and nucleotides. Polynucleotides: structure and fundamental properties of RNA and DNA.


Bettelheim, Brown, Campbell, Farrel
Chimica e Propedeutica Biochimica

Mario Anastasia
Chimica di base per le scienze della vita
Antonio Delfino Editore
(2 volumi: Chimica generale e Chimica organica)

A. Albertini, M. Avitabile, U. Benatti, V. Boido, F. Guerrieri, G. Liut, L. Masotti, A. Spisni
Chimica Generale
Monduzzi Editore

Harold Hart, Leslie E. Craine, David. J. Hart
Chimica Organica
Zanichelli Editore

Lectures notes are provided by the teacher

Teaching methods

Metodo di Insegnamento: Frontal lectures.
Metodo di Valutazione: Written examination followed by oral test.

Assessment methods and criteria

Written examination followed by oral test.

Other information

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