Metabolism on-line - the virtual tutorial roomlogo


copyright © 2008 - 2014 David A Bender


The following sets of exercises are available:

Energy - what metabolism is all about
Carbohydrate digestion and metabolism
Lipid digestion and metabolism
Amino acid and nitrogen metabolism
Central pathways and the integration and control of metabolism

How to use these exercises

Each exercise is based around a clinical scenario or laboratory problem.

The exercises have been put together in the same way as a tutorial would be organised, with questions for you to think about and data for you to interpret. After you have thought about each question you can click to see the answer. Sometimes you can scroll up through a screen to see earlier parts of the exercise; at other times parts of the exercise may open fresh screens, in which case you will have to use the back button of your browser to see earlier material. Some of the sets of experimental data for you to interpret have come from classical experiments that provided the basis of our current understanding of metabolism. The aim is not for you to learn the history of biochemistry, but to see how our current knowledge and understanding developed from observation of abnormalities in diseases and interpretation of experimental data, development and testing of hypotheses, so that you could tackle new problems as they arise in future.

Some of the data concern common diseases or normal metabolic states. Other cases concern rare genetic diseases, some so rare that almost certainly you will never come across a case. However, these are what are considered to be important, as opposed to common, diseases, in that we have learnt, and can learn, a great deal about normal physiology and metabolism by studying what have been called "experiments of nature".

You may find it especially useful to work through these exercises with a group of friends, discussing the questions among yourselves as you go, before clicking to show the answers.

In the list of contents for each section there is a set of global objectives for that section, as well as a list of the topics that are covered by each exercise. At the beginning of each exercise is a more detailed list of objectives for that exercise, and at the end there is a list of key points you should have noted as you worked through the exercise.

This set of on-line problem-solving exercises to help you to learn and understand metabolism owes an immense debt of gratitude to Dr Anthony Smith, formerly of the Courtauld Institute of Biochemistry of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School (now part of University College London), who developed a self-learning manual called Carbohydrate and Fat Metabolism for Medical Students in 1971, and expanded it in 1977. Under his guidance, and that of the late Professor John Jepson, we used the manual to teach metabolism through a series of problem-solving tutorials for many years. At Tony's suggestion I have revived the metabolism manual, updated it and converted it from a set of paper-based problems and answers to this on-line format. The final product probably bears very little resemblance to the original metabolism manual that inspired it.

I am happy to make this Virtual Laboratory available as widely as possible. The programs are provided under a Creative Commons Licence. You are free to modify any of the theory pages, but I must ask that you respect my copyright and acknowledge my original authorship. You may not sell any of these programs or associated theory files.