Thank you for using Fundamentals of Biochemistry: Medical Course & Step 1 Review! Our goal is to help make biochemistry an approachable, clinically relevant subject for your first years of medical school and, most importantly, when you prepare to take the USMLE Step 1 examination.
Many medical students find biochemistry overwhelming. In most medical schools it is no longer a self-contained course like those taken in college—now it is one of many subjects covered in a whirlwind preclinical curriculum along with physiology, anatomy, pathology, and so on. In addition, at times it may seem hard to see the relevance of biochemistry for your future clinical career.
However, knowing biochemistry can greatly help you understand the basis of many disease processes. You do not have to memorize diseases and drugs by rote; you can attempt to group them by molecular mechanisms that make sense and reason through problems that show up months later, on Step 1 or on the wards. When you put biochemistry in a clinic context, learning it becomes less complicated as most puzzle pieces fall into place.
That is why we wanted to create a self-contained guide to high-yield biochemistry, with a focus on topics most likely to show up on the Step 1 exam. The text itself is in a simple outline format that contains all the high-yield information you need to know. Each chapter is also presented as a video lecture, available on McGraw-Hill’s AccessMedicine site, so that you can review the topics in real time and add additional notes to the printed version.
You should be able to pick the book up at any chapter and find a self-contained summary of the relevant topic. We begin with the basics of the cell (Chapter 1) and of DNA and protein synthesis (Chapters 2–4), then cover the central aspects of metabolism (in Chapters 5–8), and finish with nutrition (Chapter 9) and genetics (Chapter 10). Where we felt that it may help you, we included cross-references among chapters. If you are not sure whether you need a full review of a topic, you can try the practice questions at the end of each chapter. Each has an explanation with reference to the text for quick review.
We hope that you will find this book useful as you go through your preclinical courses, so that you can put biochemistry in context of the rest of your studies. The book is designed to facilitate an efficient review of biochemistry as you begin to study for Step 1, as it covers all the high-yield topics that show up most often on that exam. We have found that, if you can begin your preparation for Step 1 having already studied some biochemistry, it will be much easier to review high-yield topics without getting overwhelmed.
Finally, we want to acknowledge some of the people who helped us put this resource together. Thanks a lot to the medical students at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who generously gave their time to review and provide valuable feedback on each of the chapters. Thanks also to Michael and Peter at McGraw-Hill, for providing us with the chance and the freedom to create this book.
We hope that you will enjoy it!