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Peer Review

Molecular Biochemistry

by Joyce Diwan


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.9 stars
Content Quality: 4.8 stars
Effectiveness: 4.9 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Mar 05, 2004 by Biology Editorial Board

The site provides a basic introduction to biochemistry; including colorful pathways, and nice links to 3-D structures (running under the CHIMES plug-in) for important enzymes with various pathways. This site could be considered an on-line Biochemistry textbook with embedded animations, pdb files and powerpoint presentations. Also contains links to tutorials, assignments, spreadsheets and potential examination questions. A very complete, thorough and accurate resource. The material is intended to be used in a studio-format class.

Type of Material:

Lecture notes, tutorials and animations. The site includes text surrounded by images and includes links to 3-D structures of proteins and various databases.

Recommended Uses:

As a supplement or replacement for a traditional textbook.

Technical Requirements:

Html, shockwave, Chimes plug-in

Identify Major Learning Goals:

Appears to be designed as an interactive on-line textbook, or supplement to a textbook. The major learning goals seem to be centered upon molecular biochemistry. The areas covered include basic structures of sugars, lipids, membranes, a description of channels and pumps, coverage of bioenergetics and the majority of the basic metabolic pathways.

Target Student Population:


Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:

Will need typical pre-requisites for an undergraduate biochemistry course, including some organic chemistry. A user may need to install CHIMES plug-in and have a firm grasp of how to use the various tools to display a protein model. This would take some time so that the in-class exercise is focused.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.8 stars

Quality of Content: 4.7, 4.9 = 4.8

  • The content is accurate and appropriate for most sections.
  • The material is of high quality and clearly laid out
  • The images are of high quality and the embedded .pdb files are used very appropriately to stress specific points made in the text
  • Given the magnitude of the topic being covered, the site is very concise and effective.

  • There does not appear to be a section on protein structure. This would be a nice addition to the site. (Editor's note: see author's comments below)
  • The sections on enzyme kinetics and ligand binding are buried deep within other topics. (Editor's note: see author's comments below)
  • It would be benefitial to include some fundamental protein purification/characterization tools.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.9 stars

Potential Effectiveness: 5, 4.8 = 4.9

  • The site is very complete at the end of each section there are a list of additional references and test questions.
  • This site would be nice to use in any beginning biochemistry course.
  • The protein models add an extra layer of learning for the students as they can visualize the proteins/enzymes behind all of the various pathways.
  • An excellent resource as either a stand alone tutorial, or as a supplement to a textbook.
  • Excellent graphics and links to interactive materials.

  • A little more development of critical thinking skills would strengthen the educational potential of this site.
  • A statement of the learning objectives of the site would also be benefitial.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars

Ease of Use: 5, 4.9 = 5

  • The text was well written, the images of high quality and the site well organized.
  • The site was easy to navigate, fast and had no defective links or major bugs

  • Making the site searchable would help students find some items that are buried under topic headings that would not be the first place one would look for the item. For example, enzyme kinetics are found at the bottom of the section on glycolysis.

Other Issues and Comments:

This has a strong potential for use in the classroom. I intend on using some of the material this upcoming summer during a one-semester biochemistry course.

The Author has indicated that protein structure and enzyme kinetics are covered in a different course and were therefore intentionally left out of this site

Comments from Author: I acknowledge that the site would be better with
separate sections on concepts of protein structure and
enzyme kinetics. Protein structure and enzyme kinetics are
taught at Rensselaer by another faculty member in the
initial half-semester of our two-semester course.