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DEPARTMENT OF BIOCHEMISTRY
CHRISTIAN MEDICAL COLLEGE, VELLORE

CURRICULUM FOR FIRST YEAR MEDICAL STUDENTS

 

I. INTRODUCTION
II. THE SYLLABUS

III. THE CURRICULUM
IV. LIST OF RECOMMENDED TEXTBOOKS FOR THE COURSE
V. PERIODIC REVIEW OF STUDENT PERFORMANCE
VI. UNIVERSITY EXAMINATIONS
VII. USE OF THE CMC E-LEARNING WEBSITE
VIII. PRIZES IN BIOCHEMISTRY
IX. OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS TO PARTICIPATE IN RESEARCH IN BIOCHEMISTRY
X. GUIDANCE AND GRIEVANCE REDRESSAL

X. COURSE-RELATED QUERIES/COMMUNICATIONS

 

 

I. INTRODUCTION
The Department of Biochemistry welcomes you to the first year of your four and half year medical course at the Christian Medical College, Vellore, which is affiliated to the Dr. MGR Medical University, Tamil Nadu. Biochemistry is one of the 3 subjects you will study in the pre-clinical phase of your course. The subject will introduce you to the chemical basis of life, and will help you understand the biochemical basis of health and of diseases you will come across as you go through your course. The subject encompasses basic and clinical biochemistry, cellular biology and molecular biology. We hope you will enjoy the course and your association with the faculty and staff in the department.

 
II. THE SYLLABUS
(as prescribed by the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University, Chennai)[2]: For the full syllabus, click here and scroll down to the pages that detail the MBBS syllabus in Biochemistry. 

III. THE CURRICULUM
During the course of this year, Biochemistry will be taught via the medium of lectures (theory classes), practical sessions, problem-based learning and clinical case-based small group discussions.

A. LECTURES
The bulk of the syllabus will be covered by lectures taken by the teaching faculty. These will basically be didactic in nature, but student participation in the teaching-learning process is actively encouraged. The lecturer will use audio-visual aids including PowerPoint presentations, animations and simulations to aid classroom learning. The lecture presentation will be available for students on the e-learning website (see later) within a day of completion of the lecture.

The tentative lecture schedule for the academic year is given in the schedules section. Minor variations may occur in the schedule as the year progresses.
 
B. PRACTICAL SESSIONS
These sessions will consist of two hours each, usually on Thursdays and Fridays, between 3 and 5 pm. Depending on circumstances, in some weeks, practical sessions will be held on Fridays (3 to 5 pm) and Saturdays (10.15 am to 12.30 pm). Information regarding this will be intimated to students as and when the need for this arises.

Students will be divided into two batches (A and B) for the practical sessions. In each session, one batch will do the assigned practical task, while the other group will be involved in other activities which may include discussion of clinical scenarios, viva voce examinations or tests.

The observation note book
This will be a 100-page long note book which each student needs to bring to every practical session. It will be used to record observations and inferences as and when the student does experiments in the laboratory. The student is expected to get his/her observation book inspected and signed by the staff-in-charge at the end of each practical session.

The practical record book
Each student will be given a copy of a practical record book. This contains procedures of all the experiments students are expected to perform. Each practical session will be preceded by a member of the faculty giving instructions for carrying out the various procedures involved. The practical work done each week is to be recorded in the observation note book, corrected by a member of staff and then transcribed into the practical record book.

Each student is expected to keep his/her record book up-to-date. This will include writing answers to questions at the end of each experiment. The completed record book has to be submitted regularly for evaluation, each time that a practical experiment is done. They will be corrected and graded by a staff member in the department and returned to the students at the end of the week.

Laboratory apparatus and equipment
The following laboratory equipment and glassware will be issued to each student at the start of the course:
1. Test tubes (12)
2. Test tube rack (1)
3. Test tube holder (1)
4. Test tube brush (1)
5. Funnel (1)
6. Beaker (250ml) (1)
7. Glass rod (1)
8. Boiling tube (1)
9. Marker pen

Each student will be allotted a small cupboard in the practical laboratory in which he/she will keep the laboratory apparatus given. He/she will be responsible for the equipment issued. Each student should keep his/her cupboard locked when they leave the laboratory after each practical session. The department will accept no responsibility for loss of apparatus or personal items stored in these cupboards. Breakage of glassware and/or loss of apparatus will result in the student being charged for the losses.

Each student is expected to read and follow the instructions in the first few pages of the practical record titled ‘Laboratory use and safety precautions’. Personal safety in the laboratory is the student's responsibility. Each student should ensure that all safety precautions recommended are followed strictly.

The tentative practical schedule for the academic year is available in e-learning website. .

C. INTEGRATED LEARNING PROGRAMME (ILP):
This is a teaching-learning method that takes place outside of a formal classroom setting. One of the components of this module is problem-based learning (PBL). The process starts with students being given a clinical case to discuss. It is a way of learning designed to make learning a student-centered process.

The topics in biochemistry covered under the ILP include:
1. Metabolism of bilirubin
2. Disorders associated with metabolism of bilirubin
3. Liver functions tests

Students will be trained in the PBL process prior to starting the ILP. At the end of the ILP, they will be tested on knowledge in the topics they have learnt about during the ILP. The precise format for these tests will be discussed with the students at the time of the ILP.

D. CLINICAL CASE-BASED LEARNING
The clinical case-based learning sessions are designed to help students apply their knowledge of biochemistry to understanding disease processes in the body. The relevance of biochemistry in understanding the pathogenesis (processes by which disease develops) of disease and the rationale behind treatment modalities will be emphasized. The cases to be discussed will be put up on the e-learning website ahead of the discussion session. Students are expected to come prepared to discuss the cases and to answer the questions asked at the end of each case. The batch will be divided into groups of 10 each and a staff member will guide the students in the discussions.

 
IV. LIST OF RECOMMENDED TEXTBOOKS FOR THE COURSE
Students are advised to browse through the following books recommended and buy any one of these that they may prefer.
1. Biochemistry (Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews) (7th ed) by Denise R Ferrier

2. Textbook of Biochemistry for Medical Students (9th ed) by DM Vasudevan, Sreekumari S and Kannan Vaidyanathan

3. Harper's Illustrated Biochemistry (30th or 31st ed by Rodwell, Bender, Botham, Kennelly and Weil)


Reference books
1. Mark's Essentials of Medical Biochemistry A Clinical Approach (2007)
2. Textbook of Biochemistry with Clinical Correlations (7th ed by Devlin)
3. Clinical Chemistry: Principles, Techniques and Correlations (7th ed by Bishop, Fody and Schoeff) 
 
V. PERIODIC REVIEW OF STUDENT PERFORMANCE
Periodic reviews of each student's academic performance and attendance will be conducted, both at the level of the department and jointly with the Principal. It is mandatory for students who do not obtain at least 50% marks in the periodic tests to attend support classes that are held each week in the department.

Students who have produce a valid sick leave for the day of test are eligible for a retest. Only sick leave slips produced within the same week of the test will be accepted. Retest will be conducted on Friday of the following week after the class.

These support classes will be held from the start of the course, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 4.45 pm to 6 pm. For the first 3 months, these classes will be optional. Students who find Biochemistry difficult are encouraged to attend them. Attendance for these will be made mandatory later in the year for those who perform poorly in the periodic tests. 

Apart from this, students are encouraged to seek and make use of extra academic help from staff members and their mentors.
 
VI. UNIVERSITY EXAMINATIONS
Students will be required to take the exams conducted by the university in August each year, at the end of their first year. They will be required to do 2 theory papers of 50 marks each and practical and oral examinations.
 

Exam pattern:

  1. Theory paper I :           50 marks
  2. Theory paper II:          50 marks
  3. Practical:                     40 marks
  4. Viva voce:                   20 marks
  5. Internal assessment:    40 marks (Theory- 20 marks: Practical- 15 marks; Record- 5 marks)


    A minimum of 50% is required in each of the above five components for a pass.


    For the distribution of theory topics between Paper I and II, refer to the university syllabus (click here.)


B. PRACTICALS
Marks: 40 marks

 

Components of practical exams: 
1. Major experiment: 12 marks

2. Minor experiment: 12 marks

3. Charts/Suggest Investigation: 12 marks (3 charts x 4 marks)

4. OSPE: 4 marks (2 performance stations x 2 marks)

1. Major experiment involving quantitative estimation of common blood analytes: (12 marks)

a) A case history of a patient will be given. Students will be asked to write down provisional diagnosis and relevant investigations for the case. 

b) Students are required to learn the reference ranges for the parameters estimated. 

c) Students are required to know the principle and procedure of the estimation of the analyte chosen for estimation. 

d) Students will be asked to carry out an estimation of one specific and relevant analyte. 

e) At the end of this, an examiner will discuss the medical relevance of the analyte estimated with special reference to the patient in the case history given and related metabolism of the analyte. 

2. Minor experiment: Qualitative - Identification of abnormal constituents of urine (12 marks).

3. Charts (3 charts) x 4 marks = 12 marks

4. Objective Structured Practical Exercise (OSPE) (Two performance stations) (2 x 2 = 4 marks)

(For Charts and OSPEs refer to the respective folders under Biochemistry on the e-learning site.)

VIVA - 20 marks

Suggested Division of topics among 4 examiners:

I. Carbohydrates – Chemistry & metabolism, Cell, Biological Oxidation, Oxidative phosphorylation, TCA cycle

II. Proteins – Chemistry & metabolism, Enzymes, Plasma, Function tests, Xenobiotics, Hormones

III. Lipids – Chemistry & metabolism, Vitamins, Minerals, Nutrition, Porphyrins, Hemoglobin, Jaundice 

IV. Nucleic acid chemistry & metabolism, Molecular Biology, Water, Electrolytes and Acid- Balance
 

D. INTERNAL ASSESSMENT

Marks: 40 (Theory: 20 marks; Practical: 15 marks; Record: 5 marks)
Marks for internal assessment will be calculated on the basis of marks obtained by a student in theory, viva, practical tests and record evaluations held by the department through the course of the year.
 
Total marks in university examinations in Biochemistry: 200

 VII. USE OF THE CMC E-LEARNING WEBSITE
The e-learning website of CMC provides learning resources for medical students. The Department of Biochemistry provides the following resources on the site:
1. Lecture presentations
2. Assignments
3. Clinical case scenarios
4. Quizzes
5. Material for practical classes
6. Departmental policies and objectives
7. Important announcements, etc.

The site can be accessed at http://e-learning.cmcvellore.ac.in using a user name and password that will be given to each student. When they start the course, students will be given a short training session in the use of this website. They are expected to further familiarize themselves with the use of this website by using it on a regular basis.
Please contact the Department of Library Services (telephone no. 2530) in case of difficulty in accessing the website or doubts regarding its use.
 
VIII. PRIZES IN BIOCHEMISTRY
There are 2 prizes in Biochemistry that are awarded to MBBS students each year.

S.C. DEVADUTTA PRIZE
The S.C. Devadutta prize in Biochemistry is given every year to a medical student, in any year of the course, who submits the best essay on any topic of his/her interest in contemporary biochemistry. The submitted essays will be evaluated by a panel consisting of members of faculty, from both within and outside the department. Usually 3 of the best essays will be short-listed. Students who have their essays short-listed will make an oral presentation and the prize winner will be decided based on the degree of their understanding of the topic, the depth of study done and clarity of presentation of scientific facts. The prize will be awarded on Graduation Day every year.
 
Eligibility: All medical students (including first year students).

AMURTUR IYER PRIZE
The Amurtur Iyer Prize is awarded each year to the student who scores the highest marks in Biochemistry in the first year of the course.
 
IX. OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS TO PARTICIPATE IN RESEARCH IN BIOCHEMISTRY
The Department of Biochemistry is actively involved in research. Students who are interested in taking up short research projects can contact members of the faculty in the department who are involved in such work. Such members of faculty will take on and supervise interested students. Carrying out a project is subject to availability of funds in the department and the time commitment that a student is willing to make. Students interested in pursuing such work will need to work outside regular working hours or during the vacations. Such work does not necessarily have to be pursued during the first year of the course. Students, who are interested, can opt for such work even after they have finished the first year of their course.
 
X. GUIDANCE AND GRIEVANCE REDRESSAL
All students are encouraged to interact freely with the faculty of the department. Members of faculty are available to help students with problems, both academic and non-academic. All questions and grievances related to academic matters will be dealt with by the head of the department.

XI. COURSE-RELATED QUERIES/COMMUNICATIONS
All course-related queries/communications are to be made to the Department Secretary (Ph: 4267 (0416-2284267; e-mail: biochemistry@cmcvellore.ac.in).

Working hours: 8.00 am – 12.30 pm; 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm
 
REFERENCES:
1. Medical Council of India Salient features of regulations on graduate medical education, 1997. Published in Part III, Section 4 of the Gazette of India, dated 17th march 1997. (Click here)

2. The Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University - Revised syllabus for Biochemistry, 2012. (Click here)

3. The Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University - FIRST, SECOND & FINAL YEAR MBBS DEGREE COURSE SCHEME OF PRACTICAL EXAMINATION FROM FEBRUARY 2015 onwards. (Click here)