Physical Biochemistry

Academic year
Subject Area
Área Científica do Menor
Language of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
1st Cycle Studies

Recommended Prerequisites

Priorattendance to the following courses: "General Chemistry", "Introduction to Biology" and "Mathematics and Modeling". Required Scientific background: general chemistry, cell biology and calculus. The students should be proficient in written English, in order to handle the recommended bibliography (mostly textbooks in English). 

Teaching Methods

Two main strategies are followed so that teaching becomes interactive: (i) students are encouraged to ask frequent questions; (ii) teachers pose queries in advance on the various matters, to be answered through appropriate discussions at later stages. Active learning is also supported by (i) frequent problem solving; (ii) frequent computer simulations.

Learning Outcomes

Students are expected to acquire fundamental knowledge on Physical-Chemistry applied to Biochemistry, including (1) redox reactions, in association with the study of biological systems of electron transport; (2) chemical kinetics, in association with the study of enzyme kinetics. Hence, this course unit lays the foundations to understanding reaction mechanisms and pathways in enzyme catalysis and energy metabolism. An additional aim is the further motivation of students to the study of key chemistry concepts, via the association with relevant biochemistry matters.

Work Placement(s)



1- Redox Reactions. Electromotive force of a cell and the spontaneity of redox reactions. Concentration cells;

2- Oxidation Processes and Energy Production in Mitochondria. The mitochondrial electron transport chain and the chemiosmotic theory of oxidative phosphorylation;

3- Equilibrium between Macromolecules and Small Ligands. Identical and independent binding sites. The "concerted" and "sequential" models. Cooperative binding. Dialysis equilibrium;

4- Chemical Kinetics. Velocity laws and the order of a reaction. Transition state theory, activation energy and Arrhenius Law;

5- Enzyme Kinetics. The "lock and key" and "induced fit" models for the enzyme-substrate complex. Michaelis-Menten kinetics. Enzymes with more than one substrate. Sequential and ping-pong reactions.

Head Lecturer(s)

Luís Manuel de Oliveira Martinho do Rosário

Assessment Methods

Frequency: 100.0%


(1) Chang, R. and Overby, J. General Chemistry: The Essential Concepts. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011, 6th ed.; (2) Nelson, D.L. and Cox, M.M. Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry. W.H. Freeman, 2013, 6th ed.; (3) Atkins, P. and de Paula, J. Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, 2nd ed.; (4) Tinoco Jr., I., Sauer, K., Wang, J.C. et al. Physical Chemistry: Principles and Applications in Biological Sciences. Pearson - Prentice Hall, 2014, 5th ed.; (5) Chang, R. Physical Chemistry for the Biosciences. Sausalito, CA: University Science Books, 2005.