Principles of Medical Biochemistry 4th Edition
It is rumored that among students embarking on a course of study in the medical sciences, biochemistry is the most common cause of pretraumatic stress disorder: the state of mind into which people fall in anticipation of unbearable stress and frustration. No other part of their preclinical curriculum seems as abstract, shapeless, unintelligible, and littered with irrelevant detail as does biochemistry. This prejudice is understandable. Biochemistry is less intuitive than most other medical sciences. Even worse, it is a vast field with an everexpanding frontier. From embryonic development to carcinogenesis and drug action, biochemistry is becoming the ultimate level of explanation.
This fourth edition of Principles of Medical Biochemistry is yet another attempt to impose structure and meaning on the blooming, buzzing confusion of this runaway science. This text is designed for firstyear medical students as well as veterinary, dental, and pharmacy students and students in undergraduate premedical programs. Therefore, its aim goes beyond the communication of basic biochemical facts and concepts. Of equal importance is the link between basic principles and medical applications. To achieve this aim, we enhanced this edition with numerous clinical examples embedded in the chapters that illustrate the importance of biochemistry in medicine.
Although biochemistry advances at a faster rate than most other medical sciences, we did not match the increased volume of knowledge by an increased size of the book. The day has only 24 hours, the cerebral cortex has only 30 billion neurons, and students have to learn many other subjects in addition to biochemistry. Rather, we tried to be more selective and more concise. The book is still comprehensive in the sense that it covers most aspects of biochemistry that have significant medical applications. However, it is intended for dayto- day use by students. It is not a reference work for students, professors, or physicians. It does not contain “all a physician ever needs to know” about biochemistry. This is impossible to achieve because the rapidly expanding science requires new learning (and unlearning) of received wisdom on a continuous basis.
This book is evidently a compromise between the two conflicting demands of comprehensiveness and brevity. This compromise was possible because medical biochemistry is not a random cross-section of the general biochemistry that is taught in undergraduate courses and PhD programs. Biochemistry for the medical professions is “physiological” chemistry: the chemistry needed to understand the structure and functions of the body and their malfunction in disease. Therefore, we pay little attention to topics of abstract theoretical interest, such as three-dimensional protein structures and enzymatic reaction mechanisms, but we give thorough treatments of medically important topics such as lipoprotein metabolism, mutagenesis and genetic diseases, the molecular basis of cancer, nutritional disorders, and the hormonal regulation of metabolic pathways.
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