First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague Charles University in Prague

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Biochemistry and Pathobiochemistry

The objective of studies in the study programme of Biochemistry and pathobiochemistry is preparation of the student for autonomous scientific explanation of molecular principles of life processes in the human organism, their direction and molecular mechanisms of their disorders. 

Biochemistry and pathobiochemistry is concerned with the issues of biomacromolecules, i.e. proteins and enzymes, polysaccharides, lipoproteins and nucleic acids, as well as their component units and other important low molecular weight substances in living systems (amino acids, peptides, saccharides, lipids, steroids). The objective of the field is also explanation of their mutual changes and their role in cell signalling. Another very important sphere is the research into super-molecular cell structures and their function. The programme also focuses on the principles of disorders of the said structures and their functions, i.e. on the molecular nature of the origin, development and course of pathologic states. One important part of the study is the physiological and pathogenetic importance of reactive forms of oxygen and nitrogen; the subject of the study programme is mechanisms of action of the substances that damage the nucleic acids and biomembranes. In the study programme, attention is paid to research into disorders of cell signalling, including cancerogenesis and atherogenesis, molecular nature of hereditary and acquired metabolic disorders, mechanisms of maintenance of stable internal environment (metabolic and ionic balance) and the allied pathologic disturbances. The programme also deals with the development of new laboratory diagnostic methods.

Study obligations
1) After admission, compilation of an individualized curriculum (“study plan”), its acceptation by the Supervising Tutor and guarantor of the programme.
2) Passing at least two courses organized by the Field Board for Biochemistry and pathobiochemistry or the Co-ordinating Council of doctoral study programmes in biomedicine.
3) Language examination
4) State Doctoral Examination (recommended in the 1st to 2nd year of studies, conditions see below)

Requirements on creative activities
Being the first author of a publication, PI of a grant by Grant Agency of Charles University (GAUK) or similar.

Requirements on placements taken
At least one one-month or longer placement abroad recommended.

Other study obligations
Participation in national and international congresses.

State doctoral examination
Requisites for commencement of the examination:
1) Passing at least two courses organized by the Field Board for Biochemistry and pathobiochemistry or the Co-ordinating Council of doctoral study programmes in biomedicine.
2) Language examination in English. The Field Board recommends and internationally recognized type of examination (TOEFL, Cambridge), however study rules of particular faculties allow to take the language exam at the faculty’s institute of languages and admit recognition of the State Language Examination in English.
3) On principle, the State Doctoral Examination always takes place before submission and defence of the dissertation thesis.

Course:
The applicant shall present his/her topic in a 10–15 minutes long speech. The Board shall ask 4–6 questions. In a closed session, the Board shall evaluate the course of the examination and sets the mark. The result will be announced to the student. The members of the Board will sign the protocol of the examination.

Exam questions:

General biochemistry topic areas
- Relation of the structure of biomolecules to their properties and functions – proteins, nucleic acids, saccharides, lipids.
- Metabolism of saccharides and lipids in the aspect of biological energetics.
- Enzymes – mechanisms of action, kinetics, regulation of activity.
- Biological synthesis and decomposition of amino acids, their transformation to specialized biomolecules – porphyrins and bile pigments. Neurotransmitters, hormones.
- Biochemistry of transmission of genetic information (enzymology of nucleic acids).
- Proteosynthesis.
- Regulation of gene expression.
- Molecular principles of intracellular cell signalling.
- Molecular principles of intercellular communication.

Supramollecular biochemistry
- Structure of membranes and cell organelles
- Cytoskeleton
- Extracellular matrix
- Function of cell organelles (Golgi apparatus, endoplasmic reticulum, lysosomes, mitochondria, ribosomes)
- Membrane transport
- Cell cycle and its regulation, tumour cell proliferation
- Apoptosis

Examples of special topic areas (according to the doctorand’s bias)
Methodology:
- Isolation and purification of biomolecules
- Immunochemical methods
- Sequencing of proteins and nucleic acids
- Manipulation with nucleic acids, gene engineering
- Isolation of cells, cell cultures
- Spectrophotometry

Other questions considering the topic of the dissertation thesis – will be set by the examining board and Supervising Tutor.

Recommended literature:
A university textbook of medical biochemistry, e.g.
Harper’s illustrated biochemistry, by Murray R. K. et al.
Medical Biochemistry, by J. Baynes and M. Dominiczak
Molecular Biology of the Cell, by Bruce Alberts

Requisites for commencement of the defence
State Doctoral Examination; at least two original publications pertaining to the topic of the dissertation thesis, with the total impact factor at least one. In one of them, the applicant should be shown as the first author. Position of the first author shared with a collaborator is accepted if the total impact factor of the publication is at least 4.0.

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