Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Genomics (cod. 9211)

Learning outcomes

The successful student is provided with fundamentals and approaches to the holistic study of the physiology and of the metabolic pathways of cellular systems. The student is familiar with the dynamic metabolic complexity of cells, tissues and organisms, and able to integrate this information with genomic, proteomic and interactome data in order to infer cellular responses to particular stresses or growth conditions and distinguish between pathological and physiological states.

Course contents

  • Introduction to metabolomics: definition and significance in system biology.
  • The chemical components of the cells: the structural diversity and number of metabolites in biological systems.
  • Chemical reactions in cells: free energy and activation energy, coupled reactions, the enymes, how enzymes work, specificity, kinetics of enzymes, regulation of enzymatic activity.
  • Metabolism an overview: cell metabolism is organized in pathways, the key molecules in metabolism (ATP, NADH, NADPH, Acetyl CoA).
  • Carbohydrate metabolism: the molecular structure and behaviour of carbohydrates. Glycolysis, citric acid cycle, gluconeogenesis, glycogen degradation and biosynthesis, pentose phosphate pathway.
  • Oxidative phosphorylation
  • Lipid metabolism: utilization of triacylglycerols in animals, fatty acid oxidation, fatty acid biosynthesis, metabolism of phospholipids containing glycerol, metabolism of sphingolipids, metabolism of cholesterol.
  • Metabolism of amino acids: nitrogen cycle and metabolism of nitrogen, biogenesis of organic nitrogen, amino acids biosynthesis and degradation, the transamination reactions, the urea cycle.
  • Nucleotide metabolism: biosynthesis of purine and pyrimidine (de novo and savage pathways), degradation of purine and pyrimidine.
  • How cells capture energy from sunlight: photosynthesis and Calvin cycle.
  • Workflow of a metabolomic study
  • Collection and preparation of samples for metabolomics: quenching, release of intracellular metabolites, metabolites in extracellular medium.
  • Analytical methodologies: chromatographyc systems, mass spectrometry, NMR spectrometry.
  • Data analysis
  • Fluxomics
  • Application of metabolomics: examples of clinical and food metabolomics.


Metabolomics: From Fundamentals to Clinical Applications [], Editors: Sussulini, Alessandra (Ed.), 2017, Springer, ISBN 978-3-319-47655-1

Principles of Biochemistry: International Edition
David L. Nelson, Michael Cox

Donald Voet, Judith G. Voet

Jeremy M. Berg, Lubert Stryer, John L. Tymoczko, Gregory J. Gatto

Teaching methods

Lectures with black/white-board and multimedia presentations.

The course will be held in class unless new univeristy rules and includes lectures, classroom group work and activities on the Moodle platform.

Experts for specific topics such as NMR, mass spectrometry and data analysis in metabolomics will be invited for dedicated lectures.

Assessment methods

The exam will be written or oral at the student’s choice.

The final grade will be an average of at least 5 questions that will touch on the topics covered in the program, the ability to link and integrate the various topics will be evaluated and special attention is required to the scientific terminology used and the correct exposure, fluent and accurate.

Three questions will cover metabolic pathways, the main reactions and their regulation as well as how they are interconnected with the rest of the cellular metabolism

Two questions will concern the techniques used in metabolomics, methods of sample preparation, methods of analysis of results.

Students who need aids during the oral test should contact the teacher to agree on the method of the test.

Students who need aids during the written or oral exam must contact the teacher to agree on the method of conducting the test.

Teaching tools

Registered students can download lesson presentations, articles and other teaching materials through the website


Students are encouraged to communicate to the teacher any requirements by e-mail as soon as possible. This will allow teacher to evaluate which teaching support tools are most adequate to make the training course accessible to all students of the course.

Office hours

See the website of Anna Maria Ghelli


Quality education

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.