10587 - Bioinorganic Chemistry

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student will recognize the chemical principles underlying the biological chemistry of the elements, single out the main uptake, transport and regulation processes concerning metals and the way they can be exploited for applications. In addition, he will recognize the biological function of a metal and relate it to the structural properties of the macromolecule where it is inserted,

Course contents

Principles of coordination chemistry are a prerequisite of the course

Course content:

  • Chemical features and biological functions of elements binding to biomolecules.
  • Choice, uptake and transfer of metals, ion channels and pumps, delivery and insertion of metals into their final biomolecular sites.
  • Biomineralization processes.
  • Specific functions performed by metalloproteins.
  • Metals and nucleic acids interactions. Metalloproteins and nucleic acids interactions.
  • Detoxification processes.
  • Metals in medicine.


Classroom notes are neede; teaching material is made available in the IOL platform.

For details:

Frausto da Silva, Williams -The biological chemistry of the elements, Oxford

W.Kaim, B.Schwederski, A. Klein - Bioinorganic chemistry: inorganic chemistry in the chemistry of life, Wiley II edition

R. Roat-Malone - Bioinorganic Chemistry, Wiley II edition


Teaching methods

Classroom lectures will cover the main aspects of bioinorganic chemistry. After the general subjects, one or more detailed examples based on the most recent literature will be discussed in order to provide the students with examples and ideas for possible applicatons. For this reason, attending lessons is strongly advised and will be taken into account in the final evaluation.

Assessment methods

Learning assessment will be based on an oral PowerPoint presentation of a subject chosen by the candidate, between the ones explained during lessons. In addition, a couple of questions concerning the remaining subjects will be asked.

Both parts must be answered correctly in order to pass the exam.


Teaching tools

Most recent articles on the main subjects explained can be discussed together.

Videoprojector and PC.

Office hours

See the website of Piera Sabatino