Medical Science Educator

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 189–197 | Cite as

Reevaluating Biochemistry and Nutrition Education Through Opinions of Clinicians and Educators

  • Emily Hays
  • Jake Levine
  • Shruthi Rethi
  • Emily K. Smith
  • Sharmila Upadhya
  • Andrew K. SoberingEmail author
  • Tracey WeilerEmail author
Original Research


Biochemistry is a core component of medical education as it contributes to the fundamental basis and understanding of molecular mechanisms in pathophysiological processes. The convergence of nutritional factors also gives insight to many chronic diseases. Topics of nutrition are often incorporated into biochemistry coursework and must be integrated in a way that makes sense within the overall curriculum. An important issue raised by this structure is determining which topics are most important to a student’s understanding and what topics are most relevant to future clinical practice. Previous surveys show medical undergraduates feel that much of current medical biochemistry coursework lacks clinical relevance and pays too much attention to small details. Here we report the results of a survey that aims to determine the biochemical and nutritional topics that physicians and educators feel are most important to teach in medical school. This information is important for medical schools to better prepare their students for what they will see and apply in their future clinical practice. Physicians and medical educators were surveyed, asked demographic questions, and then requested to provide a prioritized list of the top 10 biochemistry and nutrition topics that they believed should be focused on in undergraduate medical education. Topics suggested by participants were normalized for spelling, acronyms, and abbreviations and given a weight from 10 to 1. A prioritized list was then created based on the suggested topics. This list provides insight into the topics that medical educators and physicians consider important to cover in undergraduate medical education.


Biochemistry Nutrition Undergraduate medical education Curriculum priorities 



We would like to thank ABE and IAMSE for allowing us to deliver the survey at their conferences. We would also like to thank our research participants for their time and thoughtful suggestions regarding the educational priorities in biochemistry and nutrition.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Oversight

This research was approved by the St. George’s University Institutional Review Board (SGU IRB no. 15059) and the Social and Behavioral Institutional Review Board of Florida International University (IRB Protocol Approval no. IRB-17-0111-CR01).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

40670_2018_652_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (339 kb)
Supplemental Fig. 1 Survey of Opinions Regarding Priorities of Biochemistry/Nutrition Topics for Medical Student Education. An example survey illustrating the content and formatting of the informed consent documentation and survey questions. (PDF 338 kb)
40670_2018_652_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (152 kb)
Supplemental Table 1 Individual Participant Responses, Broad Category, Narrow Category, Standard Topic. The raw data collected from the survey, with the associated broad and narrow categories and standard topic. Column identifiers are as follows: ID = participant number; Survey Site; Health Practitioner or Educator; Gender; Age; Region; Terminal Degree; Medical Specialty; Medical Education Role; Rank; Rank Weight; Suggested Topic = direct transcription of participant response; Broad Category; Narrow Category; Standard Topic. (XLSX 151 kb)
40670_2018_652_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (36 kb)
Supplemental Table 2 Categorization of Suggested Topics into Standard Topics. Summary of the categorization of all respondents suggested topics (directly transcribed from participant response) into standard topics. The broad and narrow categories for the standard topics are also listed. Those topics that encompassed more than one standard topic, were mapped directly to a narrow or broad category as appropriate. For example, the suggestions found in rows 88-92 do not have a standard topic, but rather map to the narrow category of “Fundamental Concepts”, and the broad category of “General Biochemistry”. Similarly, the suggestions found in rows 359-414 do not have a standard topic or a narrow category, and therefore map only to the broad category of “Intermediary Metabolism”. (XLSX 36 kb)
40670_2018_652_MOESM4_ESM.docx (21 kb)
Supplemental Table 3 Alphabetical List of Standard Topics. The complete list of standard topics generated in the study ordered alphabetically along with the sum of the rank weight, count, relative importance (RI) and the percentage of total RI for each topic. (DOCX 20 kb)
40670_2018_652_MOESM5_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplemental Table 4 Prioritized List of Standard Topics. The complete list of standard topics generated in the study, sorted in descending order of %RI along with the sum of the rank weight, count, relative importance (RI) and the percentage of total RI for each topic. (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Association of Medical Science Educators 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, Herbert Wertheim College of MedicineFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiochemistrySt. George’s UniversitySt. George’sGrenada

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