KE810: Bioinorganic Chemistry

Study Board of Science

Teaching language: Danish or English depending on the teacher, but English if international students are enrolled
EKA: N540014122, N540014102
Censorship: Second examiner, Second examiner: External
Grading: Pass/Fail, 7-point grading scale
Offered in: Odense
Offered in: Autumn
Level: Master's level course approved as PhD course

STADS ID (UVA): N540014101
ECTS value: 5

Date of Approval: 19-03-2020

Duration: 1 semester

Version: Approved - active


10012701  (former UVA) is identical with this course description. 

Entry requirements


Academic preconditions

Students taking the course are expected to have a basic knowledge of physical, inorganic and organic chemistry, the structures of simple (bio)organic molecules, the formulations of simple metal salts, pH and some of the techniques (magnetic, vibrational and optical spectrosocopies and X-ray diffraction used to carry out structure determination).

Typically chemistry students take this course, however the subject is interdisciplinary and students from biology to physics and pharmacy will potentially be interested. Individual projects and hence the requirement of previous knowledge can be tailored accordingly.

Course introduction

The aim of the course is to enable students to rationalize the essential roles of the “inorganic” elements in biology and the geobiosphere.

The course provides background for students interested in biochemistry, materials, medicinal inorganic chemistry, enzymatic catalysis, structural chemistry and biotechnology

The course builds on the knowledge acquired in KE525 or equivalent. However there is a large degree of flexibility in terms of content that can be tailored to specific interests.

In relation to the competence profile of the degree it is the explicit focus of the course to:

  • Give the competence to predict and understand the function of d-block (transition) metal ions in metalloenzymes and hence the chemical basis for healthy and disease states of living organisms, including humans.
  • Understand influence of biology on the cycling of the biologically important elements C, H, N, S, P etc
  • Use online resources like the Protein Data Bank and search, find and read primary literature

Expected learning outcome

The learning objective is that students acquire foundation knowledge of the biochemistry of selected and predominantly trace, elements.

The learning objectives of the course are that the student demonstrates the ability to:

  • Understand typical roles and chemistry of the elements, in particular the metal ions, essential for living systems, e.g. structural, recognition, sensor roles and redox and non-redox catalytic roles.
  • Rationalize the role of specific metal ions in metalloenzymes for catalyzing energetically and stereo- and enantio-selectively difficult reactions
  • Assess the viability of the reaction mechanisms proposed for the biological activation of the small molecules through and comparisons to known chemistry of the elements.
  • Describe basic principles in the use of optical, vibrational and magnetic resonance, Mössbauer spectroscopies, X-ray diffraction and fluorescence, electrochemical and other selected methods for the characterization of biomolecular compounds containing any element of the periodic system
  • Propose spectroscopic and other techniques appropriate for investigation of specific metalloenzymes.
  • Read and understand primary research articles and critically evaluate the interpretation of data from a variety of techniques.
  • Describe the interdependency of life forms and geology through the exchange of elements and chemicals and the impact of life on element cycling in the biosphere.
  • Explain the potential for treatment of human disease through the thorough understanding and manipulation of genetically and environmentally caused elemental imbalances.
  • Use free data bases in particular the Protein Data Bank for downloading crystal structure coordinates, analysing structure and preparing own diagrams


The following main topics are contained in the course:
  • The biological essential elements and their roles
  • Homeostasis
  • Genetic and environmental disease associated with elemental imbalance
  • The structures of common motifs in the active sites of metalloenzymes
  • Transport of O2
  • Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and their destruction
  • The activation of O2 by Fe, Cu and Mn enzymes for the selective oxidation reactions needed in the biosynthesis of amino acids, DNA, RNA, hormones etc.
  • The activation of H2O by Mo enzymes for selective oxidations
  • The nitrogen cycle
  • Metals as Lewis acids in the hydrolysis enzymes
  • Bioorganometallic chemistry
  • Reactions of small molecules CO, NO, H2, etc with metalloenzymes
  • The important cofactors in photosynthesis and hydrogenase enzymes and hence natures blue print for Artificial Photosynthesis
  • Metals in Medicine
  • Organic drugs and antibiotics as in vivo metal ion chelators
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Radioisotope imaging and therapy (including visit to OUH PET center)
  • Magnetic resonance Imaging (MRI )
  • Biomineralisation


Artikler der lægges på Elearn.
Wolfgang Kaim, Brigitte Schwederski, Axel Klein: Bioinorganic Chemistry - Inorganic Elements in the Chemistry of Life: An Introduction and Guide, 2nd Edition, ISBN: 978-0-470-97523-7. 

See itslearning for syllabus lists and additional literature references.

Examination regulations

Prerequisites for participating in the exam a)




Oral presentation and participation




Second examiner




Full name and SDU username


Normally, the same as teaching language

Examination aids

To be announced during the course.

ECTS value


Additional information

Presentation of individual project to the class and participation in the presentations of other studens by asking questions. 

The prerequisite examination is a prerequisite for participation in exam element a).

Exam element a)




Type Prerequisite name Prerequisite course
Examination part Prerequisites for participating in the exam a) N540014101, KE810: Bioinorganic Chemistry






Second examiner: External


7-point grading scale


Full name and SDU username


Normally, the same as teaching language

Examination aids

 None for the theory examination. No restrictions for the report.

ECTS value


Additional information

Portfolio consisting af theory examination (1½ hours) (50%) and report (50%).

The mode of exam at the reexamination may differ from the mode of exam at the ordinary exam.

Indicative number of lessons

42 hours per semester

Teaching Method

Activities during the study phase:
  • Reading the text book
  • Literature research for individual project

Teacher responsible

Name E-mail Department
Christine McKenzie Institut for Fysik, Kemi og Farmaci


08 - 09
09 - 10
10 - 11
11 - 12
12 - 13
Class f
13 - 14
Class f
14 - 15
Class h1e
15 - 16
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Administrative Unit

Fysik, kemi og Farmaci

Team at Registration & Legality


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