Metals in Biology and Medicine


• Acquire knowledge about the role of metal ions in biological systems (including biological systems for the acquisition, transport and storage of metals, biosynthesis of major metal centers, metal toxicity, and biological detoxification mechanisms, and diseases associated with excess or deficiency of metals).

• Acquire knowledge about the applications of metal ions to biotechnology, biocatalysis, and environmental engineering.

• Acquire knowledge on the use of metal ions and their complexes in medicine: antimicrobials, anticancers, contrast agents, diagnosis.

• Integrate and apply multidisciplinary knowledge in spectroscopy, enzymatic kinetics, biochemistry, structural biology and bioinorganics.

• Develop the ability to communicate and discuss results with experts and non-specialists.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Carlos Lodeiro Espino, Sofia Rocha Pauleta


Weekly - 4

Total - 56

Teaching language



There are no requirements, but this curricular unit relies on previous knowledge of general concepts of Biochemistry and/or Chemistry.


Trace Element Medicine and Chelation Therapy, RSC David M. Taylor, David, R. Williams, 1995.

Medicinal Inorganic Chemistry, J. Sessler, S. Lippard, et al. ACS Symposium Series, 2005.

Essentials in Inorganic Chemistry. For students of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Medicinal Chemistry. Katja A. Stronhfeldt, Wiley, 2015.

Ligand Design in Medicinal Inorganic Chemistry, Tim Storr Editor, Wiley, 2014.

Metals in Medicine, Kames C. Dabrowiak, Inorganic Chemistry Wiley TextBook Series, Wiley, 2nd Ed. 2017.

Biological Inorganic Chemistry – Structure and reactivity. Ed. Bertini, Gray, Stiefel, Valentine. 2007. University Science Books, USA.

Metals in Medicine, J.C. Dabrowiak, 2009, Wiley.

Teaching method

Classroom teaching with theoretical classes, theoretical exercises, and seminars on clinical cases. Theoretical classes follow the defined program and are classes of voluntary attendance. Theoretical exercises and seminars are tutored classes, guided by a teacher, with compulsory attendance, designed to apply the concepts taught through the presentation and discussion of scientific articles. The seminars on practical cases are presented in groups of two students (20 min of oral presentation in English, followed by 10 min of discussion).

Evaluation method

The requirements to be approved are:
1) Continuous assessment

- Mandatory attendance of 2/3 of T and TP classes and to all seminars. (Frequência)

- Participation in class: 5%;

- Classification in the seminar (2 seminar) with average of 9.5 or more; with a weighting of 45% in the final classification; classification below 9.5 in this component does not confer frequency;

- 2 theoretical tests, arithmetic average with a weighting of 50% (9.5 or higher in the average of the two frequencies) (written exam).

2) Final exam
- Exam with the theoretical component, with a grade of 9.5 or higher; with a weighting of 55% in the final classification (written exam);

- Classification in the seminar (2 seminar) with average of 9.5 or more; with a weighting of 45% in the final classification;

At any time, the written evaluation can be substituted by an oral evaluation.

Subject matter

1 – Essentials in Inorganic Chemistry

2 – Metal Centers and its Biogenesis (in Biology and Humans)

3 – Metal Ion Assimilation

4 – Metal Ion Homeostasis

5 – Biological Function of Metal Centers

6 – “Applications” of Metals Ions

7 – Environmental-derived Health Problems – Zn, Cd, Hg and others

8 – Chemotherapy using Platinum and Ruthenium Drugs.

9 – Nobel metals as therapeutic agents (Au, Ag)

10 – Metal Complexes for other diseases. Diabetes and Vanadium drugs

11 – Essentials in Chelation Therapy


Programs where the course is taught: