I used this book Pelley 3ed and Champe 4ed as fundamental preparation for Step1, which I recently passed (Jan 2012). I feel that the foundation provided by the Bchm review allowed me to proceed through the other topic areas without always having that nagging feeling as to what was being talked about when a reference to Bchm was made in the discussion.
I spent about 15 intense days of review in both books. I augmented the book reviews with about 20 Bchm questions from USMLE World every other evening or so. World has about 200+ questions classed as Bchm.
Neither the Champe or Pelley/Goljan texts are complete. Also I must say that the absolutely the best reviews and explanations came from USMLE World during their answer explanations. Go figure ...
As an example consider the topic, metabolism. Champe covers the standard information in 5 or 6 chapters. Very basic clinical correlations are included and go into sufficient Bchm detail to be of value in understanding the issue. Also more complex Bchm processes specific to the particular metabolic process being discussed are introduced (ie, signal transduction) are introduced and explained in glucose metabolism. This can be helpful or distracting depending on your background.
Champe's last chapters on metabolism cover nitrogen/protein metabolism. And at least to me never really finish an adequate overview on aspects on protein metabolism, particularly on integration with other macronutrients. Champe includes a chapter on insulin and glucagon, as well as a chapter on integration of glucose, lipid and nitrogen metabolism as a whole. The integration chapter is probably the most incomplete and I had to go constantly to Wikipedia for even "general details" particularly regarding the influence of protein metabolism ... glucose and fats seem the easiest to discuss in integration, Aspects of protein metabolism with respect to overall integration are less understood, or more controversial I guess. Nonetheless, little was addressed in Champe. I was surprised at how the basics were not included. I must say over that Champe's chapter on vitamins particularly their application in bchm processes was exceptional given the level of the book. Unfortunately there was not a corresponding chapter on minerals or micronutrients. Champe does a good job on nucleotide metabolism and gene expression. Overall, Champe's coverage although not complete provides a sound fundamental "review" of metabolism and gene expression for medical students. And particularly for those needing to understand a basic definition or a basic process in detail. The amino acid and enzymes basics at the front of the text were also well done and a useful review. The examples globular proteins/hemoglobin and fibrous proteins/collagen are well done; however, the cell bio aspect of collagen processing are not in depth enough to answer other than the simplest Step1 questions on this topic.
Onto Pelley/Goljan ...
First, this book cannot be compared to Goljan RR Pathology. It fails for coverage, clarity of writing and diagrams, and for completeness. Here I mean completeness to be a measure of the finished product, and not the extend of the material covered. There are several diagrams accompanying the text used to illustrate explanations that have numbered steps but have no reference to the numbering system used when discussed in the narrative. This appears to be in the chapters toward the end of the book ... nucleotide and gene expression. In the earlier chapters, this is not the case. Consider the glycolysis explanation has a full page diagram with numbered steps and the text explanation actually is paragraphs referenced to the diagram numbers. In the nucleotide chapters many of the illustrations used come from from another of Palley's Bchm texts, and at least to me are never completely integrated into this text. There is no mention to the illustration numbering in the text discussing these diagrams. Overall, I must say in Pelley many of the important diagrams are somewhat confusing, and I finally used diagrams I found on Wikipedia or from Champe ... examples would be: glycolysis vs. gluconeogensis and particularly the integration of these with the HMP shunt, TCA cycle, and amino acid processing. Pelley really suffers on overall integration of aspect of metabolism and the actual chapter on integration is weak in explanation and includes with many impressive (at least at first glance) but actually uninformative (space-filling?) half-page diagrams. The only strengths this book brings is it provides greater clinical correlation than that of Champe's text. The side margin notes are here like in RR Pathology are here but seem incomplete, often not well placed (ie, text will break to nest page but margin notes remain of previous page. The other thing is that the clinical correlations just seem to be dumped into the text bchm narrative rather than integrated into the text. This seems particularly true of the various storage/degradation-related diseases. Champe actually does a better job on a basic presentation of each of these groups of diseases. This brothers me in that this is the 3rd edition of the book and at least to me still seems to be only 75% finished ... again not with respect to material covered but to actual writing and layout of the book. To its credit, the Pelley books includes in a few pages a very useful review of basic medical genetics.
Overall I was impressed on first opening the Pelley/Gojan book but became more and more disappointed as I went on to actually study it. I can not say the same thing about the Champe text. The "cheesie" things (mostly cosmetics regarding the Lippicott layout) I first noticed in Champe remain so, but I did grow to appreciate Champe well written narrative and completeness of the presentation. I feel medical education suffers for her recent death. It is rumored that she was developing a text on physiology for LWW/LIR series ... I am disappointed that now it will not be published.
In finishing, an example on completeness and depth of materiel covered for both books ...
The general introductory explanations USMLEWorld provided to support their answer to a particular question often had a better and more informative and concise overview of the topic than that provided by Champe and more so Pelly ... in the actual explanation to the answer of a question. Often the USMLEWorld explanation was detailed and comprehensive, sometimes not ... and I am talking about the overview leading into the specifics for the questions answer. There is a concise discussion of receptor tyrosine kinases and tyrosine kinase-associated receptors that easily tops the little provided in Pelley or Champe. Also the USMLEWorld discussion of collagen synthesis comes to mind. ... Go figure ... and I recall 3 questions on my actual Step1 exam regarding collagen synthesis and a simple question on the JAK-STAT pathway.
Cross-posted with review LIR Biochemistry by Champe.