MCAT General Chemistry Review - Alexander Stone Macnow, MD 2019-2020

Chemical Kinetics

We began with a consideration of chemical reactions and the mechanisms that illustrate the individual steps necessary to transform reactants into products. We demonstrated the way to derive a reaction’s rate law through the analysis of experimental data, and we looked at the factors that can affect the rates of chemical reactions.

After such an overview, you should begin to appreciate that many chemical principles in the human body rely on the principles of chemical kinetics. Why does the body maintain a certain temperature? Primarily to stabilize the enzymes that catalyze the metabolic reactions necessary for life. Why does the body maintain a pH buffer? Altering the concentration of protons affects not only the ability of an enzyme to maintain its secondary, tertiary, and quaternary structure, but can also directly affect the collisions between reactants. You will begin to appreciate these and many other questions from a clinical perspective throughout your medical career. In the next chapter, we will investigate chemical equilibria, which—although related to kinetics—are distinct (and commonly confused!) topics.