“If you prefer an academic life as a retreat from reality, do notgo into biology. This field is for a man and a woman who wishes to get evencloser to life”-Hermann MullerBiology was the first subject that actually got a 10 year old’s fascinationwhen she first learnt about the science behind heart attack. Heart attack hadbeen in my family’s medical history, and that day I decided to look for a cure.However, small and insignificant this episode may seem but this was enough toignite in my mind the curiosity of the intricacies of human body. Little did Iknow that one class lecture would throw me into this enthralling and mystifyingworld of biological sciences.All through school with every class, I was onlypersuaded to delve deep into the subject. This insatiable thirst for the subject propelled me to go for aBachelors in Science in one of the biological subjects. The choice of coursewasn’t difficult to make.
Francis Crick was right when he said that it was themolecule that has the glamour, not the scientist. The study of moleculessustaining life had to be the key to get to the core of the subject and unravelbiology in a different way altogether.Through long, the double helicalstructure held together by specific pairing between the bases on two strandsbecame one of the iconic images of science. However, it was only later in ourmolecular biology lectures that I realized that this molecule is a lot moresophisticated than it looks.
Getting to truly understand the centraldogma of biology was not merely about learning facts but how each fact lurkedthe fascinating detective story of its discovery. Complexity of mechanisms ofreplication, transcription, translation presented a particularly compelling dramaand one only gets filled with plenty of remaining mysteries. Undergraduateprogram was a new avenue where I got exposed to various fields of study. It wasgratifying to finally be able to get at the core of the mere facts that we werepresented with at the school. Moreover, it was exhilarating to be able to putknowledge gained so far into practical use through various research projects. I’ve been involved in anInnovation Project titled, ‘NetworkAnalysis in systems biology of neurological disorders’ for a year now.The project aimed to take a holistic approach to polygenic disorders.
Under this project I worked on Alzheimer’sdisease. As Alzheimer’s is a polygenic disorder, network analysis approach wasfollowed. Networks help identify various disease proteins, pathways and functionalmodules in Alzheimer’s and thus play a crucial role in drug development. However, it was the summer of 2017that actually provided me an insight into a researcher’s life. I had gotthrough Indian Academy of Sciences, a summer research fellowship at Centre forDNA and Diagnostics, Hyderabad, India. I was in the Diagnostics Division andthe lab was involved in diagnosis and research of various genetic disorders.Theproject that I was supposed to work on was “Molecular and Insilco analysis ofpatients with canavan disease (CD)”. Aim of the project was to characterize known and novel mutations inpatients with CD which is important for better diagnosis of carriers andaccurate prenatal diagnosis.
In addition to this main project, I worked onanother side project that was aimed at functional analysis of a splice sitemutation in BUB1 gene.Through these projects I learnt themolecular techniques used in genome analysis which I was not able to be exposedat the college level. I got a hand at techniques like genomic DNA isolation,Primer designing for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), gel ectrophoresis, SangerSequencing, sequence analysis on various sequence analysis softwares,polymorphism softwares, pathogenicityprediction softwares, mutation prediction softwares, structural analysis onPyMol, tissue culture of cos 7 cell lines, transformation, RT-PCR, etc.
Thistwo months experience at one of the country’s leading research institute wasextremely fruitful and equipped me with practical knowledge and experiencerequired by a science student. It also gave me the opportunity to attendlectures by eminent scientists. Moreover, it also provided me with a platformto present my work at the TIFR Summer Symposium in Hyderabad, along with othersummer research fellows from the country. All in all, this life timeopportunity allowed me to look beyond our textbooks and made me familiar withthe kind of research going in the country.The motivation to go for a course like Biochemistry and molecularbiology comes from the fact that these two courses together have grown toencompass virtually the entire spectrum of science from physics and chemistryto biology and medicine. I feel, this field would allow me to study life onevery level from individual molecules to the interrelated webs of earth’sorganisms.
The contribution of molecular biology and biochemistry to thescientific revolution has been immense. From production of vast amount of raredrugs and vaccines, tracing evolution, creating instanttest for a host of illness, to identification of criminals. Therefore, I feelthis is one of the most challenging and potentially rewarding fields. Themasters program of molecular biology and biochemistry at University of Bremen offersthrough their each module a wide array of interdisciplinary subjects that wouldtrain me thoroughly to go for a Phd in molecular biology and finally enable meto get into the field of drug and vaccine development hence allow me towork for improvement of existing tools for diagnosis and detection of diseases.
With its research excellence and interdisciplinary profile, I believeUniversity of Bremen would prove to be a quintessential place of study and aidme to grow both scientifically and culturally.