Last semester's Genetics course taught us mainly two things. The first was that classical genetics pretty much does leave off where most of us think it does in A'Levels - the crosses get quite a bit more complicated and there's alot of detail, especially in relation to transcriptional events that is still relevant in current research. The second, however, was much more surprising. You know how everybody thinks that the genetic code is essentially a collection of four bases (A, T, G and C) put together in many different ways to create genes? Well, its not all that simple. DNA itself, helices and all, put together, can also be marked in numerous ways. It can be methylated (-CH₃group added), acetylated, phosphorylated and all sorts of other things. Many of these "tags" on the holistic DNA structure can affect whether genes are active or not, but further, this affects how proteins will interact with the DNA and/or gene products. This opens up a Pandora's box of regulations that can now affect how genes are switched on in Tissue A but not in Tissue B, or even in Person A but not in Person B. What IHEC is doing is trying to map the chemical modifications of DNA and decipher their roles in genes and heredity. At one point in the article (Time for the epigenome), it is claimed that "the project's most enthusiastic proponents refer to it as the hadron collider of biology". I was ecstatic when I first read this, but would feel happier if our epic-ness wasn't measured by Physics standards. Mehru, I am sure, will disagree.
The second article was about Obama's US$3.8 trillion budget request to Congress for funding for basic science research. This is absolutely brilliant all around, especially when compared to the Bush administration's all too obvious neglect of scientific research funding. If the request gets approved (has it been? I haven't heard of progress since I read this but I might be wrong), NASA's funding will increase by 1.5% to $19 billion (although, somebody should really give a telling off to that Nature writer who compared a percentage to a figure; that's not a real comparison, silly!).
We here, who organized P.A.T.H.S at the recent Psi-Fi 2010 have now increasingly begun to understand the importance of getting the money at the right time. Speaking of Psi-Fi, I feel I must, for bragging purposes, attach the maze which we provided in the sample pathway on the Facebook page before the event took place. It all worked out so well, as did all the events at Psi-Fi, and I for one am wholly open to bragging shamelessly for a year about just how well.
Finally, apologies for the big gap, but we have new writers and will try to post every 2 or 3 days from now onwards. Fingers crossed.