Forty years ago, at the birth of gene-editing technology, 140 brilliant scientists from all over the world met at Asilomar to discuss its usage. Now that they could join pieces of DNA in artificial ways, what should they do with it? What are the experiments they need to answer relevant questions? And more importantly, are those experiments safe and responsible? After 3 long days of intense discussion, scientists showed the public that they could self-regulate and set a precedent for scientific regulation.
One of the greatest powers of research is harnessing symbiotic relationships among different fields, and biological research is no exception. With the growth of bioinformatics, a field dedicated to developing computational methods for biology, collecting extremely large datasets has become easier and more widespread. As a result, biochemical methods are increasingly informed by these datasets, and in turn, the complexity of biochemical systems provides an excellent source of material for bioinformatic analysis. Our group "Biochemistry and Bioinformatics in Society" is interested in exploring this interface between biochemistry and bioinformatics. Specifically, we will be sharing insights into the impact that discoveries from this interface have on various aspects of society, such as policy and healthcare/medicine.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and about a quarter of a million new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year. For many years previously, patients with breast cancer have been prescribed essentially the same blanket treatment for their cancer. However, “breast cancer” itself is not just one disease; patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer may have tumors that differ in many significant ways, including amount of aggression and sensitivity to drug treatments.
Genetic modification has allowed us to make better crops and food, yet the majority of the public is skeptical of the safety and quality of genetically modified food. Are these opinions founded, or can we mass dispel the myths surrounding these new efficient crops?
Before there were chickens or eggs, there were RNA molecules that gained the ability to duplicate themselves. How did these molecules manage to do this outside of cells on the early earth, and how did this lead to life as we know it?