Sunday, May 15, 2011

The grand picture of molecular life science

Drawing to almost half of my third year of university studies, in one semester of my third year, I have covered so many things. Contents were fleshed out in great, intricate details.

My lecturers are from Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at University of Melbourne. Each time, during a lecture, they always have interesting story to tell about what's happening inside cells. Every time when I'm asked on what I'm doing, saying biochemistry to be specific, sounds like something so advanced. The truth is, studying biochemistry in the 21st century is like playing LEGO at the molecular level and involve lots of storytelling about molecular processes.

How to excel in studies? I can't emphasise more and more that you must show an interest in the subject matter, be it academic, artistic or professional. The next thing is to actually understand what you are studying and not simply blind memorisation. With the understanding in a few topics that make up the whole subject, comes appreciation - the big picture, knowing that topics do not exist in isolation but instead connected to each other.

When you can finally appreciate the contents in a subject, you have achieved the learning outcome.

Only upon arrival at third year of university studies, I begin to realise that biochemistry and molecular biology is a grand masterpiece of painting. "Biochemistry and molecular biology" is for the naming sake; in actual fact, the picture consists of parts from the molecular to cellular level, hence it is really "biochemistry, molecular and cell biology". To gain an even greater appreciation, I need to know physiology - how things work in living things at the systemic level - but I admit I'm deficient in it beyond uni first year level.

What subjects am I taking? I shall name them and give you a brief description:

Functional Genomics and Bioinformatics: Study of gene expression (transcription and translation) in great detail, regulation of gene expression and experimental approach to extract information encoded in genes.

Molecular Aspects of Cell Biology: Taking things beyond the DNA level to look at the happenings inside and outside the cell. Proteins are made, but it's the work that proteins do that make the cell comes alive. Each have their role to play to make the cell happening. Also some experimental techniques to see what's happening in cells.

Advanced Techniques in Molecular Science: How to work in a biochemistry/molecular biology lab using your hands. A lab based subject.

Biotechnology in Practice: The business of biotechnology.

Functional Genomics and Molecular Aspects, from the way I see it, actually forms a big picture that you can't really separate from one another into subjects. What's more, both subjects are taught by the same people and use the same lecture theatres - until I can't really tell which subject I'm attending!

I can't stress more on the importance of the lab subject because it's from the lab techniques I learnt, that's how discoveries are made. The methods are always at disposal but it's just how to use them for a purpose.

Semester is drawing to an end, so it's time to go for Gold!

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