:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 02-09-2011
I often find it difficult explaining to friends and family exactly what I do in the lab. In fact, before I started my graduate work, concepts such as DNA, protein, electrophoresis and gene transfer all seemed to esoteric and foreign. That’s why, whenever I come across an article or video that helps clarify our field of work to the layman, I am inclined to share.
In honor of the 10 year anniversary of the sequencing of the human genome, Joe Kloc of Mother Jones has put together a simple yet elegant explanation of epigenetics.
Check it out by clicking on The Illustrated Guide to Epigenetics.
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 09-12-2010
Here’s an inspirational story that played on CBS describing how epigenetic therapy rescued firefighter Jerry Morton from the deathly clutches of lung cancer. Epigenetics involves changes in gene expression without an associated change in the underlying DNA sequence. Examples of epigenetic processes include: bookmarking, gene silencing and X chromosome inactivation. Many cancer treatments fail because while trying to kill cancer cells, the treatment destroys many healthy cells as well. According to the CBS report “in epigenetic therapy, instead of actually trying to kill the cancer cells, they try to change their behavior so they don’t act like cancer.”
Stories such as these should provide us with the inspiration we need to continue slaving away in the lab day in and day out. As molecular biologists we are the key to the future of medicine. I once read an interview of a senior investigator at a prominent university who said that he would rather be a scientist than a medical doctor. In his words, “while doctors are members of the orchestra, scientists are the conductors.”