The Future is Genetics

I am not your typical geek but there is something about science, and particularly about genetics that excites me. I have always felt that Genetics is going to be big, and back at my first University it was unfortunately given almost nil importance. Understandably, because to make genetics exciting you need to be researching it and there is just not that amount of funding in Malta.

Here however, genetics is big and the buildings dedicated to Genetics even bigger. In Cardiff one of the top research fields is Psychiatric Genetics. Believe me, the stuff they discover on a day to day basis is enough to blow anyone away. The beautiful thing is the potential of this research. You can sense that in a couple of years this is not only going to be tangible, but clinically accessible.

Just to give you an idea of the brilliance of genetics here are things that happened this past week alone.

1. New technology can build mug shots from DNA. This means that DNA has just made forensics easier and justice that little bit fairer. Although this is far from accurate, Chinese researchers are getting closer to identifying over 20,000 different face features via genetics.

2. Yeast Chromosome.  The picture below (from nature.com) shows how scientists (some undergraduate students among them, imagine that!) have made up a completely synthetic yeast chromosome. The implications for this in the field of agriculture for starters are huge (unless you’re anti GMO) – we’re basically building a genome!

3. Down Syndrome changes. I proceed here with caution. Experiments on Mice (not humans) have reversed short-term memory loss by stimulating the cerebellum. This has huge implications for the way we consider how memory works in people with Down Syndrome. The fact that someone is researching this – an area people had always considered a mystery and ‘incurable’ is already a way forward – a positive one.

Until next time!

 

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The Rosie Project

I have not have much time to read lately, however this book has really grabbed my attention. It has helped me go back to my usual bed-time reading which I am being to re-discover is the perfect way to go to bed.

This book is charming in its simplicity and although perhaps predictable, you wouldn’t want it to end any other way. The process, rather than the ending is what is capturing. I fell in love with the main character immediately. He reminds me of Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, although I like Gene so much more. You just root for him to win at everything!

Although the main aim is to be light reading, it nudges the reading to how easily we judge people who don’t quite think the way we do. Having a boyfriend with a creative mind who sees things in patterns , I’ve come to admire that humans have different brain processes and this is a good thing.

The lobster recipe he uses on Tuesday has also prompted me to try to make lobster for the first time!

A good 5 stars from me!

Spring in the City

Spring has always been my favourite season, but I clearly had no idea how good it could get. Spring in Malta is beautiful simply because the humidity seems to become more bearable and the sun doesn’t hide behind clouds.

Spring here is another thing completely. It is the true definition of growth, re-birth and colour. The weather has not yet improved substantially but the surroundings more than make up for it! As I may have said previously, the weather hasn’t been as bad as I imagined it to be and now, all this colour makes it all the more bearable.

To make use of my camera, and my Sunday, I set off to Bute Park. I first discovered Bute Park with my parents three weeks ago and have been waiting for the sun to come out to enable me a re-visit! It was windy and cold but I hardly noticed my purple fingers in my enthusiasm to take photos. The skeletons of winter are blossoming and although it may be described as an allergen nightmare, I love seeing the small flowers and berries make their appearance.

Bute Park is found right next to the Castle, and there is a small cafe at the entrance known as Pettigrew teahouse. Apparently, their afternoon tea is amazing! Within the park are the Sophia gardens (which some people insist on calling ‘Sapphire Gardens’ , and the Blackfrairs Frairy (or where the Frairy originally stood! – you can see a small model in the pictures). They have a number of wood carvings and stone structures and all in all it is perfect for a walk, jog or simply sitting down with a book to read!

My favourite flower here in Cardiff is no doubt the daffodil. the daffodil, together with leeks, are the national symbols of Wales. I had no idea daffodils could come in different colours apart from yellow. The prettiest are the orange and yellow ones although the white and yellow give a beautiful contrast too!

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The number 22

The number 22 has followed me throughout my life. When I was merely 10, there was a raffle at the school, and my first choice was the number 1, not being very imaginative or creative. It was taken and so was the second choice, the number two. So rather than continuing down the sequential route, I opted to double my number to double 2. I won the raffle.

Important events and things in my life have been constantly associated to this number, coincidence or not. The first time I re-chose the number for the lottery I won 15 Maltese Pounds which was a lot to me in those pre- stipend, pre-working days. Another silly example of how the number has popped up throughout the years is in the T-shirt number of Diamante – the Italian player who scored in the semi-final in the last Euro cup!

I am now going out with a very special man, who designed a campaign for student rep elections which was held on the 22nd November 2011. After the election was over, and the votes were counted, we had our first date. We are still together, 3 years 3 months on. We celebrated our 22 months with 22 small gifts to each other.

Now 22 has entered my life again, in another life changing way. The condition that has immediately struck me since beginning this MSc. has been the 22q11 deletion syndrome, also known as VCFS. The fact that the deletion is found on chromosome 22 is only part of my attraction to the condition. Being variable in clinical presentation it is often ages before a diagnosis is made, causing anxiety and frustration in parents. This is what I want to focus my research in the next year and a half on.  I believe being interested is what will keep me motivated and going on, even when the name 22q11 gives me headaches! No doubt, the 22 charm will help too!

I can’t wait to let you know about my research proposal and to highlight the amazing University I am in, but I will wait until I get feedback first!

The picture is from morganwills.blogspot.com