We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.
– Carl Sagan
I am not a scientist nor have any exposure to the scientific research that is in progress in research centers. It was my maiden visit inside the heart of biological research centre in India. The centre is situated in the midst of a green campus in Bangalore…the Silicon Valley of India. I had heard a lot about the centre from scientific fraternity and its significance in the space of biological research in India, my expectations were sky high.
I had conjured an image of the campus based on their versions… state-of-the-art infrastructure, world-class laboratories, top-notch scientists, strong diversity of staff members and a much invigorating environment inviting the finest talents……as I entered I found that the campus was definitely different and I was not at all disappointed…in all fairness I was highly impressed. The glass building confronting the lush green lawn spread across the spectrum of the façade…one could see the reflection of green on the glass.
Yes, I had to admit that at the very moment there was a mesmerizing feeling subtly encumbering my thought. Life in the campus of biological research centre was full of life… the vibrancy was palpable with the stringently screened bright students, and also with the passionate professors converged from different parts of the world, to strive for excellence in scientific research in the field of biology.
As, I started interacting with the few scientists and staffs, they guided me and I moved around the architecturally designed campus layout, I could smell the science, it further reinforced that I am in fact in the midst of the scientific churning on “life” and its evolution. The research work in this centre was revolving around the cutting edge technologies and emerging frontiers in the field of biological science. It was technology that was providing the much needed impetus to the analysis and interpretation of research and experiments.
Biology for us is the basics what we have studied in schools, for few of us have little more knowledge who has chosen to take it in their higher education and for very few with better knowledge who have taken it as their choice of career. Though biology deals with the basic understanding of life, we generally take it for granted and biology of life for us has become mechanical. I was no different and it was these faded knowledge that I had acquired in school days was reluctantly surfacing on my mind.
And I was literally venturing into the den of research in biological science. The few things that I glanced on the corridors of campus on “Stem Cell”, “Regenerative Medicine” to “Brain Development”…was simply out of the realm of my comprehension. Initially I was very tentative and was frantically scouting for topics to converse with scientists… would it be silly to take up topic so basic that they would disconnect with me or would it exude brazenness on my part to randomly pick any science topic with no base to grasp. I forced freed myself from the inhibition juggernaut, and managed to garner adequate confidence to connect and converse with the best of scientific brains.
It was quite obvious, and naturally so, I did ask the question what are the various areas of scientific research being undertaken in this centre and how does it compare with the similar facilities in other parts of world; that’s it…rest followed, they are treasures of knowledge. Though all scientists are not alike, particularly so in conversations with lesser mortal like me. I was fortunate to meet someone who could step down to my level of understanding, and his narration was simple for me to appreciate their gargantuan nature of research works.
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, evolution, and taxonomy. Like others I did knew that biology recognizes the cell as the basic unit of life, genes as the basic unit of heredity, and evolution as the engine that propels the creation of new species. It is also implicit that all organisms survive by consuming energy, and by governing their internal environment to maintain a stable condition.
Biological science research is no more limited to the sphere of biology only, it has acquired multi-disciplinary in nature…encompassing chemistry to physics to mathematics to computers to informatics. Fields have overlapped and has merged to branch out into bio-chemistry to bio-physics to bio-informatics was spread across the campus…leading to a vital convergence of diverse areas of information, technology and science essential for research.
Life Science & Research
Today, modern biology is a vast field of research, composed of different branches and multiple disciplines. Biochemistry examines the simple chemistry of life; molecular biology studies the complex interactions among biological molecules; cellular biology examines the basic building-block of all life, the cell; evolutionary biology examines the processes that produce the diversity of life; and ecology examines how organisms interact in their environment.
I could collate that the scientists at the centre aim to understand biology at each of these levels to advance an integrated view of life processes, scientist here realize that success requires research problems to be approached from a variety of directions. Therefore, the campus has invited and encouraged researchers with a variety of backgrounds in the natural sciences, mathematics to computer science.
Research at this biological science centre adopted experimental and computational approaches to the study of molecules, cells and organisms. It deals with all levels of biology: cell biology, development of animals and plants, brain research, behavior, ecology and theoretical biology. Butterflies were aplenty in the plants…are caught using the butterfly net, just not flies. The campus also houses an animal house with mice to rats to frogs for scientists to use their lab knife and see on their nano-microscopes.
I discovered that the most innovative aspect of the team is their diverse background and deep expertise from mouse genetics to organogenesis to electron flow in biology. The inspirational drive behind the team working together on months and years on areas of research is to be at the cutting edge of scientific and technology revolution. There are niche space provided for each individual to conduct their own set of experiments, and at the same time there are enough space for them to explore collaboratively with seemingly different scientific and technological interests…creating opportunity to exponentially increase the probability of breakthrough innovation in science and technology.
I ended the day with the feeling that at the end these are the scientific students, research fellows, and post-doctoral fellows are the real strength of the research centre. After all they stimulate the environment and keep everybody engaged with laboratory experiments and lecture courses, seminars to symposia, with speakers, and participants coming from all over the world.
Today with rapid changing lifestyle, human biology is also undergoing genetics changes; hence there is an increase need for research in the sphere of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine…lifestyle diseases are catching up fast and furious. It embarks on science and scientific fraternity at the biological science centre to break the mysterious disease patterns and develop medicine using science & technology to defeat the destruction of cells by lifestyle diseases.
I came out with conviction that our future is indeed, in the safe hands of our great scientists working tirelessly on scientific innovations for betterment of life in different research centres spread across the globe.