Project Update #1

I’ve been back in Cambridge for four days and have already met and talked to at least four different people involved in supervising and assisting with my master’s thesis project.

Luckily, this means that I now have a somewhat clearer idea of what I’ll be doing to begin with. In essence, I think, the whole project – my project is a sub-project of the PhD student’s project in Jasmin’s lab – is an admirable undertaking. The general plan is to recreate gene and protein regulatory networks (focussing on major players in cancer) in silico by sifting through the vast amounts of published data. This should yield a simplified but useful model, which can subsequently be tested by inputting experimental data that was not used to build the model. If this works then the model can be asked to predict new outcomes when parameters are changed. Any interesting results from these simulations can then be tested in the lab, but currently that is still quite far in the future.

To begin with I will be doing a lot of literature review and model building, the prospect of which is actually very exciting because I enjoy reading papers and trying to organise data into more accessible (graphical) models.

P.S.: While I wrote this short entry the 2014 Nobel prize in Chemistry was announced. The winners are Eric Betzig, Stefan Hell and William Moerner “for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy”. This means that a) both the Physics and Chemistry prizes this year were awarded for very practical, technological advances, which incidentally are both to do with visible light, and b) the Chemistry prize was once again very biological. Clearly I’m not complaining and I agree with the committee’s announcement this morning, “Biology has turned to chemistry. Chemistry has turned into biology.”

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