?by Syed Mohsin Raza Bokhari
While observing the radiant flowers in your backyard, birds soaring high in the sky, colorful fish swimming in the aquarium in your home, your dog wagging its tail or the ants working hard to collect their food, have you ever wondered what one thing they all have in common that stores all the information about them? That one tiny piece that is hidden inside them responsible for their physical appearances, activities going on inside them, their natural instincts, their colors and their behaviors? While you walk down the street, you see many other people but no one is exactly the same. Even though they all are human beings, all have their own characteristic physical appearance. Where does this versatility come from? How are we different from others? What makes us different in size and shape but also connects us all? What is that “thing” which is responsible for the individual identity and all the diversity of living organisms on this planet? If you think about these questions, then get ready to be a part of a journey about what we call: The De-oxy ribonucleic Acid, or in short, “The DNA”.
As a Molecular Biologist, I can say one thing for sure: Our knowledge about DNA is constantly increasing and learning about it means taking a fantastic journey into the most fundamental components nature is made up of. Feeling the need to provide you all with a well informative experience, in April 2014, iversity will launch an exquisite MOOC named “DNA – from structure to therapy”. This course focuses on all the fundamental concepts about DNA: with topics ranging from the history and discovery of DNA, to its structure and detail regarding the central dogma, i.e. replication, transcription and translation of the DNA. This MOOC also highlights the patterns of diseases, such as cancer, that can result from the defect in any of the process of central dogma.
The DNA of watching CSI
While talking about DNA, many of you will be certainly looking forward to learning some stuff about various crime scene investigations and forensic studies that you see in various TV drama series and movies. This MOOC provides a perfect recipe by adding sneak peek into the techniques which are being used all over the globe for basic analysis of DNA. So for those students who are really into watching crime scene investigations, this course will shed light on how this DNA is used in crime scene investigations or forensics studies. Interestingly, there is also a lot of stuff about many other techniques, including those that students can apply to other various important professions like analysis of food, diagnosing a genetic disorder and modern medicine based on DNA, aka “Gene Therapy”.
Interact with your fellow iversitarians around you!
As an ambassador for iversity, I recommend that alongside studying the course material attentively – which you should definitely do while you take this course or any other MOOC – you should arrange iversity Meetups with your fellows around you, so you can all gather round and share your experiences about the things you have learned in the course material.
In these Meetups you will surely find students related to field of biology, teachers and even young scientists working in their respective departments. Discussing your thoughts and points of view about the course material will enhance your concepts about DNA. Those who are not from a field related to DNA can also learn how fellow biologists are actually working. So do meet with them and I can assure you this MOOC will then be much more fruitful for you than you could even imagine. Also, what if you have a person around you who actually works as a forensic scientist? To have a meetup with him/her will certainly satisfy the curiosity of CSI lovers. I would say all in all that this MOOC is the best package to learn about the fundamentals of DNA and iversity is playing a worthy part in providing you the chance to learn, discover, interact, connect, share, improvise and excel. Be a part of this thrilling experience … I fully assure you that … you will love it!!!