Starting With Basics
The fungus Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a model species used by biologists to study protein synthesis, cell division and gene expression in eukaryotes. Its complete genome was sequenced in 1996.
How Does This Work?
Many biological processes take place out of sight or more precisely on a scale that humans can't see. With processes of this nature, it is easy to overlook the details in favor of the larger story. This is natural for human. We are simply more comfortable dealing with the world we can see, touch and smell rather than the world beyond our senses. However, for scientists, the details matter and they are not easy to come by. Take cell division, for example. We can see cells divide with microscopes, but we can't see the proteins synthesize or when or why they are synthesized in the process. Scientists must move into the world of the unseen and use sophisticated techniques to gain clues they can then put together to figure out what is happening. Fortunately, there are scientists who are gifted in dealing with the world of the unseen. Nobel prize winner Sir Paul Nurse, Head of the Royal Society, is one such scientist.
Use the resources below to answer the following questions:
- Do you think Sir Nurse's work on cell division is basic or applied research? Explain your answer fully.
- What defines the cell cycle? What aspects of the cell cycle is Sir Nurse's lab focusing on?
- How may Sir Nurse's work lead to treatments for cancer?
- How does work like Sir Nurse's benefit the work of other scientists? How do you think scientific progress would be affected if people were not conducting research of this nature?
- How did the Human Genome Project (HGP) set the stage for deeper scientific research? What kind of information did the HGP provide? Why is this information crucial to understanding Homo sapiens?
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