Gen Z’s take on Genomics

Is it not remarkable to know that all of us carry a part of our ancestors within each cell of our bodies even after they no longer exist? How is this possible? Through a complex molecule called deoxyribonucleic acid, otherwise known as DNA.

The function of this molecule not only determines our physical appearance, but also controls the growth and reproduction of almost all  living organisms. Evidently, the fascination over genomics is not only limited to academia. The general public has also enthusiastically embraced this revolution in our understanding of DNA.

On July 4, Dr. Song Beng Kah and A/Prof. Qasim Ayub quickly bonded with the students of Kuen Cheng High School and shared their passion for the subject. In the genomics workshop, Dr Song got up close with the students in a dialogue session whereby they had the chance to exchange their perceptions about the subject. After the students were familiar with genomes and genetics, they engaged themselves in a heated Genome Assembly competition using DNA props provided by Dr. Song.

Not forgetting that genomics is closely tied with bioinformatics, A/Prof Qasim introduced the students to some computational methods and software tools used for understanding biological data. In another hands-onworkshop, he taught them how to use publically available online tools to compare DNA sequences and also briefly outlined the ways one can analyze the genetic makeup of an individual or species. The students aligned human mitochondrial DNA sequences and made a phylogenetic tree to understand their genetic relationships.