Why I Study Genetics: Age 22

I’m not under any illusions that the reason I do what I do will change as I get older and the way I interact with the world alters.

Right now, the reason I study genetics is simplicity.

I am in the field of clinical genetics, which means I ams dedicated to knowing and learning about different diseases. The ones I’m looking at right now are awful, genetic disorders that strike suddenly and kill young, diseases that we can’t really predict (“clinical heterogeneity”) or easily find the cause for (“genetic heterogeneity”).

Reading all about liver failure and nerve death and sudden respiratory failure, it eases my heart a bit to be able to think that the key to all of that will be found in an impersonal sequence of letters. That underpinning all this sadness and all these unfortunate families is something simple.

People are messy. Cells are messy. A lot of the time, genetics is messy. But when you come down to it, it’s just sequences of letters, and things that go wrong are really just typos, and typos can be fixed.

I study genetics because it calms me to know the world is simple on some level. Simple things are easy to make better.


One thought on “Why I Study Genetics: Age 22

  1. I read interesting thing yesterday about that exact point, the simplicity one that is.

    It went something like, if you gave an alien race a text file with sequence of letters that make up DNA, no amount of experiment or investigation would be able to reveal the message of life coded within the bases.

    But that it could be conceived that if you gave DNA, in biological format to an alien race. Over the course of millions of experiments and many alien nobel prizes, you could elucidate it’s function.

    I think the point was that the message is there to be decoded and presumably fixed if typos are made. But that it also isn’t that simple, it is not just information but has some important physical structure, and that is also important. Although I agree, in the desert of complexity, DNA is the oasis we need.

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