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The Role of Scientists In Our Daily Lives

We all live in a culture, where people want to become a doctor, an engineer, businessman or a lawyer. The reason for choosing such occupation is to get profitable amount of money, to sustain family’s need. Not all people think the same. Some of us are inspired by the role of biologists, physicist and many other scientists, working to solve citizens’ problem. But there is a constant pressure to move from our passion to our family’s decision and this makes us frustated. It’s not to fight against them, but rather, to convince them about what would it like to be a scientist.


This article is just a short message to our parents: what have scientists contributed to save us?


Think about what would it be like to live without innovations like medication, prosthetic arms and knees and lots of others. If we depend our lives with alternative medications, maybe, we would not be so sure about such treatment. Despite of side effects of medication, we are at least sure that it can help us to recover. If we are afraid of medication, fine, tell the physician about symptoms, and he or she would recommend for a test, to see the potent adverse effects of such treatment. In fact, a physician would first recommend us for a test, to diagnose the cause of our illness. At least, it brings doctor confidence to come to a conclusion after analyzing reports and treat by specific medications. What would it be like, if there were no diagnostic tools to identify illness. Furthermore, the automated machines increases the precision of clinical data, to correctly identify diseases. As we all know about the widespread of Hepatitis C, within our population, but how to diagnose it is the real question. Well, no worries, because we are having PCR (Polymerase Chain reaction) to identify, not just the presence of virus, but also, the quantity of viral strains and types of strains. During 1980’s, a famous scientist, Kary Mullis, has created this method, during his motorcycle ride to his home. He was working on DNA replication, to study this process and who knows, he created PCR.


Well, it is related to medicine, isn’t it better to become doctor? Okay, now think from another perception, we drink milk and use to make many desserts, such as, cakes, Ras malai, ice creams and of course, rabri. Think of ways how to eliminate pathogens, like Listeria monocytogenes, and preserve nutritional values of milk. Boiling at home is an uncontrolled procedure. If all the pathogens are eliminated, so does the nutrition. About few centuries before, Louise Pasteur has derived a process, called ‘Pasteurization’. It’s a controlled process, in which food (in this case, milk) is heated at high temperature for a specific time period (it depends on the composition of food). This just not eliminates food borne pathogens, but also, doesn’t affect the nutritional value.


Majority of us know of how DNA is discovered, right? Yes, they are James Watson (currently, working as a president of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) and Francis Crick, two famous biologists. With the help of Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, they got data for analysis. The data was processed from X-ray Crystallography and analysed. It was determined to be a double helix (See the picture). Without the biochemical information, there would be no PCR, to diagnose viral infections. We wouldn’t know how cancer progresses, how to diagnose genes of biomarkers. And especially, we wouldn’t heard of George Church, who emerged a new field, Synthetic Biology. Furthermore, we wouldn’t heard of Jennifer Doudna, for her research in CRISPR.

First image of DNA helix


In addition, the test to diagnose cancers, was created by the nation’s scientist, Dr. Samir Iqbal. Furthermore, we challenge our friends and families for ALS ( Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)  ice bucket challenge, few years ago. The serious challenge of ALS was availed by a Pakistani neurologist in America, Dr. Teepu Siddiqui, who was working to find a mechanism of pathogenesis of ALS. Plus, a new bacterium was identified in 2015, Bacillus Malliki, named after Pakistan’s famous biotechnologist. Moreover, a genus of algae, Nizamuddinia Silva, named after a botanist, late Dr. Mohammed Nizamuddin. He worked in Australia and Germany and has his paper published in world’s renowned journal, ‘Nature’. In addition, a study in 2007, led by Dr. Kausar Malik at University of Punjab, has discovered a unique crystal protein from Bacillus Thuringiensis. This crystal destructs pests in stored grains, and not just improves quality, but also, affects quantity of grains (which includes rice, that is used to make our favorite food, Biryani). Also, one or two years before from now, CEMB has engineered cotton plant, for the first time in Pakistan (and yes, we can have cotton garments of different prints and designs to wear). Plus, Dr. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui extracted medicinal compound from Neem tree,  Ajmaline, named after famous Hakeem in India, Ajmal Khan (at that time).


And lastly, the most important, there are youngsters in Pakistan, who have participated in iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machines) in 2016 and 2017, to create biosensors, for the detection of air pollutants and heavy metals in water, respectively. These two projects were led by Sarah Farooq Khan. Not only she has participated and instructed members for such competition, but also, she wears veil and follow Islam.


Living as Muslims, doesn’t mean that we can’t learn science. In fact, its allowed to learn science, to help and save humanity.


We all know the major contribution of scientists, not only in health sector,or other industrial areas, but also, facilitated us to live quality life. Think again, there would be no doctor, without correct information to follow, and these information are concluded by scientists.


Today i.e. 10th of March, 2018, we all are celebrating ‘World’s Scientist’s day’, to celebrate their contributions to our healthy life.



Read also: Pakistani scientists who changed the world of biology (2017)



About the author

Mohammad Irtaza Tafheem

Mohammad Irtaza Tafheem is a talented postgraduate student of Biosciences from SZABIST, Karachi and currently an Intern in Biology Decoded.