Education

Interdisciplinary – the new word in education which is not a buzz

Targeted medicine has taken the world of healthcare by storm.

It started when Craig Venter set up the Celera Genomics in 1998, and the long standing dream of mapping the “code of life” started taking shape.

Celera and many more organizations have been able to overcome the challenge of codification of the two billion genes in the DNA of human beings. The double helix structure which was first written about by James D. Watson, and it’s connections of guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine (ATCG) was cracked. Over time, the cost of mapping the genome code (genome sequencing) of an individual has fallen dramatically – from almost $10 million in 2008 to close to $1,000 today.

And with this came up the discussions on targeted medications.

ICD 10 defines diseases under more than 155,000 categories. Add to these thousands of types of drugs, poisons and allergies. The total combination is approximately 32 billion. That then needs to be mapped to the age, previous illnesses, the gene pool of a geographic location – and the problem becomes gargantuan. No wonder the medication is always a best case scenario, dependent on the doctor’s understanding, clinical knowledge, patient constitution, treatment and medication history, and many other parameters.

So targeted medication, which brings in the knowledge gathered from the “code of life” of an individual, along with the history and crunching the data to find the best case scenario is an area which excites the medical community like never before.

But what it takes to make such a drug? Well of course we have already spoken about gene mapping, the medication history, the gene pool, the diagnosis, the dugs/ allergy/ diseases/ poisons. That is lot of healthcare.

But we need a lot of data, the storage and computing of that. That needs cutting edge hardware, software, and analytics tools. And we need engineers who has that skills.

We need people who can articulate the vision of the targeted medication and make people aware of the possibilities. Those are people who understands the society, the psychologists, the technical writers, the marketers.

We need the physicists and chemists to understand the interactions between molecules and the human body. We will need simulators who will help design the drugs. We will need companies who will help doing clinical studies, and social groups who will find volunteers.

We will need people with knowledge of law and medicine, to draft the rules and the agreements. We will need mechanical, electrical, chemical and computer science engineers to understand the needs of the sophisticated machinery and build them.

We will need the compute power, and data repositories. Also skills who can help in data capture, storage, annotation and access.

And overall we will need social and political leadership to ensure that the society is ready for such disruptive treatment.

So where we have come? From healthcare of drug discovery, to a comprehensive multidisciplinary activity – where so many people are involved.

And that is one of examples of the cutting edge initiatives that we are having today in every sphere. Gone are the days where we can bucket something – for everything people with different skills and knowledge needs to come together.

So spots need management for making better sports persons and infrastructure, and physicians and mechatronics individuals for finding the right movements. And doctors, physics and nutritionists for the right diet and supplements.

And that is where a Unitary University comes handy. But there are rare – as it needs space to have all the departments in one campus. Like Presidency, Jadavpur and Adamas – only three in Bengal.

Here the students may take advantage of being close to all the departments outside their own. They can take classes there with credit sharing mode. They can form interdisciplinary teams, they can attend conferences spanning across disciplines.

And they be more ready for the workplace of the future. And have a head start.

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