What is Biochemistry- more of Biology or more of Chemistry

After your 10+2 examination, it is the time to choose your carrier path and you need to decide on a subject for your under graduation study. You need to choose a subject wisely, which you can fall in love with, has a good job perspective, a versatile curriculum and you can have a carrier that is fulfilling to your intellectual and curious mind and most importantly serves society in a way that no other profession can substitute it. Here I am going to suggest to you the subject Biochemistry.

Now before you sought ‘Eureka’ and jump into this Biochemical soup; let us understand what Biochemistry really is and what the carrier opportunities are for a student studying Biochemistry. First, let us understand if Biochemistry is more of chemistry or Biology or if both of them in equivalent. The subject Chemistry mostly deals with atoms and molecules, which are the constituents of our whole universe. Chemistry describes the different properties of every individual element in the periodic table, also describes how the atomic-level structure of those elements is responsible for these special characteristics. By doing so, it opens up new possibilities to design new materials and molecules with novel functions that have never existed in our universe or some improved version of the existing materials. Therefore, chemistry discovers the basic theories or rules of chemical science to invent new materials and molecules. These rules are followed by every element and chemical reaction in nature including all the living entities. The subject Biochemistry uses those rules to explain all the reactions and phenomena of the biological world.  Consider us, Humans, the way our eyes see light follows the basic rules of photochemistry, the way we breadth it follows basic chemical rules of diffusion and osmosis. All the metabolic reaction that generates energy, produces biomolecules, polymerization of DNA, RNA and proteins follow basic rules of chemical reactions. So, you may ask, is there anything special in Biochemistry or it is just that old chemistry in a new wrapper? Biochemistry deals with the structure and functions of bio-macromolecules, which are more complex than simple elementary chemistry. Biological reactions are remarkably accurate, specific (Stereospecific/regiospecific), and high yield. Moreover, all the reactions occur at 37 degrees centigrade with no scope of heating or cooling. Therefore, although the biochemical reactions are following basic elementary chemical principles, it uses sophisticated biological machinery (like ribosome to synthesize proteins, motor proteins for cellular transport and different enzymes for biochemical synthesis, etc) to make the reactions more efficient. The subject Biochemistry deals with these machinery to explain how it works and how malfunction of it can cause a deadly disease. The scope of biochemistry extends even further to identify or invent molecules that have medicinal properties to cure the disease.  So, therefore, the subject biochemistry has the equivalent amount of Biology and Chemistry and also includes small parts of Physics too. However, the curriculum for B. Sc Biochemistry includes associated subjects like Microbiology, Cell Biology, Biotechnology, Molecular biology, Recombinant DNA technology, Immunology, Human Physiology, Genetics, etc. So, as a whole, the course Biochemistry has little more Biology than Chemistry.

You might be wondering after you finished your B. Sc in Biochemistry, what are the jobs that are available to you.  Now a day, Indian bio-industries are growing like never before and everyone knows these names like Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech, and Biocon. These big bio-industries which produces vaccine, enzymes, antibody-based immunotherapy for cancer (Biologics), etc recruits Biochemistry undergraduates. All medicine companies like Dr. reddy’s laboratories, Cipla, Aurobindo Pharma, Lupin limited, etc recruit Biochemistry undergraduates as laboratory associates as well as medical representatives. Different food processing, breweries and bioprocess companies recruit Biochemistry undergraduates as quality control experts. Other than industry, you can appear for all those government jobs that require a bachelor’s degree.

However, the most interesting and intense carrier opportunity a Biochemistry undergraduate can have is pursuing higher study and research. There are different competitive examinations like National eligibility test (NET) and Graduate aptitude test for engineers (GATE) after you complete your M. Sc in Biochemistry to join a research lab as a PhD student in India. Alternatively, you can appear in Graduate Record Examination (GRE)/ Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and choose to go abroad (USA, Germany, Canada, UK, Singapore, etc) to pursue your PhD. The focus of research in Biochemistry lab all over the world are mainly to understand the molecular basis of life. The area like protein Biochemistry identifies and understands proteins and enzymes and characterizes the function and their role in a biochemical reaction. Structural Biology is the area to understand the three-dimensional structures of bio-machineries at atomic level resolution using sophisticated techniques like X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy and NMR. Researchers are also working on cell biology, cancer biology, synthetic biology/bio-printing, antibiotic resistance, drug discovery, Bioinformatics/computational biology, immunology/antibody engineering, Virology/vaccine development, Bioelectronics/Biosensor and many more interesting topics.      

Although we know a lot about basic chemistry that explains some of the most complex phenomena in the universe but unfortunately, we still do not know everything about ourselves and the biological systems around us. We need thousands of trained biochemists (like you would be) to solve the most challenging problems in biological science. Right now burning problems are antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria, the development of therapeutics for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, resolving unknowns about the human brain and its functions, etc.  We need biochemists to contribute to our current development of gene therapy techniques to cure diseases associated with congenital genetic disorders like Haemophilia, Muscular dystrophy, Thalassemia, and many more. You can also contribute to human sustainability in the era of environmental crisis by implementing genetic engineering to improve food production, recycling water using microorganisms, developing new ways to control heavy metal and plastic pollution, development of biofuel/Hydrogen/microbial fuel cells as an alternative to overcome fast depletion of natural fuel resources, etc.  Please keep in mind that the path of biological research is not smooth at all; you have to be prepared for continuous failure, unsuccessful experiments and plans, sleepless nights, irregular lunch and diners and many more. However, the role you are going to serve as a Biochemist for the benefit of humankind is unique and invaluable for the well-being of all of us.

biochemistry
Figure: The mechanism of inhibition of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase from SARS-CoV-2 by remdesivir have been discovered using cryo-electron microscopy technique which is associated with structural biology and students with a degree in Biochemistry can participate similar kind of research.

Pandemic to Prospect: New Avenues of Human Geography

Pandemic has heated hard the entire world as well as the academic field. But the social researchers found new ways of doing research within this fatal situation also. Covid 19 itself has become one of the key issues of research in the gamut of human geography. New research topics have come up with high research potential.

The world is constantly struggling with the demonic Covid 19. Academicians are also the worriers who are constantly dealing with the pandemic situation with utter positivity. The whole world has been locked within the four walls of the abode. But the mind of man can roam about here and there without having any restrictions of lockdown. The researchers are among those people, whose minds are freely moving in the alleys of new research scopes. The researchers from different domains have proved that the problems can be transformed into possibilities with structured and designed thinking.

Human geographers are always concerned about the minute tribulations of society. The intricacies of human nature and its reflections are the focal theme of research for human geographers. In the pandemic situation, the entire subjectivity of the social response and bonding has been changed in so many ways that human geographers got plenty of new research topics in their purview of knowledge. The research works based on Covid 19 are not only focusing on the epidemiological dimensions of it but human responses towards the pandemic are playing a role of pivotal research interest. The community-based studies on the pandemic situation, deriving simulation models based on human behavioural changes within this pandemic situation, and sustainable planning practices (especially in urban setups) are some highly focused issues in the domain of human geography after the pandemic has trickled.

Human geography has taken a new turn during this pandemic situation. Researchers have taken their ideas into various dimensions where the pandemic has created an abyssal impact. The major trends within this pandemic are quite challenging and interesting.

  • Works on migration and mobility are the leading aspect to which most of the research work in human geography is being devoted.
  • Policy research is one of the major aspects of research in the domain of human geography which took a new momentum. Ample of scopes have been created in terms of policy research starting from fiscal policy review to health policy recommendations.
  • Changes in human-nature interaction and their changing dynamics with the ecological system are the very dynamic aspect of research in growing demand.
  • A new form of web-based crime has grown in this pandemic situation. This sort of criminological study has huge scope and relevance for the betterment of society.
geography
Source: Dimension Database, 2022

The number of publications regarding pandemics in the domain of human geography has reached new heights after 2020. The rise is quitter sterling. Looking at the graph, the uprising trend of research in human geography after the pandemic is quite evident. Smithsonian Institution of the United States is leading in this field of research in the arena of human geography regarding the pandemic.

 Adamas University is one of the eminent places for high-end research in India. Department of Geography has taken up research issues related to pandemics. This department has organized one international conference entitled “Health and Environment: Frontiers Ahead”. This conference was devoted to the research works from various domains on the Pandemic situation across the world. Students from the department of geography started preparing research articles on the impact of Covid on various aspects of human society.

Reference:

Roger Frutos, Laurent Gavotte, Jordi Serra-Cobo, Tianmu Chen, Christian Devaux (2021), COVID-19 and emerging infectious diseases: The society is still unprepared for the next pandemic, Environmental Research, Volume 202

https://app.dimensions.ai/

Effective Blogging: The Road ahead

In 2022, the fifth most reliable source for online information has been rated to be the Blogs. Each month, nearly, 409 million people view more than 20 billion pages. That’s quite a huge number! So, you know why there has been a steady upsurge in blogging.

A blog according to Wikipedia is a discussion or informational website published on the internet, often informal diary-style posts.

This article will have two sections. First, how pandemic affected the blogging industry and second, some effective guidelines for writing good blogs.

Now, we will discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has its impact on blogging industry. Though the nature of the work is staying indoors but a survey conducted by firstsiteguide.com shows that 63.88% have been affected directly. Likewise, many had to alter their habits, pay higher prices, withdraw various services, and find a new method. Nearly, 46.50% of bloggers say that they have been blogging more since the pandemic. Whereas, 27.18% say that they blogged less, while the rest didn’t transform their blogging behaviour. However, some posted less as they weren’t motivated enough. Traffic has also been affected during the pandemic, only 54.27% of blogs getting more traffic. Since blogging revenue is directly connected to the amount of online traffic, around 35.19% of bloggers say that their revenue increased. On the other hand, 25.13% of bloggers had less revenue. The rest stated no significant changes.

blogger income bar graph
Courtesy: firstsiteguide.com

So, now this article will throw some light on 9 effective steps for blogging. Though this is not exhaustive but you can read through to sail smoothly.

The first thing you learn when you’re blogging is that people are one click away from leaving you. So, you’ve got to get to the point, you can’t waste people’s time, you’ve got to give them some value for their limited attention span.

Alex Tabarrok

Tabarrok rightly puts it that your writing style will be the ultimate mantra for an effective blog. With limited attention span of your audience, you can either entice them or keep them at bay with just one click.

  1. Write for yourself first – To take the first step towards blogging; At first write for yourself. Have a critical mind to analyze beyond your ideas.
  • Think, whether you are liking your write-up.
  • Question yourself: Will you, as an audience, like to read the whole text? If not, why?
  • Work both on your strengths and your weaknesses. This is a key element to decipher your connection with your readers. 
  1. Get concepts from your audience- Audience is your patron. They will guide you to sail through this online race. So, if you can connect with them on regular basis, they will suggest your topics. But before that be careful, you must listen to your inner calling. Like, which genre of writing will keep you afloat even after 6 months or years after?

Hope, you don’t want to quit the scene. Right! So, hang on!

  1. Comprehend your audience- Don’t ever under estimate your audience. They will give you feedback regarding your blogs. So, keep an open mind for constructive criticism. This process will aid you to sharpen your skill as a blogger.

Always keep an open dialogue with them and work on their suggestions to perfect your art of business.

  1. Love your present readers – Whenever you have published your blog on platforms like, WordPress or Blogger etc. You will have your set of audience. That means you have offered your blog for the outer world to add their comments. They will judge you, appreciate you or moreover can troll you. But you may never know when your blog can become viral? Though there is a debate whether every viral content is worth sharing or not but you can’t deny the fact that it has immense power to get noticed!

So, love your existing readers and respect their opinions.

  1. Be consistent – This is a mantra for every business i.e., consistency. Write on regular basis either daily, weekly or fortnightly. But if you are serious in your business, write on daily basis. Fix on your ideas, research well, be careful with your references. DON’T ever indulge in plagiarism. Respect others work to earn your respect.

You can be inspired by others but structure your blog according to your own niche style.

  1. Keep it short – There is a saying in the field of journalism – KISS & TELL. That means Keep It Short Simple & Tell the Story. It goes with the concept of effective blogging too. When your audience is a click away to skip your page. The method to hold on to your audience, is to tell a story, in a few words.

We can say, brevity is the key.

  1. Give it time – Believe me, if you love to write. You will give your time no matter what? So, time will pay you dividends. It will gain your regular audience. There is an audience for every genre of writing.
  • Focus on your daily target.
  • Try to write at least 500 words daily.
  • Make it a habit. As if you are writing on your diary.
  1. Write catchy headlines – Headline is said to be the crest of every write-up. So, if it fails to convey the message well to your readers; then forget about your efforts on your research. You must think captivating headlines that will trigger interest in your audience to read your blog till the end.

So, practice writing enticing headlines to grab attention of your readers but remember Don’t misguide them!

  1. Be Yourself – This is what will give that niche touch to your blogs. Have that personal touch. Don’t pretend to be what you are not. Your readers know you through your blogs, so be an open book, which can be read whenever they feel like.

So, we come to an end of this blog. Hope you enjoyed reading and start blogging from today!

Reference

  1. https://optinmonster.com/blogging-statistics/#:~:text=General%20Blogging%20Statistics,sites%20are%20written%20in%20English.
  2. https://firstsiteguide.com/blogging-industry-survey/#pdf

BLURB

The 10 most fascinating insights from blogging industry

  1. The majority of bloggers are millennials (people aged 25 to 34).
  2. For 14.08% of people, the greatest challenge was starting a blog.
  3. 91.65% of bloggers recommend starting a blog if you don’t have one yet.
  4. 28.83% of bloggers use GoDaddy web hosting services, followed by Bluehost with 9.90%.
  5. 59.81% of bloggers make money through blogging.
  6. 18.74% say that affiliate marketing is their top revenue source.
  7. 44.56% recommend YouTube as the second most popular revenue channel.
  8. 54.08% of bloggers say that they get the most traffic from social media.
  9. 33.40% of bloggers get ideas for new post topics on social media.
  10. 63.88% of blogs were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and 46.50% of bloggers say that they have been blogging more since the pandemic started

Clinching a Gleam of Optimism in Pharma Domain during Pre and Post Covid-19 era; Silver Lining in Dark Cloud

 Prologues 

The shadowy coronavirus eruption in the Chinese city Wuhan by December 2019, now called as COVID-19, and its reckless blowout to several other countries, jeopardizes thousands of lives, led to a medical emergency all over the world. The pandemic has catalysed the development of novel coronavirus drugs or vaccines across pharmaceutical, biotech companies and research organisations. Currently, there are no definite vaccines or treatments. However, there are numerous clinical trials by several pharmaceutical companies is ongoing to achieve a potential treatment. 

Outbursts 

From an economic perspective, the key issue is not just the number of cases of COVID-19, but the level of disruption to economies from containment measures 

-Ben May, Head of Global Macro Research at Oxford Economics. 

The virus outburst has transformed as one of the prime threats to the worldwide economy and financial markets. Several outbreak effects are: 

  • Global stocks of hit 
  • Declining crash of oil prices   
  • High recession risk 
  • Turn to advanced and fruitful technology 
  • Hardest hit in tourism throughout the world 
  • Visibility of lockdowns mere consequence 
  • Unemployment of a large section of common people 

Governments around the world have admonished workforces to continue from home whereas possible. The travel industry has been dreadfully damaged. Stockholders dread that the outbreak of the coronavirus will extinguish the economic growth and that governmental authority may not be enough to halt the decline. 

Pharmacists and Pharmacies; the Frontline of Public Health  

As an increasing number of countries and towns are in lockdown condition, millions of public are in isolation and are maintaining social distancing inside their homes. It has indeed observed all over the globe that the pharmacy professionals are acting frontline roles enormously. Pharmacists are a fundamental element of healthcare providing extraordinary services in the earlier pandemics and health calamity also. 

Community pharmacists and their teams remain on the front of public health during the outbreak by serving as direct access for patients, keen-sighted patients and reducing the patients’ load on health practices. Community pharmacists also endure to play their uninterrupted action for consistent supplies of medication as well as other needful supporting. The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) has dispensed a pack of 10 synopses for guidance on COVID-19. Other pharmaceutical association has also providing guidelines and needful documents for the solidification and attentiveness of the community pharmacies as front line health care workers in the global health crisis. 

Pharmacies around the world are one of the few places that are kept open for public service even during the strict lockdowns. 

A Wakeup Call for Pharma Industry Globally 

As economies around the world are suffering from the impact of Covid-19 and many business faces the challenges but pharmaceutical businesses captivating step in the Covid-19 fight. Such as Eli Lilly and Gilead are farsighted growth on the market and a novel torrent of invention in the communicable disease scenery as the treatment approval for a Covid-19 cure takes off. Other pharmaceutical companies also following ensemble during the Covid-19 pandemic and using their individual proficiencies to alleviate the cargo of coronavirus. As more clinical trials are performing, novel therapies may achieve. However, during this financial regression and global health fears, the contribution of pharmaceutical firms is on the mark and their impression on the competition against the virus will not be simply forgotten. The perception of large revenues coming from newly established drugs will face amplified inspection in a time of global pandemic as an outcome of communal and competitive pressures. 

 Pharmaceutical scenario in India 

India is a chief provider of low-priced drugs all over the world and is truly recognized as the ‘Pharmacy of the World’.  It ranks 3rd, worldwide for pharmaceutical production by volume, 13th by value and accounts for about 10% of the world’s production by volume and 1.5% by value. 50% of the United States’ generic drug needs are met by India. The Indian pharma industry aspires to become the world’s largest supplier of drugs by 2030. All major pharma industries have come all together to aid with knowledge and sharing information to safeguard production of medications critical to tackle coronavirus. Alembic is operating at 80% formulation capacity and its API plant is operational at around 60-70% capacity. Similarly, Zydus, a foremost manufacturer of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) has already augmented its capacity to produce both the API and the other formulation manifold. Additionally, other reputed and other companies is also prioritising the manufacturing of drugs that are in high demand now, like azithromycin.  A few weeks ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cleared HCQ supplies from India to countries like the US, Brazil and Israel. 

Rays of Hope Amidst 

The role and necessity of pharmacist is reshaping its approach towards society. Now Their true value is exposed due to their services towards masses including utmost care, psychological support etc. 

There are substantial global exertions proceeding to diagnose, cure and avert infections from the virus. Pharmaceutical firms are working universally to battle Covid-19 from scientific data gained from eras of knowledge with comparable viruses and undertaking novel inventories of research to identify additional potential treatments for R&D. 

References: 

  1. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 
  2. https://thebluecircle.co/2020/05/04/covid-19-a-wakeup-call-for-indias-pharma-industry/ 
  3. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-51706225 Bukhari, Nadia, Huma Rasheed, and Bismah Nayyer. “Pharmacists at the frontline beating the COVID-19 pandemic.” (2020): 1-4 
  4. https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/comment/covid-19-pharmaceutical-companies-impact/ 

#AU4CHANGE: A SUCCESSFUL EXPERIMENT WITH PARTICIPATORY AND COLLECTIVE LEARNING

Covid-19 is no longer just a virus-induced infectious disease. It is much more than that. In fact, it wouldn’t be an overstatement if we were to dub it as an unprecedented phenomenon. While acknowledging its disastrous consequences, we should have no qualms in accepting that it has been the biggest catalyst of instantaneous changes that we have encountered in our daily lives. As the second wave of the disease continues to ravage India, our lifestyles have turned upside down.

The sweeping changes due to Covid-19 have gripped all areas of human life. The field of academics has been one of the biggest areas of change. The nature of the virus is such that it requires people to stay indoors and interact with each other virtually. Thus, technology-mediated virtual learning has become the alternative for physical learning. Classroom-centric learning has given way to app-based remote learning.

Although, online interactions constitute the only way to continue learning at this juncture, the absence of personal touches and the monotony of continuously sitting in front of the computers have created a peculiar negative inertia among learners. Across the world, the euphoria that was associated with online learning towards the beginning of the pandemic is hardly there. Teachers, therefore, are having a tough time maintaining the interest level of the learners.

Like every other academic across the globe, yours truly, being a humble media teacher at the School of Media and Communication (SOMC) under the Kolkata-based Adamas University (AU), was finding it an uphill task to retain learners’ attention during online classes. It was contingent on me to try an alternative mechanism. This is where I thought I would pass the buck to the learners themselves so that the intensity and quantum of their involvement could be significantly enhanced.

On an experimental basis, I applied this decided reversal of roles for a course entitled ‘Contemporary Media Issues’, which is taught to the fourth-semester students of Bachelor of Arts [B.A. (Honours)] in Journalism and Mass Communication (J.M.C.). According to the deal that I had with the students, the entire class of 45 students was divided into three groups. Each group was given the responsibility to take care of two modules out of a total of six that were included in the course curriculum. Each group has a name, a captain and a vice-captain. Therefore, on a given instructional day, the captain of the assigned group would pick up a topic from the two decided modules and initiate the discussion. It is worthwhile to mention that the captain of a group is responsible for informing the topic in advance to me so that I can also prepare accordingly. During the class, each member of the assigned group would speak for a certain amount of time so that the entire topic is covered in a nutshell. I would also add my inputs to the discussion and invite members from other groups to contribute their ideas.

Initially, the quality of discussions wasn’t up to the mark and many learners couldn’t express their ideas owing to an inability to speak English. However, with sustained motivations, learners slowly started coming out of their shells. With some confidence, now I can say that the classes are a lot more interactive than what was the case earlier.

Additionally, each group is responsible for finding out all the resources pertaining to their assigned modules and distributing the same amongst all the learners. Not only does it enhance the researching skills of the learners, it also significantly adds to their repertoire of knowledge.

This technique had a significant bearing on enhancing the collective attendance of the learners. Additionally, all of them felt responsible for the course thereby inspiring collective learning. Learning essentially needs to be a democratic process and this procedure significantly added to the democratic fervour.

Participatory and group learning is the order of the day. As a teacher, it was my honest attempt to introduce the same at my school.

While depression among learners is at an all-time high subject to an uncertain future and reduced career opportunities, it is equally true that teachers have an inescapable responsibility to uplift their spirit. I am sure that a little bit of innovation can go a long way in reviving the confidence of learners on the teaching-learning process. The rest, they say, is history.