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  • Subject Name : Biology

How Do We Create a Better Future?

Microbiology

Microbiology is a study of microorganisms like viruses and bacteria which are too small to be visible to the human eye. They are generally known as microbes.

American Society for Microbiology (ASM) states there is "non-consortium-style" funding is planned for microbiological research. It is only in the planning stage. ASM is an organization which studies antibiotic resistance and their effects (Jones, 2020). They recommend three key elements for antibiotic resistance which are educating the physician and the public, encourage the research to develop more effective vaccines, and set up a national surveillance unit to view the extent of the problem. From the Spanish flue to the latest Covid-19 the key elements are ignored in large. Most countries sought remedies only after the virus outbreak. This situation happens due to the insufficient funding in most of the countries for microbiological research.

Unified Microbiome Initiative (UMI) is a group of scientists and researchers from all over the world formed to study about microbiological organisms (Nature, 2016). Even though this is a US initiative funded by the US government the study about the microorganism should include people from all over the world, it is not limited to boundaries. Various Researchers, scientists, chemists, geologists, etc. are part of a team for developing new trends in microbiological research. The biologists get insight into the structure and function of microorganisms by studying them through clinical atmospheres.

Advanced laboratories with huge facilities are required for this. Microbes are also useful to human life. For example microbes in the ocean produce 50% of the oxygen and removes 50% carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Also, it removes methane from the ocean. This gives us the knowledge that how microorganisms can be used for benefits for humans. Researches in the area have been started all over the world. US Human Microbiome Project, the Canadian Microbiome Initiative, MetaHI (involving the European Union and China), and the Human Metagenome Consortium in Japan are some of the tops most researching organizations in the field. The Chinese government also took part in the development of microbiological research. Funding for the division of microbiology started in the year 2014 (Qiao, Huang, Liu & Wen, 2014). The division analyses the problems in all sub-departments and analyzes the results obtained. This helps the researchers in the future to apply for funds in biological research.

Area of Study: Microbiology

Percentage of Funding: 30%

Considerations

Personal Considerations

· Low fear of pandemics

· Better Treatment for Virus related diseases.

Societal Considerations

· Avoid lockdown and financial loss

· Available to all communities without considering ethnics, religious differences

Ethical considerations

· Can’t be harmful to any living and non-living bodies.

· Proper consent must be taken from people who have volunteered.

Future Considerations

· Better vaccines against pandemics

· Reduce environmental Pollution

Rationale

Most of the governments in the world are funding less in microbiological research. All the work begins only after the pandemic outbreak. This leads to the lockdown of the nation and causes financial loss for the government itself. The people fear pandemics and the government has to do the necessary funding for research so better vaccines can be developed. The society gets agitated during a pandemic. The social growth will decline as it's after effect. All the related researches should be monitored and sanctioned through the respective governments. The use of the virus as a weapon cannot be used on people. The usefulness of microorganisms is in the research. The above study analyses the ability of microbes to produce oxygen and reduce Carbon dioxide provide huge scope for future research. The funding for this research should be the prime priority of the governments. Most of the research-based funding should be given to microbiological area as its negligence directly affect the people and their life.

References

Jones, R.N. (2020). The emergent needs for basic research, education, and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance: Problems facing the report from the American Society for Microbiology task force on antibiotic resistance. Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Disease, 25(4), 153-161.

Nature. (2016). Microbiology: Create a global microbiome effort. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/news/microbiology-create-a-global-microbiome-effort-1.18636

Qiao, J., Huang, C., Liu, L., & Wen, M. (2014). Funding for Division of Microbiology in 2014 by the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Acta Microbiologica Sinica, 55(2), 121-125.

Cellular Biology

In cellular biology, we study cells which are the basic units of life. This is a vast field that is diversified into cell composition, cell metabolism, cell communication, cell cycle, and biochemistry.

A study on the limit to funding biodiversity (Waldron, et al., 2013) analyzes inadequate funding is the major reason for the decline in biodiversity researches. It also states the global funding failed to meet the United Nations target on biodiversity researches. Further analysis revolved around 40 countries in which there is a lack of consensus and funding gap. In addition to this 32% of the mammal population is under threat due to the lack of research in cell structure. But some other countries are well supporting the research on cellular biology, for example in China the government support “synthetic biology” through State Basic research 973 programs (Chen & Wang, 2015). They recently incorporated "mammalian cell synthetic biology" and "plant synthetic biology" to this research program. Another important aspect of cellular biology research is in the area of disease prediction. For example, early detection of cancer can reduce the death rate to the minimum level. Another area was the cellular research should focus on is cardiovascular disease. The leading cause of death in the world due to cardiovascular-related issues. World Health Organisation (WHO) lists 3.8 million men and 3.4 million women die due to cardiovascular-related diseases.

So the research in this area should be promoted. Even with the advancement in research in the cardiovascular area still, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) and heart failure (HF) remains the main cause of death in Europe and other countries. A study on ischaemic heart disease (Hensauly, et al., 2017) states that there is 7% death and 22% hospitalization at 1 year due to ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. Even in the developing countries, ischaemic heart disease is increasing and the mortality rate is also high. Persons with morbidities such as diabetes, left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy, a renal failure who have undergone surgery has still potential to peri-operative myocardial injury. Recent studies in the UK states 28% of the patients undergone surgery has to go surgery again in a 1-year duration. So new strategies are required for cardioprotective to reduce the effect of acute myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury. Researches are going on in the area of Ischaemic Pre-Conditioning (IPC), ischaemic Post-Conditioning (IPost), and Remote Ischaemic Conditioning (RIC). Even though the researches are going on in the last 30 years the results are mostly disappointing. This explains the need for research in the area of cardiovascular-related diseases.

Area of study: Cellular Biology

Percentage of funding:25%

Considerations

Personal Considerations

· Personal Health

· Better Treatment for Diseases

Societal Considerations

· Good for lower power and status communities

· Available to all communities without considering ethnics, religious differences

Ethical considerations

· Can’t be harmful to any living and non-living bodies.

· Proper consent must be taken from people who have volunteered.

Future Considerations

· Better Medicines

· Reduce environmental Pollution

Rationale

Many types of research are going in cellular biology to identify the structure of the cell and how it works. This leads to better medical treatment findings such as fighting against cancer and other terminal diseases. Both the public sector like universities and government sectors such as the Govt of Canada are contributing to cellular biological research. The best universities in the world are contributing to the research in the field of cell biology and are ranked (usnews, 2019) in terms of their performance. Both of these sectors need funds for their research. A large number of cardioprotective therapies failed to produce results for reducing the size of Myocardial Infarction (MI). So this is the time to reconsider the researches going on in the field of the cellular structure of the heart to prevent heart diseases in the future and will be a benefit to the patient. The studies above clearly state the importance of funding for cellular biology research. Even so, the government has to restrict synthetic biology to an extent because it can lead to the adverse effect like biological weapons.

References

Chen, G., & Wang, Y. (2015). Progress in synthetic biology of 973 Funding Program in China. Chinese Journal of Biotechnology, 31(6), 995-1008.

Hausenloy, D.J., Dorado, D.G., Bøtker, H.E., Davidson, S.M., Downey, J., Engel, F.B., & Team, R. S.J.R.M.C.F.R.J.L.W.J.D.K.G.P. (2017). Novel targets and future strategies for acute cardioprotection: Position Paper of the European Society of Cardiology Working Group on Cellular Biology of the Heart. European Society of Cardiology, 113(6), 564-585.

usanews. (2019). Best Global Universities for Molecular Biology and Genetics. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/education/best-global-universities/molecular-biology-genetics

Waldron, A., Mooers, A.O., Miller, D.C., Nibbelink, N., Redding, D., Kuhn, T.S., &Team, R.G. (2013). Targeting global conservation funding to limit immediate biodiversity declines. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(29), 12144-12148.

Genetics

Genetics is the study of genes that are the building blocks of cells and hence life.

The importance of genetics-based research is understood to the developed nations and they started funding towards its enhancement. The US government formed the Genetics Society of America for the development of genetics related study in the nation. The result of this organization has its own merits and demerits. The federal government started to support genetics only after World War II and now spend 30billion dollars per year from 2003 onwards (Rine & Fagen, 2015). This encourages the students and academicians to study in the field and select a career path. But the importance of this research is sometimes not aware of the media and thus creating a negative impact. Genetics Society of America surveyed on the funding issues in the genetics area. They formulated a questionnaire and circulated among the Principle Investigators (PI) of various research activities in the field of genetics. Most of them accept funding from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and Department of defense. The answers from PIs have collected and it is understood that 74% of PI got funding for their activities. This shows the importance of genetics research in the USA.

In Africa on the other hand the funding allowed for genetics research is far less compared to the USA. The World RePORT database, sponsored by the Heads of International Research Organizations (HIRO) and managed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that only 216 million USD is spent in Africa for 186 genetics related researches (Coles & Mensah, 2018). There is no collective method for finding research activities in Africa. For example, there is no way to find out the various activities in genetics related area, what amount of funds have been allocated to them, etc. The lack of a single source for observing all research-related activities diminishes the chance of funding provided by the external agencies. Only until recently, World RePORT finds the various contributors in the genetics research in Africa.

Area of study: Genetics

Percentage of funding:15%

Considerations

Personal Considerations

· Regrown the amputated parts of the human body

· Better Treatment for Diseases

Societal Considerations

· Good for lower power and status communities

· Available to all communities without considering ethnics, religious differences

Ethical considerations

· Can’t be harmful to any living and non-living bodies.

Cloning related issues should be monitored and controlled

Future Considerations

· Genetic Engineering for energy

· Reduce the population

Rationale

Genetic research has its good and bad parts. The good part is it can be used to develop vaccines for deadly diseases. For example, the vaccine developed for tuberculosis. But on the other hand, it has its demerits. One of the findings which generated controversy is cloning. Though it can effective for infertile couples and can be used for organ replacement still problems like human cloning is an issue among various governments and religions. It has a good future as it helps to cure previously incurable diseases but the fear of bringing new diseases shows the important research to be conducted in the area.

References

Coles, E., & Mensah, G.A. (2018). Geography of Genetics and Genomics Research Funding in Africa. Glob Heart, 12(2), 173-176.

Rine, J., & Fagen, A.P. (2015). The State of Federal Research Funding in Genetics as Reflected by Members of the Genetics Society of America. Genetics, 200(4), 1015–1019.

Anatomy of Mammals

Species are classified into mammals and amphibians where the former has hot blood in their veins but the latter has cold blood creatures. Mammals feed milk to their children through mammals' grand present in the mother. Mammals have hair on their skin while amphibians have pale and flat skin. Usually, amphibians are smaller than mammals. The difference in the anatomy of mammals from amphibians allows the mammals to take a smooth stride while walking. There is a finely tuned nervous system in mammals and birds which allow them to walk or run smoothly (ScienceDaily, 2020). Until in the 1990s, it is not known that the peripheral nervous system of mammals is different from other species. It is published in the Journal of Experimental Biology that the neuromuscular adaptations in mammals allow them to be agile in their activities.

The anatomy of some other is similar to humans and they are extensively used in biological research for new vaccine experiments (Barré-Sinoussi & Montagutelli, 2015). The anatomic and physiological operation of apes mimics human anatomy and they are widely used in biological experiments. The experiments are not a success always and this leads to some controversies. The European Commission started a 'Stop Vivisection' program against the use of mammals as an experimenting object. The confusion in this does not allow the government or official to take a final stand on this matter. Multilevel experiments are done by scientists on these animals like cells, organs, molecules, etc. Recently an in vitro approach has been developed which mimics the 3D structure of the cell. This leads to avoiding original animal tissues. But this model is in the primary stage and cannot be replaced by the original tissues and their physiological effects due to the complex nature.

Area of study: Anatomy of Mammals

Percentage of funding:15%

Considerations

Personal Considerations

· Organ transplantation

· Improved medical care

Societal Considerations

· Less fear of pandemics

· Available to all communities without considering ethnics, religious differences

Ethical considerations

· Avoid unnecessary testing on animals

Future Considerations

· Develop more in vitro like solutions

· Improve Research activities

Rationale

The anatomy of humans is complex. The scientist is studying anatomy at multiple levels from molecules to organs. It is unavoidable that they have to use other mammals for experimentation which are similar in structure and physiological activities with humans. There no clear boundary on this from an ethical point of view. No governments have taken a firm stand on this. For the growth of biological science and better treatment for human society, these experiments should go on. But the unnecessary trails on the animals should be avoided. The in vitro model which mimics the cell structure can be used for this. More researches are required in this so animals can be avoided in the future. The governments should take care of this matter and allocate the necessary funds. Then in the future actual living mammals can be replaced by computer-generated tests and it will benefit society.

References

Barré-Sinoussi, F., & Montagutelli, X. (2015). Animal models are essential to biological research: issues and perspectives. Future Sci OA, 1(4), FSO63.

Sciencedaily. (2020). Finely tuned nervous systems allowed birds and mammals to adopt smoother strides. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200127134906.htm

Plant Structure and Function

Understanding the structure and function of plants is essential to human life. Plants produce oxygen while accepting carbon dioxide through a process called photosynthesis. The growth and structure of plants are related to the microbial community associated with it ( Legay, et al., 2014). The treatment of plants is two ways above-ground trait and below ground trait. While most of the research is going on in the above-ground traits the below-ground traits are almost ignored. Studies are going on in this field which specifies how the soil properties are affected by the below-ground traits and the microbiological organisms under it. The microorganisms are responsible for the nitrogen turn over for the soil and directly related to the plant growth. The results show that below plant traits directly affect the abundance of the microorganisms present and hence important to the structure and development of plants.

Computer Tomography (CT) imaging can be used to visualize a 3D structure of plants. This can be used to study the function of plants in detail. In a recent study (McElrone, et al., 2013) on High-Resolution x-ray computed Tomography (HRCT) is used to create a plant vasculature in 3D. This technology is similar to the CT scan performed on humans but a high-intensity x-ray creates a high-resolution image with less image acquisition time. A large number of 2D slices can be created from 3D samples which virtually gives a structure of the plant in any area. Initially, this method is applied to dry woods which produces good images but recent advancements in the technology allow us to apply this method on green plants with high accuracy.

Area of Study: Plant Structure and Function

Percentage of funding:15%

Considerations

Personal Considerations

· Organic farming

· Improved Health

Societal Considerations

· Green earth

· Less emission of Carbon di Oxide

· Less Global warming

Ethical considerations

· HRCT testing may harm plants

Future Considerations

· Develop less harmful HRCT methods

· Improve Research activities

Rationale

Plants grow using the fertilizers in the soil. The microorganism plays a vital role in this. Because they contribute the nitrogen in the soil which is essential for plant growth.

These studies have to be made in the below soil. How to increase the number of organisms that help in the growth of plants. Using artificial fertilizers can bring good results initially but in a long time point view, this is harmful to the soil and organisms in it. The increased use of artificial fertilizers is a major problem now. Researches are going on to develop fertilizers with less harmfulness to the plants. Understanding the structure of plants helps to develop good fertilizers for them. We can adopt methods like HRCT to study the anatomy of plants. But these systems can make adverse effects on plant growth. In the future modern methods in computer, imagery can apply to find the structure and growth of plants without harmful effects.

References

Legay, N., Baxendale, C., Grigulis, K., Krainer,U., Schloter, E.K., Bardgett, R.D., & Team, A.B.D.P.P.C.L. (2014). Contribution of above- and below-ground plant traits to the structure and function of grassland soil microbial community. Annals of Botany, 114(5), 1011-1021.

McElrone, A. J., Choat, B., Parkinson, D. Y., MacDowell, A. A., & Brodersen, C. R. (2013). Using High-Resolution Computed Tomography to Visualize the Three Dimensional Structure and Function of Plant Vasculature. J. Vis. Exp. (74), e50162.

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