Questions from the Spanish Olympiads in the life sciences

Questions from the Spanish Biology Olympiad (OEB) whose aim is to promote the interest in life sciences

Hi! I am Charles Breeze, a doctoral student at Stephan Beck’s team at University College London and participating in the 64th Lindau Meeting.

My main field of focus is Epigenetics, specifically DNA methylation and its relation to complex diseases such as Type 1 Diabetes. I have met several fellow young scientists at the Lindau Meeting that are involved in this area of research and I am grateful for the exchange of ideas with other participants about Epigenetics and, crucially, about the application of Bioinformatics in this exciting field.

Apart from bringing an active disposition to learn more about science and about the fascinating lives of the Nobel Laureates, I have brought to the meeting a series of questions. These questions were put together with the help of fellow young scientists that, in the same way as I did, participated in the so called Spanish Biology Olympiad (OEB), which is associated with the International Biology Olympiad (IBO).

The International Biology Olympiad (IBO) aims at promoting the interest in life sciences among high school students and to encourage the progress of society in education, research, healthcare and nature preservation. As such it comprises a large Alumni community that fosters relations between brilliant, highly-motivated young (or future) scientists and professionals. As such we from the Spanish Biology Olympiad organize meetings, offer research scholarships and consider collaborations with other Olympiads or science organizations at an international level. To participate in the Spanish Biology Olympiad only the top applicants from each part of the country are selected through regional competitions. The Spanish Biology Olympiad was founded ten years ago.

Members of the Spanish Biology Olympiad in Murcia (Spain) Credit: Charles Breeze

Members of the Spanish Biology Olympiad in Murcia (Spain) Credit: Charles Breeze

The following list of questions was gathered on the Facebook Group page  of OEB  and they are directed to all the participants in the Lindau meeting, as some of the best young scientists in the world are there, as well as the Nobel Laureates. So please give it a try and answer some of those in the comments. And/or add new questions if you like.

  1. Which is going to be the next step in the field of Synthetic Biology?
  2. When will it be possible to efficiently predict tertiary protein structure from primary protein sequence, using computational methods?
  3. Are there any evidences for a mechanism through which DNA can contain information from environmental influence that is outside the standard epigenetic machinery (methylation, chromatin modifications, etc)?
  4. One of the major problems currently in hospitals is the increasing number of bacteria resistant to antibiotics and the lack of tools to fight them. Antibiotics are not generated at the same speed as resistant bacteria. What is the way to solve this problem?
  5. Will it be possible to prevent ageing in a way that will allow for an increase in the quality of life for older people? Is there any opportunity for telomerase-related treatments in this area in the near future?

I hope that the people reading this blog can share in the dialogue about these pressing questions being asked at Lindau.

Charles Breeze

About Charles Breeze

Charles Breeze studied Biochemistry and Bioinformatics at the University of Navarra, Spain. He has also participated in the Spanish Biology Olympiad and has worked at several institutions such as the University of Oxford, the European Bioinformatics Institute and the Centre for Applied Medical Resarch in Pamplona. He is currently a PhD research student at Stephan Beck's group at University College London, focusing mainly on Epigenetics and Bioinformatics.

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