Focal Theme - Genomics in Health and Disease
The Genome comprises of the entire collection of genes present in an organism that is needed to encode all the possible information to sustain its life. The human genome contains about 3.5 billion base pairs of DNA distributed into 23 pairs of separate chromosomes. Only about 2-3% of this entire genome is only necessary and sufficient to specify about 25000 protein coding genes that are present, and perhaps an equal number encodes for most of the regulatory functions such as micro RNAs, small and large repetitive RNAs etc. A substantial number of pseudogenes (noncoding) and retrotransposon sequences are also found to be distributed in a genome wide manner, still leaving a substantial proportion of unexplained functions. Genomics refers to the study of the structure, organization and function of the entire genome and is therefore, of utmost importance to understand the life process, be its origin, sustenance or dissemination/perpetuation. The deciphering of the complete human genome sequence about a decade ago has made it possible to address some of the most pertinent questions. The technological advances in this area of research have been so enormous, the cost of deciphering the complete genome sequences has been reduced by a hundred fold and become affordable. Today we are in a position to address some of the most complicated questions about the life process from its origin to its various attributes in health and diseases at a molecular level. The reduction in cost and decrease in time has significantly increased accessibility to apply this technology in the enquiries of human disease, agriculture, microbiome characterization, as well as advances in basic biological sciences and ultimately for better health management and welfare of the human society at large. With an ever-increasing global population there is an inevitable requirement to ensure better healthcare, food and nutrition through genomics.
The Science Congress will discuss the cardinal challenges in this field and its relevance to the State of Kerala with the help of various research and development institutions working in this sector.