The Genomics Revolution: Illuminating the Power of the Genome

The School of Biological and Life Sciences held an engaging public lecture at the Lecture Theatre which shed light on the transformative impact of genomics in today’s world.

The lecture whose theme was “The Genomics Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Genome,” captivated an audience eager to understand how genomics is reshaping healthcare and various other sectors globally. The event attracted attendance of both staff and students, primarily from the School of Biological and Life Sciences.

The key takeaway from the engagement was that genomics exceeds mere scientific theory; it serves as a beacon of hope for patients worldwide. By precisely identifying genetic predispositions to diseases, genomics opens doors to preventive medicine and early interventions, potentially saving countless lives.

Distinguished guest speakers from renowned institutions played a pivotal role in the success of the event. Among them were Dr. John Gatimu, Regional Manager for East and Central Africa at Illumina, and Dr. Peter Nthiga, a Genomics Field Application Scientist at F & S Scientific Ltd.

Notably, attendees from TU-K included Acting Executive Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences and Technology (FAST), Prof. George Amolo, as well as Prof. Dorcas Yole, Director of the School of Biological and Life Sciences. Dr. Peris Amwayi, Academic Team Leader in the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, and other esteemed faculty members and students also graced the occasion.

During his opening remarks, Prof. Amolo extended warm greetings to the guests. He emphasised the importance of biology students acquiring computing skills, an essential adaptation for the job market, especially during internships.

“The world has evolved,” Prof. Amolo asserted. “Without computing skills, you are at a disadvantage.” These acquired skills empower students to confidently navigate machine processes within their careers. Furthermore, he highlighted the intersection of physics and biology, emphasising the need for computational proficiency in this dynamic field.

Dr. John Gatimu, the guest speaker and an esteemed expert in genomics, commenced by explaining the concept of a genome, a comprehensive set of DNA instructions similar to a manual. Remarkably, genomes exist in every organism across the world and they play a fundamental role in life processes.

Dr. Gatimu traced genomics’ fascinating journey from 2011 to the present day. He emphasised how technological advancements have significantly eased the reading of genomic information. According to Dr. Gatimu, “The power of genomics lies in its ability to unlock discoveries.”

To illustrate this, he shared an intriguing story about the Golden Buddha. Just as monks uncovered the hidden treasure after 700 years of being encased in clay, genomics holds similar promise - a source of insights waiting to be revealed.

Dr. Gatimu then delved into the practical applications of genomics, particularly in healthcare. Notably, it is revolutionising cancer management. Early detection is key, and genomics offers tests capable of screening more than 50 cancer cells before they manifest clinically. Dr. Gatimu boldly asserted, “In the next 10 years, we can significantly reduce cancer statistics through genomics.”

Beyond cancer, genomics plays a crucial role in personalised medicine. Comprehensive assessments reveal genetic mutations and specific cancer types, enabling tailored therapies for patients.

But genomics extends beyond human health. It contributes to wildlife conservation, marine preservation, and agricultural productivity. Dr. Gatimu called for collaboration between institutions and external partners to secure funding for impactful genomics projects.

In conclusion, genomics isn’t just a scientific field—it’s a beacon of hope, a roadmap to discoveries, and a catalyst for positive change across diverse domains.

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The Technical University of Kenya in partnership with Exploring Visual Cultures will be hosting the 4th International Conference from November 27th to 29th, 2024 at the Edge Convention Centre, Nairobi. The theme of the conference is AI Media Innovations, Applications, Visual Culture, Challenges, and Future Trends. The call for papers is out and the deadline for submission of abstracts is on 31st May, 2024.

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