Dr.Sunit K. Singh, renowned molecular virologist, is currently working as Associate professor and Head of the department of Molecular Biology in the faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical sciences, Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi. Prior to moving to the BHU, Varanasi, Dr. Singh worked as a scientist in the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad. Dr. Singh has thrown light on the role of molecular biology in coming years in a brief interview with Shaheryar Hossain.
Excerpts as follows:
At a time when the fear of viral infections such as Ebola, Japanese Encephalitis Virus and Chikungunya Virus are still prevailing among people, what precautions should one take to be safe from these diseases?
Ebola has not been reported in India. The Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV) and Chikungunya viruses (CHIKV) are the mosquito borne viruses. JEV is transmitted by Culex mosquitoes, whereas, Chikunguna Virus gets transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. The JEV infect neurons and microglial cells in the human brain, which leads to the activation of innate immune response and triggers the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. The symptoms of chikungunya infection include onset of fever and severe joint pain. Other signs and symptoms may include fatigue, muscle pain, headache and rash. The vaccine is available for JE but not for CHIKV.
One should avoid the mosquito bites as a prevention strategy. People should use mosquito repellents and mosquito nets while sleeping. One must not allow the water logging during rainy season in close vicinity of the human population.
What is the importance of studying Molecular Biology?
Molecular Biology is an interdisciplinary science, which provides the understanding of the cellular functions at the gene levels. The field integrates biochemistry and genetics to understand better, the complex process called life. With the help of Molecular biology, we can find the genes, which are involved in disease conditions. Further, the field will help in understanding how the pathogen interacts with cells and cause disease.
What is scope of Molecular Biology in India?
The career is challenging but rewarding. Those who have sufficient interests and relevant academic qualification can only make a career in Molecular Biology.
A molecular biologist may find him or her working in research laboratory or in academics where he/she can educate the up-coming generation about the benefits of studying molecular biology.
Why should students opt for Molecular Biology?
Molecular Biology is an interdisciplinary science and has important roles to play in the field of animal, plant, veterinary and medical sciences.
What is your message to Medical students?
Since medical students study the physiology, anatomy of human body in detail; they have better understanding of how the body works in normal and diseased conditions. Medical Council of India should include the Molecular Biology and biotechnology in its course curriculum at least at the undergraduate level.
Medical students should be taught the basics of molecular biology so that they may understand the disease properly at the molecular level and that can be helpful further in the development of therapeutic and diagnostic tools.