Sunday, January 15, 2012

First days of PhD

Chemistry was not my subject during high school. I failed in Chemistry in my 11th grade. During our summer break I came all the way to Kathmandu just to take chemistry tuition. I never explored the significance of the topics in chemistry and I thought that the subject is complementary to physics. So I was never worried of being weak in chemistry. For me, it was nothing more than a subject to be passed. We (chemistry and I) met again during the second year of my engineering. Scores were the most important thing for me at that time so I had to read everything. That was where I developed interest towards chemistry. I realized that chemistry is important. Now, after some 7 years, I am again reading chemistry for my PhD research. Right now, I can only say that the world is round and there is no escaping.

My first day with our supervisor, Dr. Jianlin Cheng, was exciting. I saw my lab building, computer, room and my table. He handed me the keys. Since then, it has become around a week that I am reading papers and understanding a new concepts. Currently I am assigned to work on things related to constructing protein structures. Did not understand it right? It was same for me. Now I know a little. I was dumb about even what a protein is. I thought that protein is something contained in pulse, egg, milk and meat, and nothing more than that.

Proteins are very important organic compounds. Structural proteins make various parts of our body. Functional proteins perform vital functions. Here are a few examples: Collagen is a fiber like protein which is the main component of muscles, Elastin is another protein which provides elasticity to skin, regulatory proteins are hormones, Insulin maintains blood glucose level (Yes it is also a protein!), Hemoglobin transports oxygen and carbon dioxide. In addition, enzymes and antibodies are also proteins.
Let me elaborate my assignment in a few lines. A fundamental problem in molecular biology is the prediction of the three-dimensional structure of a protein from its amino acid sequence. The amino acids in polypeptide chain are linked by peptide bonds. Once linked in the protein chain, an individual amino acid is called a residue (residue is not some bye product!). A peptide bond is the residue-residue contact.
Topics touched by my research