Dr. Muhammad Tariq Talks about Environment & Epigenetics
Dr. Muhammad Tariq, Chair, Department of Biology, School of Science and Engineering (SSE), LUMS, along with Nimra Asi and Zain Umer (BS Biology 2012 students), participated as a speaker at an international meeting/workshop held in Almora, India under the aegis of TATA Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) & International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS), India.
This multi-disciplinary meeting was organised by Prof. Vidyanand Nanjundiah, a senior Professor in Developmental Genetics at Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore and Dr. L. M. S. Palni who is Director of G. B. Pant Institute for Himalayan Environment and Development in Almora, India. The meeting was attended by scientists from across disciplines like Physics, Chemistry, Social Behaviour, Psychology, and Biology from around the world.
The theme of the meeting was to explore alternatives expressed in the form of two questions which form the basis of much contemporary evolutionary thinking: Is group evolution propagated through the medium of genes as classically understood for individual evolution, and if so, how? Or does it occur via states of individual or collective gene activity conveyed across generational lines by epigenetic or dynamical means? Dr. Tariq in his talk explored the possibility of epigenetic variation generated due to changing intrinsic or extrinsic environment. He also emphasised that changing environment may lead to development of acquired characters through epigenetics which may be inherited across generations through epigenetic inheritance. He particularly talked about role of Heat Shock Protein 90(Hsp90); an environmental sensor in living cells in gene activation and silencing by interacting with proteins involved in epigenetic inheritance.
At the end of his talk, he also introduced SSE at LUMS as an emerging institute involved in multi-disciplinary research and gave an introduction to LUMS. The scientific community in the meeting highly appreciated the vision of SSE and the placements of SSE Biology students which was a surprise for all to achieve in less than 4 years of inception. Importantly, SSE students Zain Umer and Nimra Asi became major focus in the meeting because of their insight in diverse subjects which were being talked about and the ease with which they could grasp and discuss science. Both the students have left an indelible impression in scientific community at such young age and this was repeated by many Professors in the meeting, says Dr. Tariq.
Indian scientific community from TIFR, CCMB, IISc and other top places gathered in Almora welcomed possibilities of developing collaborations with LUMS-SSE and also talked about potential opportunities in Energy, Water and Life Sciences sectors. Scientist from all these places offered their facilities and expertise openly to help SSE achieve its objectives. Dr. Tariq believes that LUMS will benefit a lot from potential collaborations not only in Biology but water, climate, energy sectors due to similar socio-economic as well as geographical locations.