Another semester has come to an end at University of Calgary, and this has been the most amazing semester of my time at university so far. I studied immunology, genetics, computer science, organic chemistry, and Health & Society/Bioinformatics (two half-semester courses).
While I enjoyed all the courses, Immunology and genetics were two courses that I found particularly fascinating. As a result, throughout the semester, I decided to learn about various genetics, immunology, and bioinformatics related research projects that were taking place at UofC. One that I found particularly interesting was Dr. James Wasmuth’s lab, which focused on pathogen-host interactions, specifically in parasitic helminths. I was very intrigued by this project, especially since it applied directly to what I had learned in immunology, genetics, and computer science classes this semester.
I find myself very fortunate that I will have the opportunity to be a member of this lab starting next spring as a summer student, where I will work towards finding genes in the parasitic helminths’ genome that code for molecules that share conserved residues with our cytokines, thus suppressing our immune response towards the pathogen. Identification of such genes in the genome will hopefully provide potential targets for pharmaceutical drugs.
Since this project involves analyzing sequences on genomes, an essential skill will be the ability to program. I am really looking forward to applying the computer programming knowledge I have acquired in the past year as a Bioinformatics student in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program.