Week 4: More on CRISPR/Cas and NovogeneAIT

This week we had a more in-depth look at the CRISPR-Cas system for the lecture. I think that it is very exciting when you realise that we are still at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding the role and functions of Cas proteins in bacteria. And yet we have already discovered Cas proteins that are able to not just produce a double-stranded break but produce a single-stranded nick and even sticky ends. Repeatedly, however, seems to be that the real bottleneck of this technology is managing the offsite targeting effects. This still leaves room for error and with regards to clinical therapeutics, this is definitely something that you would want to eliminate as much as possible. We are however in a time when CRISPR-Cas system gene therapy is likely to see way more applications, as scientists continue to understand the functions and possibly uncover more immunological defence systems in bacteria that may help us too. The assigned readings (and their diagrams) really helped me to understand the mechanism of the different Cas proteins because initially, it was difficult to conceptualise. And the lecture helped to consolidate my understanding by reiterating what I had read beforehand.

I must add that the guest tutorial by Novogene AIT was a good addition to the week as it fed my interest in the business aspect of biotechnology. It must be quite hard to “stay ahead of the competition” all the time and is probably not as simple as the speaker had made it be. Understandably there are probably some marketing strategies he is unable to reveal, even though I wanted to know how exactly do they have intel about the latest software, technology etc. Trend analysis is also something that interests me, so I was glad to hear about how they work towards trying to predict the needs of their clients beyond what they request from them, showing them that the company is able to provide more services (and at the same time making more profit!). The idea of master contracts is also pretty strategic, instead of just targeting individual labs. With Singapore being very small, however, I can see why geographic segregation is also necessary. This idea of a concerted effort really pays off, not just in business but in everyday life. It is not efficient to divide your energy in too many places. As a service provider company, working closely with government agencies/authorities is probably a good move too. In Singapore where the government nowadays concentrates its resources on a lot of data-driven projects, such contracts provide a lot of stability and reputability. Lastly, the speaker’s comment on being a service provider in today’s economy really struck out to me. Being someone who is currently thinking about having my own business one day, it was really relevant advice. With today’s sharing economy, being a service provider is very advantageous and this business model has a lot of potential given the right service in demand!

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We make this prayer in Jesus name, Amen.

Yesterday morning, as I was eating in the dining hall, someone came up to me and said hi. Here’s how that conversation went:

F: “Hey Jan, how are you? I saw from over there and saw you with your eyes closed for so long.”

J: “Oh, I was praying.” I smiled.

F: “What, oh sorry. Usually people pray really fast. Is there so much to be thankful for anyways?”

J:”…there’s always many things to be thankful for, especially for surviving this hectic week.”

H: “Yea, she always prays very long (before meals), and that’s a good thing.”

I’m really fortunate to be living in a time and place where I’m able to openly practice my faith. People in my RC, for the most part, are very understanding towards their Christian friends who say grace before meals. I guess the more you are around people of different race and religions you tend to become more empathetic when you understand their practices.

At the same time, I’m very fortunate to have meals with friends who say grace too, because I feel that our prayers together are so much more beautiful.

So whether or not you practice praying regularly, I just wanted to remind y’all that if you take time to reflect, there’s definitely a lot of things to be thankful for.

And there’s no need to rush through saying grace, you realise you’ll enjoy your meal a lot better.

May ripples make waves

Sunday marked the end of Project KaHU and it felt truly bittersweet. I was so relieved to have completed this 5 month journey of ups and downs. The final sprint was complete. And at the same time I know that I will really miss this batch of mentees and I can’t imagine how much we have impacted them, but I’d like to think that we made a difference even in the slightest.

This experience was a first for me. At the start, I was so overwhelmed and I kept telling myself, “This was not what I signed up for.” But I’m glad that I got to work with this KaHU team and I couldn’t have done it any other way. They pushed me to explore things I’d never imagined I’d do. And if you told me that I’d be in pulau ubin again, I’d never believe you. I’m happy and fulfilled with what we have achieved together.

Project KaHU 2018, signing out.

Snackeroonies: Lau Pa Sat and Spinelli @OFC

Today has been great; not that crazy productive but time was well-spent. Rest is good but time to hike it up a notch. Lunch was at Lau Pa Sat, Japanese udon and ramen!! Sweet udon is always better on a hot day like today. But the ramen was just as good too.

Afternoon coffee break was at Spinelli Coffee Roasters, the Ocean Financial Centre branch (10 Collyer Quay). It was so worth the effort walking around and getting lost. The coffee there is 10/10 and so is the customer service! If you’re looking for a place to sit after buying your coffee, you can head over to the seats across Spinelli (Daily Grind) because the cafe there is under Spinelli too. The place is really comfortable but can get a bit distracting especially once it hits the off-hours and everyone is heading home, and there are so many people in the lift lobby area where the outlet is.