Life: A Product of History

Registration: Open to all.
Date: September 24, 1999
Time: 11:00 am
Venue: Institute of Chemical Engineering and Technology, University of the Punjab, Quaid-e-Azam Campus, Lahore


Humans are endeavoring to know nature since their origin with the development of structurally complex, conscious mind and later with the development of tools. The tools enable us to explore the depth, in atom, on the one side and the vastness, of universe, on the other extreme. In earth’s history, polymerization of simpler organic compounds had formed macromolecules that developed the ability to reproduce its own kind by consuming raw material from the surroundings. Later the demarcation of the replicating matter with the emergence of membrane system permitted to discriminate in various chemicals to let pass or not pass though it. This further led to emergence of electrical and chemical messaging systems. These steps gradually originated life on planet earth. The development in the forms of matter, in time scale, indicates that the key to the changes in the form of matter is the adaptations it acquires to sustain it in the ever-changing surroundings (environment). The process of adaptations in the historical time factor is referred to as evolutionary development in matter. As life developed to more complicated forms, the ability to adapt is enhanced. This has resulted in emergence of a huge variety of the life forms in different environments. The above argument illustrates that sustainability (health) of a form can be understood on the basis of its structure and the performance by the structure for its keep up. The failure in functional capacity, undoubtedly, is due to a change in structural set up and this is referred as failure of sustainability (disease). In the organization of life, from atoms to molecules to macromolecules, to biomolecules, to cell organelles to cells to tissues to organs to an organism and ultimately to community, molecular understanding carries importance in health and disease. In recent times, it has been understood that life actually adjusts its sustainability or failure of the adaptations to survive at its basic organization level i.e. the molecular level. Therefore Human Genome Project, as we understand at present, has far more implication for medicine and biology. The molecular elucidation of basic language, on the basis of structural composition, of life and its expression enables us to provide technological support in sustainability of life. It has been well established, now, that in order to understand health and disease it is necessary to keep in view the molecular basis of the organization of life and its ability/failure to adapt in the changing conditions. The examples of sickle cell genes with resistance to malaria; bone formation diseases related with collagen; respiratory distress syndrome; arteriosclerosis resulting in coronary artery diseases; hirsutism i.e. masculinization in females; obesity etc. may be explained in the above context. It is also an essential attribute of knowledge to secure life in rapidly changing conditions on planet earth due to massive social production activity and to introduce is successfully on other celestial bodies.

Resource Persons:
Dr. M.A. Cheema
Department of Zoology, University of the Punjab, Quaid-e-Azam Campus, Lahore