On how Molecular Biology gives new answer to ancient problems Open Classroom New challenges of biology: from Neanderthals to the Prestige

On how Molecular Biology gives new answer to ancient problems

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Víctor de Lorenzo
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  1. Víctor de Lorenzo

    Nace en Madrid en 1957. Es profesor de investigación del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) en el Centro Nacional de Biotecnología de Madrid. Se doctoró en la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid y cursó estudios postdoctorales en el Instituto Pasteur de París, en la Universidad de California en Berkeley y en el Centro Federal de Biotecnología en Braunschweig. Ha desarrollado numerosas investigaciones sobre la utilidad de los microorganismos para la solución de problemas de contaminación, por los cuales recibió el premio Jaume I de protección del medio ambiente en el año 2000.

Molecular Biology is the science with a higher impact over the society of the change of millennium. If Physics and Chemistry by the end of the19th century and the beginning of 20th century set the basis for the explosive development of communications, drugs, and new materials that characterize our way of living, Experimental Biology is without doubt the frontier of knowledge of our time, and also the origin of the accelerated changes of our generation. As a matter of fact, Molecular Biology is already a referent of all discipline that address the living world: Botanics, Ecology, Zoology, Nutrition, Microbiology, etc., and of course Medicine and Agriculture. But this does not end here. The generalization of of the techniques and concepts of Molecular Biology is affecting decisively the basis of traditional Humanities. No psychologist, anthropologist, sociologist or archaeologist can ignore today what the Neurophysiology, the sequencing of the Human Genome, or Sociobiology tells us about man or society. These changes and their social impact have become exacerbated in the last ten years, and it is rare the day that the mass media do not reflect this. Recombining hormones, transgenic plants, in vitro cultivated tissues, prenatal diagnosis, the xenotransplantation, new anti-cancer therapies, the forensic use of the the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), are just a few examples of the products and techniques born out of Molecular Biology, and that are now irreversibly installed among us.

It seems that we have entered in a kind of schizophrenia where Society is eager to take benefit from the applications of science specially in the Biomedical field, but flatly rejects a change of vision about itself in regards to the results of research in the Sciences of Life. Nevertheless, there is still much to be learned from these debates, in the sense that they produce new questions and allow to capitalize for the research some of the methodologies coming from fields other than Experimental Biology.