I am writing to apply for the Master’s program in Genetics and Molecular Biosciences, in which I am immensely interested. The program from one of the most reputable, elitist and revered universities is a chance to broaden my knowledge and professional prominence thereby contributing to the endless possibilities in research and development.Different realms of biological sciences and translational research have immense possibilities, but it is hard to comprehend a domain that shows significant promise as much as developmental biology will, in the decades ahead. Its the field of biology that studies the processes by which the genes of multicellular organisms regulate, monitor growth and proliferate. Knowledge of normal developmental processes is instrumental in the understanding of developmental malformations and other conditions such as cancer.My undergraduate program consists of four major modules: Mendelian genetics, molecular genetics, population genetics and applied genetics. Each module is structured in a way that gave me a distinct understanding of the holistic nature of genes. In my first year of studies, I understood the history and origins of the science of inheritance with special emphasis on medelism. By molecular genetics, I was able to understand the gene structure, function and regulation by using the principles of molecular biology. My final year of studies encompasses the genetic structure of populations and also the relevant applications of genetics in diverse fields like agriculture, industry and applied research. This intrigued and motivated me to transcend my love for genetics into another field of biology that would complement and give rise to new possibilities to understand the existence of gene orthologs that can help us solve existing biological problems with a fresh perspective. That is when I came across the model organism of Zebrafish. They are vertebrates and therefore share a high degree of sequence and functional homology with mammals, including humans. Since there occurs a conservation of cell biological and developmental processes across all vertebrates, it is safe to hypothesize that studies in fish genetics can give substantial breadth of view into human disease processes. My interest lies in the dopaminergic system of zebrafish and its possible application towards the studies and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. But to be able to do that, its imperative to have a profound understanding of the basic principles of molecular and developmental biology. This is why I decided to pursue a masters degree in developmental biology.The process of conducting research requires dealing with complex experiments and at times frustrating outcomes. Therefore, having the correct attitude and necessary skill to deal with challenging odds and situations is essential to ensure a positive result. In order to reach that goal, I believe that patience, creativity, and persistence are the pivotal qualities required of an individual. I have had the opportunity to learn and practice these skills during my undergraduate program in terms of coursework, two internships at academic research-oriented labs and other extracurricular activities.During my undergraduate studies, I gained research experience at two distinct institutions- Institute of Genetics & Hospital for Genetic Disease, Osmania University; and The University of Hyderabad at the end of my first and second year respectively. Institute of Genetics is one of a kind hospital in India which specializes in treatment in diseases of genetic origins. During my tenure here, I was able to learn and obtain hands-on experience in the methods involved in cell biology and genetics. I was also able to learn more about genetic counseling and mannerism required as a part of patient care. The research I was involved in led to the completion of a project thesis which gave me experience in terms of scientific writing, describing fundamentals, contemplating and correlating my results by reviewing the previous scientific literature on the topic.At the end of my second year, I received an internship opportunity at The University of Hyderabad, Department of Biochemistry. My main motivation behind taking up this project was to step out of my comfort zone. Even though my undergraduate program briefly touches upon the basics of biochemistry, I wanted to take this internship as a challenge to pursue something new altogether. While working there, I learned various aspects of biocatalysis and protein engineering by working on the cloning, extraction, purification, kinetics and characterization of the enzyme Hydroxynitrile lyases (HNL). Apart from being a part of the research of the lab, I was working on my attempts to culture and isolate HNL from the Acetobacter species, few strains of which have been reported as a potential source of HNL, but where the work done is yet to bear fruit despite several efforts in isolating pure strains for proper analysis. This has made me appreciate the need for having patience, being diligent and resilient which is needed to conduct the same experiment multiple times and the persistence needed to repeat experiments if certain aspects of the experiment need to be modified. Along with the technical skills, these research experiences have prepared me for graduate studies as it has allowed me to get involved in research discussions, sharpen my analytical competencies, improve my presentation and interpersonal skills, time management, learn teamwork by attending lab meetings and also be appreciative of the research work carried out by my peers and supervisors. Overall, I enjoyed both of my project placements thoroughly and they have provided the encouragement I needed to pursue a career in research.A few months ago, I was selected to attend a course on Glycoconjugates highlighting their role in biology and possible biomedical applications. Out of all the participants, I was the only undergraduate student selected to be a part of this course. It was jointly offered by The Department of Biochemistry, School of Life Science, University of Hyderabad, India under the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) of the MHRD, Government of India. The principal lecturer of this course was Prof. Kurt von Figura (retd), University of Gottingen, who is a pioneer in the field of glycobiology. It was a wonderful experience to be a part of a course that comprised of interactive lectures, tutorials and intensive lab sessions of international standard.The Genetics and Molecular Biosciences (GMB) masters program has a very focused curriculum, with a strong emphasis on learning in the context of ongoing research projects which not only focuses in depth on a particular subject track a student wishes to pursue but also aims towards providing great exposure to the wide variety of topics that fall into the common domain of biosciences. The elective courses in developmental neuroscience and pre-clinal models of neurological diseases directly align with my interests in neurodegenerative diseases and would help me conceptualize and evaluate the feasibility of my research ideas. The master’s thesis is like a perfect epilogue to the program’s teaching outcomes and is designed to provide a comprehensive but focused training in the most exciting fields of modern biological research. This masters program would be a conscientious step in direction of my future endeavors of doing good quality research. My coursework will teach me the basics of developmental biology and simultaneously reinforce my knowledge of genetics. But doing a research project, in the form of my master’s thesis, I will be able to demonstrate critically thinking, practical expertise and will be equipped with a mind to perceive research problems in abstraction and totality. It would help me acquire the transferable skills that would be nothing short of a gold mine for any researcher in their pursuits. After completing the master’s program, my objective is to seek a doctoral fellowship wherein I can research and identify more novel methods and treatments for diseases in the realm of developmental biology. Additionally, I want to share my experience and knowledge with the next generation of scientists who would be the front-runners in scientific advancement. Further, I want to build a strong publication record and an international reputation. By utilizing my doctoral experience, I can hone my research, leadership as well as administrative skills such as grant proposal writing and managing lab activities. Eventually, my ultimate career goal is to continue research after my Ph.D., as a faculty in academia. I aspire to contribute and develop animal models with augmented refinements so as to understand the origins and pathogenesis of medically important genetic diseases directed towards the goal of betterment of human health by the synergy between principles of genetics and developmental biology. I would like to carry out collaborative and transdisciplinary research with other labs. My emphasis on “trans” disciplinary is vital as I believe that the success of science is in extending the frontiers of its traditional disciplines. We have to seriously embrace the possibility of the emergence of new fields which are not governed by the existing knowledge we have about biological systems. In addition to research, I am interested in pedagogy. Another area where I see myself being involved is in scientific outreach programs for young children at high school level and to contribute actively in the popularization of science. This can be achieved by participating in the variety of conferences and workshops which are targeted to inspire, motivate and propagate research I strongly believe that its important for the general public to understand and develop a clear scientific temperament towards scientific research which would enlighten them about the importance of public health, climate change, and personal betterment.The University of Helsinki has the unique distinction of being at the forefront of innovation and producing quality researchers. The university has a rich history and the birthplace for notable alumni, like Artturi Ilmari Virtanen, Nils Kock, Jukka Jernvall, Ragnar Granit, Gustav Elfving and many more and is known in the world for the emphasis it lays on imparting high-quality teaching and research of a top international standard. Thus, University of Helsinki is my choice for graduate studies. I am very optimistic about my future prospects by being there. I hope to get an opportunity to meet some internationally recognized faculty from different areas of biological sciences and medicine. It would help me inculcate the practices and constituents that affect the atmosphere for innovation around the world.
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