Molecules are the machines of life. Biomolecules include DNA, RNA and proteins. Back in the 1980's, life science disciplines that studied these biomolecules were restricted to select research laboratories. Today, the names of the biomolecules and events surrounding their development and use has become common public knowledge, with the latest developments routinely covered in daily newspapers. The impact from the biomolecular revolution is regarded as one of the greatest technological revolutions in world history that will likely span many more decades to come. We are in a golden age for biology, and never has the pace of research and development in the biomedical sciences been so intense, in all of human history. The biomolecular revolution will ultimately provide human beings the capability of manipulating life at its most fundamental levels, from producing bioengineered tissues/organs to controlling life itself.
How did the biomolecular revolution start? What is the key technology drivers behind the revolution? What could be the impact of the revolution to our lives? This module is designed to provide a forum for discussing these issues and an opportunity for students to gain insights into the principles of genetic manipulation/cloning/stem cells/synthetic biology and to recognize their applications, mainly in biomedicine. Particularly, the module aims to help students develop a fact-based understanding of potential benefits and risks associated with the biomolecular revolution and increase the awareness of the ethical, legal and social issues that may arise, to prepare ourselves for a changing future.