2005-03-26

    Los últimos dos problemas

    Sydney Brenner and Francis Crick held a seminar [in Cambridge, 1963] for the eight brightest students of the year to persuade them to become molecular biologists.
    Brenner's pitch was this: "There are two great problems left to science. One is development and the other is consciousness. The reason that neither has been solved is that the people working on them are stupid. But now we have cracked the genetic code, we are going to finish them. Francis is going to take consciousness and I am going to take development. We will have them solved in ten years. Who wants to come along for the ride?"


    Helmintholog via Pharyngula
    I want to. Is it a problem that we are far over the 10 years Sidney predicted? ;-)

    Algunos dicen que esa cita revela la actitud prepotente del enfoque reduccionista con que empezó la biología molecular. Yo veo un entusiasmo desmedido ante un nuevo campo lleno de posibilidades. Y lo que sí es cierto es que tanto la biología del desarrollo como la neurobiología son los dos campos que más han crecido dentro de las ciencias biológicas, y siguen expandiéndose.

    Yo me he decidido por el primero de los problemas, el que Sidney Brenner apadrinó (en particular me interesa el paralelismo entre ontogenia (desarrollo) y filogenia (evolución), pero eso ya lo habréis notado si seguís mis historietas, y tampoco quiero hablar sobre mí ahora). Supongo que él aún no sabía que las mentes más brillantes ya habían tratado de resolver la incógnita de cómo se llega a un organismo adulto a partir de una simple célula. Darwin, Haeckel, D'Arcy Thompson por citar tres. Waddington, Bonner, Gould, por seguir el recuento. Que hasta ahora siga sin resolver, aún habiendo aplicado (y desarrollado) las técnicas más punteras de la biología molecular, dice mucho de la magnitud del problema.

    El otro también está lejos de estar resuelto. Y es que ambos tienen muchas cosas en común, desde el punto de vista teórico. Y ciertamente el reduccionismo no nos sirve de gran ayuda por sí solo. Pero el reduccionismo no es sólo pretender que los problemas complicados pueden resolverse si los reduces a otros problemas más sencillos; ese es el tipo de reduccionismo estúpido que desprestigia al resto. El holismo dice que el todo es más que la suma de sus partes y por eso estudia sistemas enteros como unidades. Eso también es una simplificación estúpida, en mi opinión.

    El reduccionismo por que yo abogo es un reduccionismo analítico, integrador. El todo será más que la suma de sus partes pero eso mismo es una propiedad, no de las partes, sino de cómo éstas interactúan. El primer paso para resolver un problema es identificar sus partes más sencillas de abordar experimentalmente, y después recorrer el camino inverso, analizando el conocimiento fragmentario obtenido y poniéndolo en su contexto.

    Siempre se ha criticado a la biología molecular de reduccionista, no porque el enfoque analítico (estudiar las interacciones moleculares para comprender el funcionamiento de organismos) sea el equivocado, sino por las limitaciones de la genética: el estudio de un gen cada vez. O unos pocos, si complicamos mucho el experimento. Pero, amigos, la era de la genómica ha llegado. Ahora es técnicamente posible afectar multitud de genes simultáneamente, a voluntad, y ver los efectos a escala genómica (expresión de genes con microarrays, por ejemplo).

    La era de la integración está al caer; pecadores "reduccionistas", arrepentíos.
    Yo le doy otros 20 años (lo suficiente como para poder llegar a catedrático sin quedarme sin "curro" por el camino; cualquier Nobel que caiga será agradecido, también)

Referencias (TrackBacks)

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Comentarios

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De: BioMaxi Fecha: 2005-03-26 03:39

Y con esto y un bizcocho, hasta el lunes, que yo mañana cojo un tren a las 7 y 8. ¿Mañana? ¡Qué carajos, dentro de 3 horas y media!

Mientras yo estoy en Maastricht y Aachen (la del tratado y la que fue capital de Carlomagno, respectivamente), os dejo esta ración de filosofía de la biología, el "espinoso" asunto de los morfotipos paralelos, y para que os relajéis un rato, no os olvidéis de fantasear con la médula del tiranosaurio.

A pasarlo bien se ha dicho.

PD La galería de Maastrich es flash y está en holandés. Ya lo siento, pero ye lo que hay.



2
De: mewt Fecha: 2005-03-26 10:06

Geen probleem! En heb en prijs weekend!

Y yo paso de fantasear con tiranosaurios, prefiero irme a Luxemburgo! :-P

PS: Yo tengo por ahi un puñado de fotos de Maastritch (las que hizo un amigo, yo sigo sin digital), cuando vuelvas si quieres te paso alguna para que la subas por aqui... la pena es que el dia que fui yo estaba todo nublado y gris. Espera, en Holanda siempre es asi, que demonios ;-)



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