“Science is never-ending”: Interview with Sebastian Falk

“Science is never-ending”: Interview with Sebastian Falk


When the first genomes of eukaryotes
have been sequenced the surprise was big that most of the DNA does not encode for
proteins, but is actually what we call that most of the DNA does not encode for
proteins, but is actually what we call
non coding. And from this fraction a
large portion corresponds to mobile
genetic elements or remnants thereof. non coding. And from this fraction a
large portion corresponds to mobile
genetic elements or remnants thereof. Small RNAs are important for
controlling the relocation or spread
within the genome. They basically limit the transposable
elements to where they are right now. This is in particular very important in
the germ-line, where reproductive cells are formed, because errors that occur in
the germline will be passed on to the next generation and
this can be very detrimental. In our group we are interested firstly
in how small RNAs are produced in cells and secondly how do they
elicit their function. The biogenesis of small RNAs involve
more than 30 factors. Insofar we only understand a few single
factors what their role and function is. We really want to understand the
interplay between these factors and how do these factors come together to
elicit their function. And how are they regulated. Enzymes need
to be tightly controlled They should only be active at a certain
location in the cell at a certain point in time. Only if you understand very precisely
how an enzyme or how proteins work you can also make use and manipulate
them even more precisely to ask other questions that you
couldn’t ask before. I am a biochemist and
structural biologist by training. We want to understand how proteins accomplish complex tasks within cell. Often you can understand problems
if you look at them very closely and with large magnification. In structural biology we try to
determine structures of proteins or architectures of protein assemblies in order to figure out
what they are actually doing. The fascinating thing is that nature
usually has come up with several
solutions for one and the same problem. E.g. genome defense systems are
already present in bacteria as they are in humans. They are conceptually very similar, but the mechanistic details
differ quite tremendously. The interesting thing is that if you
understand the system in one organism to try to understand the system in a
different organism and to compare it. So science is never ending.
Answers we find will generate more and more questions. Thereby you never stop learning.
You learn new methods and you always find
new questions to answer. At one point you find a question
that you find interesting Then it takes a long time to collect all the data and information you need
to answer this question. The most motivating moment is when you
have all the data together all the puzzle pieces in the end fit
together, make sense and you can answer questions.
This is really motivating for me. The same motivation comes from
the training of students. The same motivation comes from
the training of students.
To train students to become independant
researchers and they are able to To train students to become independant
researchers and they are able to make experiments and address questions
without actually needing you and they come up with results they
generated independantly that is also very motivating. Just follow what you are interested in. Try to find out what interests you
what motivates you. and what comes easy to you. I knew that science, chemistry, biology
came very easy to me. I knew that science, chemistry, biology
came very easy to me.
I didn’t need to study much and it was
very easy for me to understand. I didn’t need to study much and it was
very easy for me to understand. If things come easy to you, the chance that you will be successful
is very high. Especially if you enjoy what you
are doing. Just try to find out
what you really want to do.