I was a dismal student when it came to the sciences. I was dull in Arithmetic and Mathematics, Algebra or Geometry. I barely passed Physics and Chemistry. But if there’s one branch of science that sparked my interest, it was Biology, the study of living things. Plants, insects, animals—they were something that my non-linear mind could grasp, not abstract theorems, axioms or formulas.
My interest in biological matters was rekindled when I read a book entitled Lives of A Cell written by Dr. Lewis Thomas, a research pathologist, physician, poet, etymologist, essayist, administrator, and educator who died in 1993 at age 80.
His first book, a bestseller, hooked me. It is so readable, even for science-phobic people like me, because it is written in his own inimitable simple, elegant and poetic writing style. I couldn’t get enough of it.
Later, I bought the author’s two other books Medusa And The Snail and The Late Night Thoughts On Listening To Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. They got me deeper in love with the world of living matters. Just from the title of his third book, you would get a sense that Dr. Thomas is not only a physician and researcher, he is also into music, and other arts. It’s not surprising that he was convinced that medicine is “a hybrid of science and art.”
Calling himself a “biology watcher,” Dr. Thomas has been able to share his fascination with the endless secrets of nature through his writings. His vision of the world is one of symbiotic cooperation among the species. He believed that nature is essentially benign.
My take home from reading his highly engaging books is that study and practice of medicine should put more focus on biology because by harnessing the secrets of nature, we can discover surprising and serendipitous solutions to many of the diseases that have hounded mankind since time immemorial.
For instance, we can learn much from animals, insects, and plants that can help foster better immunity, develop sturdier bones, enhance mental health, and improve longevity.
Perhaps we need to adopt the attitude of an artist in promoting and maintaining the health condition of the human body. That’s because an artist is focused on creation not destruction. So, in the same way, medical researchers and medical practitioners need to be pro-life, even towards disease carriers.
Consider micro-gens and micro-biotics such as bacteria, germs and viruses. Instead of devoting and dedicating much time and money on killing them, why not find a way to transform them into “positive” agents of health. I long to see the day when cancer viruses can be morphed from malignancy into something more beneficial to the body.
If we can grow so called pro-biotics to nurture gut health, why can’t we change the configuration of parasitic microgens and make them allies of our bodies. I call this symbiology. Living in harmony with life’s elements. That way we can do away with dis-ease and bring in pro-ease.
I was watching this neuro doctor who was talking about regenerative cells that can repair some of the damaged wiring of the brain related to neurological diseases such as dementia, parkinson’s disease and others.
Apparently, the brain can regenerate itself.
This is where we should now focus on. Rewiring, recalibrating, reprogramming and regenerating cells in the human body.
Giving old cells a new role, infusing new cells to spark new growth, and so on.
This is where biomedical research should look at animals and see how they do these biological “miracles and wonders.
Biology has lagged behind.
So focused are we in killing, exterminating, eradicating living organisms that are the cause of many diseases.
What if we can live with them, learn from them, and live side by side on a win-win interactive, interconnected relationship?
So many of these living organisms that remind us how little we know about nature.
As a species we are still too young and too juvenile to be trusted. We have spread across the face of the earth on just a few thousand years, covering all livable parts of the plant, endangering other forms of life and now threatening ourselves. As a species we have everything in the world to learn about living.
It is a living system, an immense organism, still developing itself, making its own oxygen, maintaining its own temperature. Keeping all its infinite living parts connected and interdependent, including us. There is everything in the world to learn if we can learn not to meddle and not to destroy.
Instead of investing in arms to destroy each other, let us invest our GDP in biological research.
Now biology has branched out into various fields of specialization such as biomedical science, biochemistry, biopaleontology and others.
I am all for biological research as long as it is always undergirded by heart and humanity and the interconnectedness of nature. Let us not forget that the accent should be on bio not logy.
One promising area is pre biotics that support the cells’ ability to renew their powerplants, the mitochondria, during the aging process. Other research is into cell regeneration in the brain, which can benefit those afflicted with dementia. Apparently, the focus is on reconnecting cells that provide insulation.
A reverence for the natural world was the foundation of education. Dr. Thomas loved trees, and in one of his poems wrote: “Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.”