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  • Writer's pictureGODVERSITY

Coded in Christ- Likeness

When we first purchase a smart phone, all of our settings and applications are the same. But as time passes, everyone’s phones will change drastically as we adapt them to our own individual needs and preferences. In the same way, our memories and life experiences are loaded into our brains, making one person unique from another.

Even the simplest experiences are altering our brains on a cellular level. Every time that we learn something new, our brain changes. Exactly how this information gets stored into our brains is still largely unknown — until now.

Every time you play a game of basketball, make a cup of coffee or flick on a light switch, you are turning on genes in your brain. These same genes typically are turned off when the activity ceases. But with every try, you make the task a bit more easier. Why? It is because with every attempt to do a task you are making memories, deeper memories. And these memories are being coded in your DNA. Sound strange? We thought so too. So how is this applicable to a gospel sharing organization like GODVERSITY?

Here are two ways we hope to help you find a blend where science proves our Christian faith and the Holy Bible.


Christian perfection is the name given to various teachings within Christianity that describe the process of achieving spiritual maturity or perfection. The ultimate goal of this process is union with God characterized by pure love of God and other people as well as personal holiness or sanctification. Various terms have been used to describe the concept, such as Christian holiness, entire sanctification, perfect love, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, the second work of grace, and the second blessing.

The study of biblical doctrine belongs right in the middle of the Christian life. It is

part of our worship of God and service to God’s people. Jesus commanded us to love God with our mind as well as our heart, soul, and strength (Luke 10:27).

All four are connected: the heart’s passion, the soul’s yearning, the strength God grants us, and the intellectual task of seeking the truth of God. This means that the study of biblical doctrine is an act of love for God: in studying the things of God, we are formed as worshipers and as God’s servants in the world. To practice Christian doctrine is to yearn for a deeper understanding of the Christian faith, to seek the logic and the beauty of that faith, and to live out what we have learned in the everyday realities of the Christian life.

All of that becomes richer as we gain familiarity with Christian teaching. Practicing doctrine is not unlike practicing the piano or going to basketball practice. The more we practice it, the greater is our semblance in Christ.

New pianists begin by becoming familiar with the instrument. Before they can play sonatas, they must spend a lot of time on basic exercises like running scales. New basketball players do not start with shooting three-pointers; first they have to learn how to dribble and how to run a play. Before playing a game, they must master rules and repeat basic drills until these things become second nature.

Only after much practice are they ready to play. Newcomers to the study of doctrine are in a similar position and need to spend time becoming familiar with the discipline of theology. It takes time and patience to learn how to practice doctrine well. Learning Christian doctrine is something like learning a new language: it takes time to learn the vocabulary and concepts used in Christian thought in order to understand what other people are saying. Along with this basic study, students of doctrine have to immerse themselves in the teachings of scripture, listen to the wisdom of other practitioners of doctrine throughout history, and pray for the insight and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

THE neuroscience RESEARCH

Hehuang “David” Xie, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, and his collaborators just published a new study in the journal Nature Communications.

In this study, Xie and his research team elucidated transcription factors and enzymes that control certain processes in the brain through the methylation of DNA.

With this new information, researchers will be able to learn more about long-term memory storage and the implications this may have for understanding Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders that result in memory loss.

“With each experience and learning processes, you have become programmed to become different people. It is fascinating to begin to understand how the learning process happens in the brain and how each new bit of information learned will make you a different you tomorrow,” said Xie, who is also an affiliated faculty member of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute.

Xie and his colleagues are meticulously looking at two components, Egr1 and TET1, which hypothetically team up to help us learn new things and form long-term memory. “Egr1 and the TET1 enzyme, it’s like a program that takes an input and stores it in your iPhone,” said Xie. In this case, the “input” is external sensory information and the “iPhone” is your brain.

Xie looked at their frontal cortices, the primary brain region where learning is stored and where the brain is the slowest to mature. The researchers used a mouse model to do more-striking observations like the knockout of genes.

Egr1 is a transcription factor, which is a protein that helps transcribe DNA into RNA. Egr1 plays a vital role in long-term memory formation, and previous research has shown that when the transcription factor is knocked out of a mouse, memory loss results. TET1 is an enzyme that is involved in active DNA demethylation. DNA methylation occurs when a methyl group is added to a DNA molecule, which then inhibits the promoter region of a gene. In other words, when DNA is methylated, genes cannot be expressed or activated.

Egr1 and TET1 are tasked with removing this methyl group so that gene expression can be activated and memories can be stored.

“There’s basically an ‘on’ or ‘off’ switch that controls our gene expression, or increases or decreases our expression levels. EGR1 is helping us to use this switching system so that when you receive an external stimulus, the genes will be expressed — and expressed more quickly. Now you’ve learned it; it’s already unmethylated, and now you can respond accordingly.”

Egr1 is a transcription factor, which is a protein that helps transcribe DNA into RNA. Egr1 plays a vital role in long-term memory formation, and previous research has shown that when the transcription factor is knocked out of a mouse, memory loss results. The image is in the public domain.

Researchers are seeing that this Egr1-TET1 team-up could be a mechanism for learning that extends past the brain. For instance, there are similar “family members” to Egr1 and TET1 in the blood.

In the immune system, memory B cells and memory T cells are key for creating and maintaining immunological memory. They have the ability to remember the antigens of past invaders so that the next time they are under attack, they can initiate a rapid immunological response.

This process points to the possibility that other organs theoretically may be able to form memories. The gravity of this finding is significant in terms of learning. Is there a possibility that learning can change for the better? Can we change the education system to enhance learning?

Those questions are for Xie and his research team to explore.

“There are a lot of these fundamental things that we don’t know. For example, the markers and the gene switches: How can we identify them, and can we use these switches? Can that be used to monitor some disease? Can that be used to monitor specific events? I think there are so many things that are coming to us, and we just need to think about what we can do right now,” said Xie.

For future research, Xie is interested in learning more about how different types of neurons use different mechanisms to respond to external stimuli.


CONCLUSION: I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. (Rom. 12:1–5)



Source: This research is a collaboration across many laboratories at Virginia Tech, including Liwu Li, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Science; Jinsong Zhu, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Alexei Morozov, an assistant professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics in the College of Engineering; Alicia Pickrell, an assistant professor in the School of Neuroscience in the College of Science; and Michelle Theus, an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. ONEdir Research Group. All rights reserved. No part of this presentation may be represented in any form unless approved in writing.


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