Exploring More about Bioinformatics: An Interview with Prof. Arli Aditya Parikesit

By: Ayumi Marsella (BM 22)

Bioinformatics is a field of study where biology and computer science meet to analyze and interpret biological data such as the sequence of DNA and protein, and it is now widely used in various research fields such as drug or vaccine development, personalized medicine, and analyzing large datasets. Recently, i3L has welcomed its inaugural professor in bioinformatics, Professor Arli Aditya Parikesit, who often goes by Prof. Arli. In this article, we will delve into the field of bioinformatics along with Prof. Arli and learn more about his journey and some of his work.

Since high school, Prof. Arli has been very interested in computers and programming and even was planning on applying to a computer science major for his university. 

“I planned to apply for the computer science major at Universitas Indonesia. However, I did not, since I realized that my math was not that strong back then. Thus, I applied to the chemistry department with biochemistry streaming in Universitas Indonesia for my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.” 

However, as a biochemist, Prof. Arli realized that there were lots of problems in biochemistry that could be solved with the help of a computational program. Which then led him to apply for his Ph. D. at Leipzig University, Germany from 2009 to 2012. 

Prof. Arli is currently working in structural bioinformatics which focuses more on the structure of certain molecules that can be further processed into designing novel drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics. This field of bioinformatics strongly overlaps with other fields such as biomedicine, and pharmacy, as well as the medical field. Besides structural bioinformatics, Prof. Arli is also very interested in viruses, which has been his focus since his master’s degree, and he also contributed to several research projects involving AI with other research teams.

Nowadays, bioinformatics is a hot topic in Indonesia’s pharmaceutical science, since Indonesia’s genomic project for personalized medicine, which is a medicine that is personalized based on each individual’s DNA sequence, is slowly becoming a trend. Prof. Arli himself sees this as a huge opportunity for bioinformaticians and other life sciences fields.

“Bioinformaticians will be needed in this field of work (Genomic project in Indonesia), and this project can be applied in many kinds of medicine, from cholesterol to cancer. Especially because cancer has been one of our major concerns.”

Prof. Arli also left some messages for students out there who are interested in learning bioinformatics.

“Have fun! For people who want to join bioinformatics, make computers and AI your allies, and learn bioinformatics because you are interested in the field. Do not worry about the specific skills that you will need later on as someone will teach and guide you through it. Also, I’m encouraging you to have self-confidence and pride in being a bioinformatician, a biomedical scientist, a pharmacist, or whatever field you are interested in.”

Before the interview ended, Prof. Arli shared one of his goals with us, which is getting one of his and his team’s inventions to be commercialized.

“One of my goals would be to get one of our inventions to be commercialized, in the meantime, we do have some IPRs, but there have not been any commercialized inventions. I see that this will be a great experience, and also our ambition. We are currently working on CRISPR diagnostic in lung cancer from the team from the biomedicine department in i3L, Mr. Rio and Ms. Eliz. So hopefully, when we meet again, we will already commercialize something.”

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