Last week, I had the chance to follow a scientific conference online. The topic was to no one’s surprise, the microbiome and the continuing efforts of research to understand how germs affect our lives. While the presentations and discussion offered some great perspectives and a few tidbits for future keynotes and lectures, I was amazed at how one particular suffix seemed to be mentioned ad nauseum:
For those who don’t know, the ‘ome (and its close cousin, ‘omics) in research refers to the entirety of a particular branch of science. It had a rather modest start, with the word that almost everyone knows today, the genome and the study of the genome, genomics. Back then, there was little fanfare; everyone was happy with the name and went about their lab work.
But for some reason that still befuddles me, other research streams decided to create their own version of a universal, all-encompassing word to describe their work. The protocol was easy: take the word that most easily describe the nature of the research and add either ‘ome’ to describe the subject or ‘omics’ to point out the research being conducted.
Almost as fast as Gangnam Style became a one-hit wonder, the popularity of ‘ome’ and ‘omics’ exploded. Don’t believe me? Check out the list of ‘omes.
As you can see, some are completely ludicrous. My favorite conflagration of logic is the Aniome, which is not a character in a Marvel superhero comic book, but instead the entirety of biologically relevant things in the universe. For those wondering, the omniome was already taken. However, there are some that have taken off and made their mark in the world. Some of the most popular ones include:
- Protein research, mutated to form the proteome and proteomics;
- Study of lipids – fat molecules – expanded to become lipidomics of the lipidome;
- All the sugars in the body, the glycome, is studied by glycomics;
- The nonsenseome, which isn’t the compilation of Jenny McCarthy‘s anti-vaccine messages, but rather the totality of non-mutated DNA in the body, studied as nonsenomics;
- And of course, the microbiological composition of a body or environment became the word I most likely tweet the most, the microbiome.
Of course, what would ‘omes and ‘omics be like without one to encompass the entirety of them? Yes, if you want to be the Ken Jennings of this part of the science knowledge base, you can focus on the omeome and study omeomics.
At first, I was completely against the whole ‘ome’ and ‘omics’ world but perhaps I’ve been thinking this all wrong. Maybe there is purpose behind all the ‘omics’ and ‘omes’ out there. Moreover, maybe I should embrace the concept and even come up with my own ‘ome.’
And I have…
For those of you who might believe this has more to do with the status of a piece of skin on a male phallus, think again. In this case, the gentillome refers to the union of beneficial pathways to improve health. The term etymology stems from the French word meaning kind: gentille; and there is a double entendre that is homonymous with another French term: gentille homme, or kind man.
What is the scope of the gentillome?
“The gentillome is the entirety of all processes,
whether they be biological, chemical, physical or metaphysical,
that are beneficial to life, the universe, and everything.”
That’s quite the statement, I know. But, when you’re making an ‘ome, you have to think vague and bold to start. But to give an idea of what might in the gentillome (provided that it has applied and proven itself to be so), here are a few examples:
- the influence of immune response to fatty acids in the gut produced by probiotics.
- the formation of electrochemical signals in the brain that make us giggle with joy.
- the smashing together of musical waves causing what’s known as harmony.
- the effect of meditation on the body.
- chivalry (as long as it’s not dead).
- and the all-encompassing joy of gathering together to achieve a common goal that improves all of our lives. Or as many like to call it, tweetups. Yes, every time you sit down for a pint to discuss the online discussions in person to improve our society in a grassroots way, you are demonstrating an act of gentillomics.
Of course, like many ideas, inventions, patents, and really awesome ideas brainstormed over a moment of boredom while scanning social media, the gentillome may not have much of a chance to survive. In fact, there is more likelihood that a new species of bacteria will be named after me. But, in some avenues of life and tabloid headlines, it’s not how long a particular idea lives, it’s who thought of it first that counts. I have made an official record of my claim as the first – and quite possibly the only – person to use the term.
I’d love to hear your ideas and whether you might like to learn more about the gentillome and ideas I have for research that may lie ahead.
Oh, and for anyone who is thinking of using the antonym to gentillome, the villainome, be aware, someone’s already on it. Shout out to ya, Patricia!
UPDATE: You can see another take on the ‘ome and ‘omics world at the Hashtags of the Week website. A great read I recommend.