Educational Questions & Answers

Career Opportunities In Biotechnology Research And Industry

Biotechnology uses living cells and materials produced by cells to created pharmaceutical, diagnostic, agricultural, environmental and other products to benefit the society. It is applied to living cells, with the possibility of producing from widely available renewable resources, substances and compounds essential to life. It is an interdisciplinary science encompassing not only biology but also other subjects, including physics, chemistry, mathematics and engineering. Specially designed micro-organisms are now used to produce a wide variety of drugs and other chemicals, to refine ores and clear up oil slicks. Crops too have been engineered to produce high yielding varieties. The science of biotechnology is also used to alter genetic information in animals and plants to improve them to benefits the community. Analysts predict that biotechnology will be one of the most important applied sciences of the 21st century. These advances in biotechnology have brought to market life-saving health care products and

microbial pesticides, disease and insect-resistant crops, additional energy resources, environmental clean-up techniques and more. It will also soon offer healthier foods.

Essential Educational Background:

A person wanting to join a course in biotechnology must have a background of science, though engineers are also preferred. Since the career involves research, one must have an academic bent of mind. A background of biology, chemistry, physics or agriculture would be essentially required. Some universities offer B. Sc in biotechnology, which could be joined after class XII. Five year integrated M. Tech course are also available at the IITs after class XII. To enter in the specialized field, one must be postgraduate level, although there are some undergraduate courses also.

At the post graduate level, one can do M. Sc or M. Tech in agriculture biotechnology, animal biotechnology, industrial biotechnology, environmental biotechnology and marine biotechnology etc. About 28 universities offer these programmes and admit science graduates through a Combined Biotechnology Entrance Exam conducted by the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The programmes are promoted by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India. Those who have done B. Sc in Physical, biological, agricultural, veterinary and fishery sciences, pharmacy, engineering, biosciences, technology or medicine can take this test.

Other universities and institutes offering courses in this field are:

* National Institute of Immunology,

* National Dairy Research Institute.

* Indian Agricultural Research Institute

* Indian Institute of Science

* Vellore Institute of Technology

* Amity Institute of Technology

* Institute of Bioinformatics & Biotechnology

* Rajiv Gandhi Institute of IT & Biotech,

* Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology and

* Institute of Clinical Research.

Another opting would be to go abroad. Biotechnology is at the forefront of research in developed countries and a number of institutes offer courses, providing manpower to research laboratories and biotechnology companies which have multiplied in recent times. Post doctoral study programmes are available for the researchers. The Ministry of Science and Technology awards the Biotechnology Overseas Associateships for advanced research in molecular biology, microbial genetics, gene therapy, virology, tissue culture, nano-biotechnology, marine biotechnology and so on.

Biotechnology as a subject has already been introduced in schools. At present there is a shortage of trained people in this field. The DBT is trying to promote the subject in schools and colleges. A short-term training for biotechnologists, who wish to work in the industry, is organized by Biotech Consortium India Ltd.

Career Opportunities:

The sector offers career opportunities both in research and industry. It offers excellent prospects, particularly in the area of medicine and agriculture. Employment opportunities exist in research, production and marketing in the areas of medicine and healthcare, agriculture, animal husbandry, environment and industry etc. The work of biotechnologists is essentially scientific and research-oriented. Main areas of work are production of various bioprocessed materials, marketing of biotechnology products and processes in various areas, research and bioinformatics application of information technology to the management of biological information etc.

Many of the entry-level biotechnology jobs are the first of several tiers within the same general areas of responsibility in various sectors viz. Research & Development, Quality Control, Clinical Research, Manufacturing & Production, Regulatory Affairs, Information Systems and Administration etc. There are number of avenues for post Graduates in biotechnology available in drug and pharmaceutical research, public funded laboratories, chemicals, environment control, waste management, energy, agriculture, food processing and bio-process industries. Most biotechnologist find employment on a large scale in research laboratories.

As a biochemical engineer, job responsibilities exist for the design and scale-up of processes, instruments and equipment from the laboratory through the pilot plant and manufacturing process. A biochemical development engineer is involved in new product scale-up, process improvement, technology transfer and process validation activities. He or she works with various departments to ensure that processes and designs are compatible for new product technology transfer and to establish future process and equipment automation technology.

Clinical laboratory science professionals, often called medical laboratorians are vital healthcare detectives, analyses that assist physicians in patient diagnosis and treatment, as well as in disease monitoring or prevention using sophisticated biomedical instrumentation and technology including computes. Under clinical research profession, job opportunities lies as clinical research administrator, clinical coordinator, clinical programmer, clinical data specialist, drug experience coordinator, clinical research associate, animal handler and animal technicians etc. in the process of new drug development and validation trials with the human volunteers involving medicos. Laboratories in public and private sector are attracting talents and engaging biotechnology graduates as biochemists and biotechnicians.

Opportunities exist as regulatory affairs specialist, who coordinates and prepare document prepare document packages for submission to regulatory agencies, internal audits and inspections. The job helps in monitoring and improving tracking and control systems and keeps abreast of regulatory procedures and changes. As a patent administrator, professionals are responsible for preparing and coordinating all procedural documentation for patent fillings and applications, assist attorneys with the drafting and editing of patent applications and collect and evaluates supporting data.

A Biotecnologist may work in government institutes and organizations, such as CSIR and ICAR Labs, Regional Research Labs, national institutes, institutes/ centres of excellence, DBT institutes and other academic science and technology institutes through sponsored projects. A post doctoral fellowship in specialized disciplines of biotechnology is also being supported through DBT.

A number of agriculture, dairy and horticulture institutes also exist which would employ biotechnologists. Some drug companies in biotechnology like Dabur, Ranbaxy, Hindustan Lever, Dr. Reddy’s Labs and Biocon etc. which have their R&D units would be another area for the qualified biotechnologists. A postgraduate joining a private sector pharmaceutical company can expect a salary in the range of Rs.12, 000 to Rs.20, 000 per month. Those employed in government research can get a start of Rs.10, 000 onwards along with government allowances.

Biotechnology Industry:

Biotech in India began during the mid-1980s and was concentrated within the large domestic or multinational drug firms. In 1986, the Government of India established the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) within the Ministry of Science and Technology. Several small biotech companies have been established since then. There were about 400 firms in India with biotechnology-related activities in 1995. This number has risen to more than 800. The Indian biotech industry employs more than 20, 000 people, which is estimated to grow to 50, 000 (research 50%, technical/ services 35% management 15%). A number of companies have entered the field, some with foreign collaborations, opening tremendous job opportunities. The sector players in the industry are not only using recombinant DNA technology but also applying biotechnology principles to various biotech-based areas viz. floriculture, tissue culture and industrial application of biotechnology like enzymes industry, fermentation & bio-chemicals etc. Several private industries viz. pharmaceuticals, breweries, sugarcane institutes and science foundations are working on various fields like new drug development, improved products and processes, new breeds, tissue culture, bio-pesticides and enzyme production etc.

Financial institutions, NABARD, IDBI, and IFCI have got together to facilitate technology transfer and financial assistance. Institutional support helps biotechnology industry to move forward through several concessions like rebate on import of raw material, machinery and monitory support to the organizations which are registered at Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Govt. of India. Biotech Consortium India Ltd is a prime mover in supporting and promoting projects in various sectors of biotechnology including consultancy and preparation of feasibility report. Public-private partnership has largely been realized in the sector, through which DBT is considering support to the biotech industry and firms through SBIRI scheme for new and improved product and process development. With the initiative of establishment of Biotech Parks in various states, engagement of consultants, firms, scientists and entrepreneurs is likely to come up in a big way through bioindustrialization for product promotion, export and revenue generation.

Summary:

Biotechnology is a young science with limitless possibilities. Since it is a new science, there is possibility of fruitful research which may yield benefits to the human race in times to come. It combines two or three sciences and is concerned with several fields like health and medicine, agriculture, animal husbandry, industry and environment etc. It is an emerging field all over the world, which will yield the wonder drugs of tomorrow as also new varieties of plants and animals. Since scientists can patent their innovations, the possibility of making a name and a large fortune is also not ruled out. This, the area is very exciting and has tremendous possibilities. The phenomenal growth of the biotechnology industry has also led to a number of highpaying opportunities.

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Career Opportunities In Biotechnology Research And Industry