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Sunday 30 April 2017
News updated at 10:01 AM IST

Biotechnology as a thriving career option

Interdisciplinary

A student wanting to take up Biotechnology can opt for a BTech degree that includes both biological sciences and engineering aspects.
If maths, technology, investigation and problem-solving skills are your forte, then a career in Biotechnology will surely appeal to you, opines Davinder Gill

As rightly stated by Mahatma Gandhi, “The future depends on what we do in the present.” Gone are those days when the decision of choosing a career path depended on our well-wishers. Today, the scenario has changed. If you are passionate about doing something, there are numerous options to fulfil your dream.

One such career option which students love but are worried to take up is Biotechnology. If you have a dream of making people’s lives better through research, then Biotechnology is the perfect field for you. Biotechnology is an interdisciplinary field that combines the science of biology with engineering and technology. It involves the development of products and techniques through the use of living systems and organisms.

Over the years, students have realised the huge potential of the subject as there is no other area where integration of physical and biological sciences is possible. The biological sciences aspect primarily consists of research and development which is usually carried out in laboratories.

Microbiology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Genetics are some of the many areas in which research is conducted. Trained biotechnologists with a deep understanding of biological systems coupled with robust engineering knowledge, skillfully work on manipulating biological systems (whether living cells or cell components) for efficient manufacture or processing of useful products.

The pathway

A student wanting to take up Biotechnology can opt for a BTech degree that includes both the biological sciences and the engineering aspect of the subject. Alternatively, s/he can also go for a BSc degree, which has biological sciences as a subject.

A lot of graduates finish a Bachelor’s degree, work as a research assistant at a biotechnology firm for one to two years and from thereon go to pursue an advanced degree. Acquiring a doctorate in a chosen subject further enhances one’s job prospects.

Since Biotechnology is an amalgamation of a number of disciplines, there is a huge demand for Biotechnology experts in numerous industries. As Multinational Companies explore new products and formulations, the biotechnology industry offers a wide range of career opportunities for the students in various departments such as:

n Research and development in academic, industrial and clinical areas

n Quality control in food and drink, chemical and pharmaceutical industry

n Process control

n Teaching

n Sales and marketing opportunities

Further, a student specialising in any of the subdisciplines of the subject can take up a job in private or government institutions. And, in any of these disciplines, students can hope to take up employment in the marketing, research and production departments.

Having said that, what is important is that a student needs to be aware of various prospects that the subject offers and choose the best suitable option. Moreover, in the past decade, the Government of India has established many reputed departments and institutions which conduct research in Biotechnology topics, further contributing to the rising popularity of the subject.

One of the major reasons why more and more students today should look out for a career in Biotechnology is that the life expectancies are increasing, resulting in a more ageing population and hence, putting more emphasis on healthcare. All these factors make Biotechnology a promising career choice.

Owing to the multifaceted nature of the subject, it becomes important that a student not only have an expertise in her/his own discipline, but also a deep understanding of the larger picture. Having the ability to work collaboratively with people, and specifically with those working in other scientific fields, will help in making sure that the desired success is achieved in this field.

If maths, technology, investigation and problem solving skills are your forte, then a career in biotechnology is sure to appeal to you.

(The author is CEO, Hilleman Laboratories, New Delhi)

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