Editorial Articles

Volume-04, 06-12 June 2020

Career Opportunities in Biotechnology

Arti S

Among science subjects biology has got its own importance and is included in almost all science courses up to the level of 10+2. Biology is a science that studies life and living organisms. In fact biology is one of the most important subjects related to living beings and organisms. It is a vast subject and has many extensions and branches. One of these is Biotechnology. Biotechnology can be explained as any technological application which makes use of biological systems and/or living organisms to make or modify products and processes for specific uses in various areas. It covers the use of microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast, biological substances like enzymes to perform chemical and industrial processes. In past 2-3 decades, biotechnology has grown much bigger in scope, offering extensive opportunities for study and research. Biotechnology in itself is a multidisciplinary subject with foundations in physiology, immunology, microbiology, genetics, biochemistry, chemical and process engineering among others. Biotechnology has made significant contribution in food production, medicinal search, and range of many life saving products such as vaccines, antibiotics and antibodies etc. In the matter of environment, biotechnology has brought many improvements in water and land conservation techniques and has helped reduce pollution.

What is covered under Biotechnology?

A typical Biotechnology course at graduation level covers applied microbiology, bio-crystallography, biochemistry, bio molecular modelling, bio photonics, bioinformatics, bioprocess engineering,, laboratory biotechnology, cell and development biology, structural biology , ,separation and analysis of bio molecular elements, chemical genetics and drug discovery, cell and tissue culture, chemical kinetics and drug design, clinical proteomics , computer applications and programming, gene regulation, genetic engineering, genetically modified organisms, molecular diagnostic and therapeutic biotechnology ,enzymology, immunology, molecular biophysics, microbiology, nano biotechnology, plant system physiology, viruses and human diseases, vaccine development and production etc.Specialised branches will be focussing on the particular branch in addition to coverage of common topics. Biotechnology is divided into three segments. The one dealing with medical processes is covered under red biotech. Creating antibiotics by use of organisms is a case of red biotech. Green biotech is related to agricultural processes. Developing transgenic plants is considered as an example of this. Blue biotech is applicable to marine and aquatic products. Depending on applications different branches of biotechnology have been developed. Students have option to take up a generalised course in the subject or pursue specialization in a particular branch. Some of the branches are Agricultural Biotechnology: Agricultural Biotechnology uses range of tools that alter living organisms or their parts, to make or modify products, bring improvements in plants and animals or develop microorganisms for agricultural usages. Agricultural Biotechnology Is used to bring quantitative and qualitative improvement in cereal, vegetable and fruit production. Many hybrid crops are being produced with the use of biotechnology. Industrial Biotechnology: Industrial Biotechnology is used to produce and process products which can help conserve natural resources. Bio-energy, textile, chemical and pharmaceutical products make heavy use of industrial biotechnology. This branch of biotechnology is also used in waste management which inter alia involves creating useful resources from waste. Food Biotechnology: Food Biotechnology has helped to produce nutritious food at lesser cost. Food that takes lesser land and water to produce is a major theme in food biotechnology. This technology is also used in preserving food, increasing its shelf life and make meaningful use of food waste. As demand for organic food items is picking up, this branch of biotech is capturing more attention.

Animal Biotechnology: This branch of biotechnology deals with animal reproduction, genetic modification in animals and their cloning, animal diseases and medication, increasing productivity of farm animals, animal vaccines and insuring good animal health. Animal Biotechnology has made significant contribution in farm production across the world. Available courses: Following is a list of courses offered in biotechnologyB.Sc. B.E B.Tech M.Sc. Integrated courses (BS MS/M.Sc. in Biotechnology) in which graduation and post-graduation are combined together. Ph.D. and post-doctoral courses Admission tests for courses in Biotechnology For admission to undergraduate courses at IITs, NITs and other centrally funded technical institutions, aspirants have to appear in Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) now conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA). For studying Biotechnology at postgraduate and doctorate level at certain IITs, the candidates are required to qualify in Joint Admission Test (JAM) conducted on behalf of IITs. Entrance examinations for entry to Biotechnology courses (all levels) at agricultural universities as enlisted by Indian Council of Agricultural Research, National Testing Agency (NTA) conducts a test on behalf of the council. IISER Aptitude test is for those seeking admission to BS-MS course at various centres of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research. Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi now organises Entrance Examination (JNUEE) through NTA to select candidates for admission to various courses at JNU including courses in biotechnology. . A number of private universities and engineering colleges have their own independent selection process Where to study for undergraduate courses, options available are degrees in the forms of B.Sc., B.E or B.Tech in biotechnology. A B.Sc. course usually takes 3 years and B.E or B.Tech may be completed in 4 years.  While a B.Sc. with biotechnology is widely available at universities and affiliated colleges, B.E or B.Tech in biotechnology is mostly offered at technological institutes.  IIT, Delhi Kharagpur has a B.Tech. course in biotech and biochemical engineering. IIT, Roorkee offers B.Tech.in biotechnology. Delhi Technological University, National Institute of Technology (NITs) with centres at Warangal Calicut, Jalandhar, Raipur, Rourkela, Ravangla(Sikkim), Yupia(Arunanchal Pradesh), and Government College of Technology, Coimbatore have a B.E. course in Industrial Biotechnology.

Anna University, Chennai has B.Tech. programmes in Industrial/ Food Biotechnology Pharmaceutical Technology and M.Techin Computational Biology/Food Technology. IIT, Mumbai and many other IITs conduct M.SC.in biotechnology and M.SC. Ph.D. dual degree programme. Many agricultural universities including Central agricultural universities have courses in Biotechnology. NIT, Surathkal and few other NITs, Delhi Technological University, Manipal Academy of Higher Education have M.Sc./M.Tech in Biotechnology. Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) with branches at Berhampur, Bhopal, Kolkata, Mohali, Pune, Thiruvananthpuram, Tirupatioffers 5 years integrated BS-MS programme inbiological sciences. Many more government universities have undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Biotechnology. Some of these are named below: Devi Ahilya Vishvavidyalay, Indore G B Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar Tamilnadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore Goa University University of Hyderabad Pondicherry University Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh Punjabi University, Patiala University of North Bengal, Siliguri University of Kashmir, Srinagar Kuvempu University,Shimoga University of Kalyani, West Bengal Jammu University North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong Ravenshaw University, Cuttack Gujarat University Ahmedabad Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, Srinagar, Uttarakhand Ranchi University, Jharkhand North Maharashtra University, Jalgaon Bundelkhand University, Jhansi University of Burdwan, West Bengal Kamraj University, Madurai Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi Karnataka University, Dharwad Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University, Bihar Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat Barakatullah Vishvavidyalay, Bhopal National and Regional bodies Department of Biotechnology of Government of India comes under Ministry of Science and Technology and has established the following for advanced research in various facets of Biotechnology: Regional Centre for Biotechnology, Faridabad: Established in 2010, the centre conducts master's programme, integrated master's and PhD programme in Biotechnology. A post-doctoral programme for scientists (already having PhD) is being run by the centre. Short term training programmes are also conducted from time to time. Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram: This prestigious institute is in existence since 1990. It conducts M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Biotechnology and also Ph.D.in Translational Science and Medicine. Post-doctoral programmes are available along with other training programmes in molecular diagnostics/forensic, computational biology, biotech instrumentation, biotech imaging etc. The centre is also engaged in a Biotech Skills development Programme.

National Institute of Animal Biotechnology, Hyderabad: This three decade old Institute is engaged in research for improving animal health and productivity .It conducts research in animal genetics and genomics, transgenic technology, reproductive biotechnology animal diseases, nutrition enrichment etc.

In addition a number of specialised research institutes have been established by the government as given below: National Brain Research Centre, Manesar, Haryana National Institute of Plant Genome Research, New Delhi Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar Centre for DNA Figure Printing and Diagnostics, Hyderabad National Centre for Cell Sciences, Pune National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi Institute of Bio-resources and Sustainable Development, Imphal, Manipur Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine, Bengaluru Transnational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad National Institute of Bio-medical Genomics, Kalyani, West Bengal National Agri-food Biotechnology Institution, Mohali, Punjab International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi Biotechnology Industry Research Council (BIRAC), New Delhi is actively involved in promoting and coordinating research in Biotechnology Public Sector Undertakings such as Indian Vaccine Corporation Limited, New Delhi and Bharat Immunological and Biological Corporation, Buland Shahr are two major ventures using biotechnology for health protection. Careers to look at Career opportunities in the biotechnology industry can be broadly classified into the sectors of Research & Development (R&D),  academics, production/manufacturing, Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC), marketing/management, technology procurement/transfer, management of intellectual property and regulatory affairs, technical writing, etc. Career opportunities under each category require generalqualifications along with sector-specific training and specialisation. Research: Council of Scientific and Industrial Research with Universities Grants Commission, twice in a year, conducts National Eligibility Test. Those found successful are considered eligible to register for Ph.D. and apply for Junior Research Fellowships .In addition to this , through Biology Eligibility Test (BET), biotechnology related research fellowships are also available.  Indian Council of Medical Research, Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Department of Science and Technology'sInnovation in Scientific Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) provide many research opportunities. Post-doctoral research opportunities are available with various autonomous bodies promoted by Department of Science and Technology and others. Research in biotechnology can also be pursued at multiple centres of Indian Institute of Technology (IITs). Biotechnology offers extensive research opportunities at foreign universities and institutes. DBT-JRF Programme is for providing fellowship to students for conducting research at universities and various research institutions across the country. Selection is made through online Biotechnology Test. Presently around 1000 students are enrolled under the fellowship. As a researcher you may also work with pharmaceutical, pesticides, paints, fertilizer companies

Academics: As biotechnology and related subjects are taught at large number of Indian and foreign universities, those interested in a teaching career have good opportunities. An academic career may also be undertaken at IISERs, IITs, NITs and various other institutes. A research qualification (Ph.D.) improves your chances to get an academic role at a premier institute. Jobs in manufacturing etc.: Biotechnologist may find industrial/production related jobs in various quarters. In India, students can mainly explore job options in the following fields: Drug and pharmaceutical research. Public and private laboratories, Chemicals industry, Environment control , Waste management , Energy , Food processing industries , Bio-processing industries , Agriculture, Dairy and Horticulture Bureau of Indian Standards also needs consultant for Biotechnology. Demand for organic food is driving biotech innovation. Bengaluru is an important centre for biotech start-ups. One of the start-ups here is involved in leveraging biotech to turn methane from waste to into monomers which become the building blocks of protein for various uses.

Present and future Prospects Like the IT sector, Biotechnology in India is also throwing up tremendous scope for growth and is contributing heavily to the global biotech market. The country has a global market worth of US$91 billion. There is scope for cheap R&D through bio-partnering and codeveloping technologies. More and more global pharmacy companies are seeking India to set their research and development centres here. According to a report in a leading financial newspaper, investments in biotech ventures both by established players and startups is rising continuously. Venture capitalists are taking huge bets on biotech startups worldwide. Global VC investments in biotech increased from 16.2 billion US dollars in 2015 to 28.78 billion US dollars in 2018.In India biotech revenues were 1.1 billion US dollars in 2005 which grew to 12 billion US dollars in 2018.Now it has grown even more. By making use of Biotechnology, a number of laboratories, research bodies and drug manufacturing companies are in the search of effective counter measure for the Corona virus.

Useful websites: www.dbtindia.gov.in www.nta.ac.in/ www.iiseradmission.in /www.birac.ac.in

The author is an academician email: artmumb98@gmail.com Views expressed is personal