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					Careers in Biotechnology

Dr. C. K. RAMESH Head, Dept of Biotechnology Sahyadri Science college Shimoga. ckramck@yahoo.co.in

What is Biotechnology?
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Any technique that uses living organisms or substances from those organisms, to make or modify a product, to improve plants or animals, or to develop microorganisms for specific purposes
(Office of Technology Assessment, United States Congress).

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It is the study of direct manipulation of biological life at a fundamental level to produce substances useful to humans.

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To elaborate a little further, it is a research oriented science, a combination of biology and technology covering a wide variety of subjects like genetics, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, virology, chemistry and engineering and many other subjects like health and medicine, agriculture and animal husbandry, cropping system and crop management, ecology, cell biology, soil science and soil conservation, bio-statistics, plant physiology etc.

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Often, biotechnology can provide cleaner, cheaper and lower, energy way of doing jobs that were previously carried out in chemical factories, manufacturing or agriculture. Biotechnology is as old as human civilization and has been an integral part of the human life. Many scientists use the term old or traditional biotechnology to the natural processes that have been used since many centuries to produce beer, wine, curd, cheese and many other foods. The new or modern biotechnology includes all the genetic manipulations, cell fusion techniques and the improvements made in the old biotechnological processes.

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From healthcare to animal husbandry, biotechnology finds application in every area of life. “The best part of working in this field is that you can make a difference to people’s lives,” says Ravi Dasgupta, head, human resources at Biocon, Bangalore. This field is poised to touch the Rs 20,256 crore mark by 2010. Experts predict that by 2012 the industry would require at least 10 lakh qualified biotechnologists.

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It is also called a technology of the future or technology of tomorrow because of it’s unprecedented impacts on the human mankind and the universe as a whole. Due to it’s interrelation with other fields such as industry, agriculture, computers etc, it is going to create amazing opportunities for manipulating the biological systems and thereby understanding the mysteries of fundamental life processes. It is needless to emphasize that it is also going to offer tremendous career opportunities not only to the youngsters pursuing courses in biotechnology but also to the students of various related fields.

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Applications of Biotechnology In various fields/areas:

Agriculture

Development of crop, fruit varieties with higher yield great resistance to stresses and higher nutritional value, increasing efficiency of nitrogen fixation in plants, Vaccine production from plants.
Animal Husbandry Development of improved breed of animals with higher milk production, Higher animal productivity and with other desirable characteristic, animal feed, embryo transfer, developing vaccines etc. Health care (Medical Biotechnology) Development of genetically engineered vaccines, DNA Fingerprinting, immunodiagonstic Kits for early detection of diseases, Gene profiling, antibiotics, Skin grafting etc. Energy Sector Production tissue cultured biomass, biogas production.

Industry Industrial Biotechnology has a wide range of application, such as extraction of metals by microbial methods, enrichment of ores etc. It plays a vital role in food processing and beverage industry, etc. Generation of new classes of pharmaceuticals, polymers, enzymes and many other chemical products. Aquaculture and Marine biotechnology Transgenics, Fish production, Bioremediation, conservation, sea weeds culture etc. Environmental Biotechnology Biodegradation of xenobiotic compounds, Bio-mining, Restoration of denuded areas, Bio-sensors, processing of wastes, Composting, Anaerobic processing, etc. Bioinformatics

ONGOING BIOTECHNOLOGICAL PROJECTS AND AREAS OF RESEARCH

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The biotechnology is going to play a major role in the following areas of research and technology: Production of bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers- this will reduce the dependency on chemical pesticides and will safeguard the environment. Production of photosynthetically efficient plants- this will solve the relevant energy related issues. Production of transgenic animals as bioreactors for producing valuable drugs- This area has generated a lot of debate as there are concerns regarding the interaction of these transgenic animals with the environment and the consequences under certain conditions e.g if these undergo spontaneous mutations. Human Gene Therapy- excellent alternative in medicine to cure certain diseases at genetic level. Production of plants resistant to herbicides, viruses, insects and other pests- This approach will not only reduce the indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides but will increase the crop productivity as well. Production of diagnosis kits for toxoplasmosis identification. Production of monoclonal antibodies for organ transplant tissue typing- This will help to reduce the failure rates of graft/tissue rejection.

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Production of human interferons microbiologically. Production of human insulin microbiologically- an alternative treatment for diabetics. Production of xanthan gum in oil fields for enhanced crude oil recovery. Microbiological upgradation of hydrocarbons. Production of ethanol by continuous fermentation. Bioprocessing alkenes to valuable oxides and glycols. Production of fructose using inexpensive forms of glucose. Improved production of Vit B12. Developing immobilized cell and enzyme systems to use in chemical process industries. To use genetic engineering for constructing organisms with desirable traits for their use in specific industries. Genetical improvement of pharmaceutical microorganisms.

Opportunities in Biotechnology
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Communications/media - reporting, writing, editing web site development Computers - data base development, bioinformatics etc Drugs and Pharmaceutical companies Engineering -working in bioprocess chambers, Instrumentation development, Fermentation technology Research Laboratories funded by public and private sectors Environment : Waste management, bio-monitoring bodies and pollution control boards Medicine - The medical genetics, genetic counseling, gene therapy and gene testing uses biotechnological tools. e.g. cancer, genetically linked diseases, AIDS Energy Institutes

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Food processing industry Bio-processing industry e.g. enzyme technology, paper technology, metabolic engineering, protein engineering etc Agriculture and animal husbandry Legal field involving issues related to intellectual property rights, patency, copyrights related to the field of biotechnology. The issues related to Genetic and Paternity testing also requires the combined expertise of biotechnologist and a law expert. Military - With the fear of Biological warfare looming large on the human civilization, a biotechnologist is needed in pathogen identification, in the development of protection against the chemical and biological warfare, and in doing the risk assessment studies Crime and law - With the use of DNA finger printing in Forensic science it has become easy to create a data bank of the criminals and thereby catch the culprits faster

Jobs in Biotechnology
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Analyst Bioinformatician Biostatistician Corporate executive in Biotechnology company Environment/safety specialist Marketing manager Production in-charge in the Food, Chemical, Pharmaceutical Industry Quality Control officer Research Scientist in University, College, Research Institutes, Private centers Science writer Lawyers in corporate sectors and biotechnological companies Medical nanotechnologists

Professional courses in Biotechnology
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B.Tech. in Biotechnology (Bachelor of Technology) P.G. Courses in Biotechnology (Post Graduate courses)
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a) M..Sc. in Biotechnology (Masters of science in Biotechnology)

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b) M.Tech in Biotechnology (Masters of Technology in Biotechnology)
c) M.Tech in Biomedical engineering

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Ph.D and Post Doctoral research in Biotechnology

TIPS FOR A GREAT CAREER IN BIOTECHNOLOGY

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As biotechnology is a multidisciplinary subject, it is advisable to pursue a cross-disciplinary education. The students can opt for different subjects, keeping in mind the area of biotechnology that they want to pursue later on. E.g, a combination of subjects like computers and life sciences can later on help in taking up the field of Bioinformatics. It is also advisable to gain work experience in the field related to biotechnology during the undergraduate or post graduate courses especially through internship or volunteer work. The aspirants can join an active research group working on a particular field/ or a private company (Pharmaceuticals, food etc) or work with a specific project. One can associate with the organizations working in this field e.g. IUCN, WHO etc also. This work experience will fill the gap of hands on practical laboratory experience and the study of theory. The candidates will also be able to choose clearly their area of interest for higher research.

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Eligibility
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For undergraduate courses: Science student with mathematics / physics / chemistry / biology or agriculture. For post graduate courses : B.Sc. or B. Tech. in Sciences, / Marine biology / Animal husbandry / Veterinary sciences / Agriculture / Biomedical engineering/ Biotechnology. To become a biostatistician, one can combine a master’s degree in statistics with biotechnology. To enter in the field of “Bioinformatics” one should have a degree in computers or biometrics.

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Biotech Companies in India
• • • • • • • • • • A.V.Thomas Biotechnolgy - Commercial plant tissue culture laboratory Amersham Biosciences - Focuses on disease research, and drug development AstraZeneca - Research on infectious diseases and drugs Avestha Gengraine - Bioinformatics research and development Bangalore Bio - Resource on biotech companies, institutes and policies Bangalore Genei - Manufacturer of reagents and equipment for DNA research Bigtec - Bioinformatics and medical informatics research Bio-Instruments - Distributor of biotechnology and agri-research instruments BioSoft - Application of biotechnology in acqaculture management Biotech India - Molecular biology, immunology and cell biology research products

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Greenearth Biotechnologies - Tissue culture research and plants supplier Growmore Biotech - Commercial plant tissue culture Harrisons Malayalam - Plant tissue culture & exporter of flowering plants Hitech Bio-Services - Maintenance services for biotechnology instruments Honey Bee - Newsletter on grassroot level biodiversity innovations Indfrag Biosciences - Herbal extracts manufacturer Metahelix Life Sciences - Research in life science informatics and genomics Microbax - Producer of lactobacillus sporogenes Millipore India - Biotechnology research and therapeutic drugs manufacturer

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Monsanto India - Developer of biotech products like seeds & herbicides
Novozymes - Enzymes and biocatalysts producer

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Hindustan Lever Ltd. Thapar Group Indo-American Hybrid seeds Biocon Hindustan Antibiotics Tata Engineering Research Institute Dr. Reddy’s laboratory Reliance Shantha Biotech

Top leading Biotechnology Companies of the World

a) Amgen, USA b) Genetech, USA c) Serono, Switzerland d) Biogen Idec, USA e) Genzyme, USA f) Chiron g) Gilead, USA h) CSL, Australia i) Cephalon

Leading Universities/Institutes which transformed biotechnological research into commercial enterprises

a) Massachusetts Institute of Technology b) University of California c) Stanford University d) Univ. of Florida e) Univ. of Minnesota f) Brigham Young Univ. g) Univ. of British Columbia h) Univ. of Michigan i) New York University

Nature of Work in Biotechnology
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It is mainly a research based field with lots of scope for research in the areas of medicine, agriculture, pharmaceuticals etc. A biotechnologist also can work in a pharmaceutical company which can engage him for research work or development of new drugs based on the principals of biotechnology. There is also scope for him in the field of marketing of biotechnological products. The area of research is very lucrative as there is lot of public funding available nowadays. Also a biotechnologist can earn good money from the patency rights of various products and processes. In the area of medicine and health, biotechnology is being used to improve the diagnosis methods, discover and develop new medicines for diseases like AIDS, cancer etc. A variety of new vaccines are also being developed for diseases which are now cause of concern in the world over e.g. some of the viral infections prevalent in tropical countries.

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A biotechnologist can work in the area of agriculture and animal husbandry where one can work on the improvement of agricultural output using tissue culture, checking the soil imbalance, improving the animal species using genetic breeding. Research is also on to develop environmentally friendly biochemicals and bioinsecticides. Besides this a biotechnologist can give authentification and do the testing of consumable items and skin products. A biostatistician is also a lot in demand in this field. Another area which is fast merging and has an important role to play in biotechnology is the field of legal characterization and formulations of law pertaining to Intellectual property rights, Patents and Patency law, copyrights etc of biotechnological products. Hence a lawyer with an understanding of biotechnology and having a specialization in this field would be in great demand in the years to come.

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Problems/ drawbacks in pursuing career in Biotechnology

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A disadvantage which some of the people aspiring for career in Biotechnology suffer is, that there are not very many openings and jobs for undergraduate degree holders. The undergraduate degrees do not provide any training in research methodology and generally the emphasis remains on research in theory form. Due to the lack of on hand laboratory training, the students are not trained enough to carry out meaningful research and laboratory experiments. The practical knowledge is a must for carrying out research. Hence the undergraduate courses should be designed in such a way that the students get enough practical experience and sufficient training in research methodology. There are very few companies which take graduates with no research experience. The remuneration offered at this level is also low. Therefore most of the students are left with no option but to go for post graduate courses. The post graduates and doctorate holders have a very bright future with numerous pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology research organizations etc. As these Institutes and organizations have lots of grants and easy flow of funds, this helps them to carry out their work in the field of their choice, which in turn gives job and personal satisfaction.

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Genetics

Genetics
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Genetics is 20th century science, which has transformed the ancient craft of genetic engineering into a modern science based technology. It is the science of heredity that attempts to explain how characteristics are passed on from one generation to the next. It makes use of materials provided by nature, uses specialized knowledge and purpose-built tools to modify them in particular ways and then assembles the pieces to make the final structure. The genetics engineer hopes to provide society with a vast range of innovations such as more effective and cheaper pharmaceutical products, more abundant food products, new approaches to the generation of energy, the recovery of resources, pollution control and the diagnosis and correction of genetic disorders.

Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics

Bio

Informa

Tics

Systematic study of biological information with the help of information technology

Bioinformatics is all about finding the algorithm for better and faster analysis of life science data

Two main divisions of Bioinformatics

1. Developer : Needs better computational skills and programming logics
2. User: Needs better biological knowledge and interpretation skills.

Important areas in Bioinformatics

Genomics

Structural Genomics Functional Genomics Comparative Genomics

Proteomics

Transcriptomics Metabolomics Systems biology

Need of Bioinformatics in Biotechnology

Data management : Needs databases, Data management skills, Search engines. Data management gives the backend data to an analyst.

Data analysis : Needs algorithms, Tools. Analyst will design an experiment, there by accelerating the pace of research.

More than Rs. 300 Crores are likely to be invested in next three yrs and 60 Biotech and Bioinformatics companies are expected to start in Bangalore.

India wants to be the biggest bioinformatics hub in Asia.

Bangalore is a preferred destination for Bioinformatics start-ups. - Biospectrum
In Karnataka, Bioinformatics is a key growth sector in the Knowledge segment. The global Bioinformatics market is currently pegged at $2 million. It is estimated to grow to $ 60 million by another couple of years. India's share in the market is 5 percent.

Bioinformatics Companies
GVK BioSciences Pvt. Ltd,
AstraZeneca, Ingenovis (division of I labs) Landsky Solutions Ocimum Biosolutions Questar Bioinformatics Spectramind Services Q3 Technologies Ltd

Strand Genomics,
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Jubilant Biosys Molecular Connections PrayogNET Computing Satyam Computers Total Consultancy Services

To be a Bioinformatician…………………

Ideally, a student should have sound knowledge of molecular biology, a passion for life sciences and an inquisitive mind. Apart from this, he or she should possess: 1. Knowledge of UNIX/Linux the operating system used for many computational biology programs. 2. A good grasp of the concept of relational databases, which are the heart of Bioinformatics. 3. Programming languages such as Perl or Python, which are popular in the field of bioinformatics. In the future, knowledge of object-oriented databases may be increasingly important. 4. Expert knowledge of sequence-analysis programs like BLAST is critical. 5. Web skills are necessary, including the ability to write Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

There are multiple opportunities.

Technical developments such as molecular genetics, proteomics and metabolomics provide the analytical base to support the advances in life sciences, but there is a demand for novel automated tools to reduce the time involved in the discovery life cycle.

There is a shortage of individuals, though critical for the future, with the necessary multidisciplinary expertise for the development of genomic/analytics applications that demands a high level of knowledge/interpretation skill beyond that previously employed in the information technology sector.

Global Bioinformatics Companies
Strand Genomics SysAriss Software

Ocimum BioSolutions Manvish Infotech BrainWave Bigtec Avestha Gengraine

Metahelix Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd INDGEN Life Technologies Pvt. Ltd. GENBIOS

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Postgraduate M.Sc./ M. Tech teaching programme The post graduate courses were initiated in 1985 in six universities in close collaboration with University Grants Commission, ICAR and Department of Ocean Development. Keeping in mind the demand for trained manpower in specific areas and regional aspirations, these programmes have been expanded in over 70 universities in general, medical , agricultural , marine , veterinary , industrial and pharmaceutical biotechnology. The Department is also considering to initiate new programmes in food & nutrition, clinical pharmacology and product development, bio-instruments and biomedical standards, bioenterprise management and financing, regulatory affairs etc.

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Details of ongoing teaching programme:
35 M.Sc courses in general biotechnology 13 M.Sc courses in agriculture biotechnology 6 M.Tech courses in biochemical engineering, bio process technology and biotechnology 3 M.Sc (3/2 years) courses in neurosciences 2 M.Sc courses in marine biotechnology 2 M.V.Sc courses in animal biotechnology 2 Masters in molecular and human genetics 1 M.Sc course in medical biotechnology 1 M.Sc course in environmental biotechnology 1 M.Sc course in industrial biotechnology 1 M.Tech in pharmaceutical biotechnology 1 M.Tech. Marine Biotechnology 1 M.Sc. Plant Biotechnology

Biotech industrial training programme
To reduce the mismatch between requirement of industry and students produced by university , the Department of Biotechnology is facilitating industrial training for six months to postgraduate students in leading biotech industries. The Department is providing stipend to all the selected students and to attract more industries to offer this training, training fee of Rs. 50,000/- per student has been introduced from 2007-08. The number of applicants as well as candidates selected for training and the companies offering training under this programme has increased exponentially during the last 2 years. Approximately, 30% of students thus trained find permanent placement in the industry . The programme is being implemented through Biotech Consortium India Limited .

PG diplomas (Post M.Sc. /M.D./MS/ M.Tech)
2 1 1 1 IPR Diploma Medical biotechnology Genetic Engineering and Bioprocess Development Animal Biotechnology

Training programmes
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Short term training courses for mid career scientists, faculty involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching The department has an ongoing scheme for providing financial support for conducting short term training courses for 12-16 participants for the duration of 2 – 4 weeks for upgrading skills of mid career scientists and faculty involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.

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DBT Junior Research Fellowship (DBT- JRF) programme DBT JRF programme has been started from the year 2004. 250 JRFs are selected through Biotechnology Eligibility Test (BET) conducted by University of Pune, Pune and fellowships are provided for an initial period of 3 years which could be extended upto five years. Contingency grant of Rs.30,000/- per fellow per annum is also provided. Top ranking 100 students in merit are given option to join any institute of their choice in the country for pursuing Ph.D. Option is given to next 100 candidates in merit list to join DBT supported PG teaching universities ( a maximum of two students per institute) .

Biotechnology in Karnataka
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After establishing itself as a IT and BPO hub, Karnataka has successfully attracted the BioTech industry. As of Q1 2004 Bangalore currently houses 92 of India's 180 biotech companies, with total actual investments of over Rs 1,000 crore, of which Rs 140 crore has been venture capital funding. The companies are encouraged to invest thanks to the presence of large R&D institutions like Indian Institute of Science and the National Centre for Biological Resources. However, it is sure to face a lot of competition from media savvy Hyderabad.

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Bangalore Helix Bangalore Helix is a biotech cluster being planned by the Karnataka government. Bangalore Helix would support biotech units with common infrastructure. It would comprise eight biotech incubators, covering a total area of 10,000 square feet. Excluding the cost of land (around Rs 60 crore) that has already been acquired, the cluster will involve an investment of Rs 100 crore. The infrastructure support would be comprehensive, right from advance computing facilities to treated water necessary for biotech research. The incumbents of Bangalore Helix would pay for the infrastructure services.

Karnataka Biotech Finishing School

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Karnataka Biotech Finishing School is all set for its commissioning in November this year. The school, which has been set up at a cost of Rs 63 crore within the People Education Society IT (PESIT) College in Bangalore will offer one year course to students who have completed basic degree in the subject.

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According to MN Vidyashankar, state secretary, information technology, biotechnology and science & technology (ST), students will be selected through an entrance test and jobs will be guaranteed to those who pass out of the school. We are already in touch with industry partners and a dozen of them have shown interest, he added

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Overall, biotechnology has significantly impacted and improved the quality of life for people on this planet. And it doesn’t end there……….. Complementing the creative endeavors of researchers and engineers are the efforts to commercialize biotechnology products with the input of business management and marketing personnel. The expertise of intellectual property and patent lawyers are also a necessary component in the process. New career opportunities in the area of bioinformatics are on the increase. There are many exciting opportunities for scientists and non-scientists in the biotechnology sector. It is apparent that biotechnology does and will have a strong impact in our world.

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