Biotechnology is a combination of Science and Technology that pertains to life. It is a science of knowing the essence of life and managing the same by the use of technology and or using the same in other technologies. Biotechnology is a scientific discipline where all other disciplines intermingle. All branches of science converge at molecular level and, thus the biotechnology is open for all the students of Science: Biologists, Chemists, Physicists, Doctors and Engineers.
Systems that combine biological molecules on the one hand and physical devices and processes on the other, have a huge potential for many applications. Indeed, biotechnology interfaces all disciplines of science. One can enter the biotechnology field at different stages of education. Admission to IITs for Bachelor of Technology or integrated Master of Science is possible through the IIT – JEE after schooling at 10+2.
Many other Institutions also offer admission to their courses on the basis of the rankings in IIT – JEE. Admission to the graduate, postgraduate and integrated postgraduate courses in biotechnology can be secured through various entrance examinations held by different institutions and through other national or state level entrance examinations. Jawaharlal Nehru University ( JNU ) conducts an entrance examination at all-India level for admission to Postgraduate courses, in a large number of Universities.
A Bachelor of Science in any discipline with a minimum of 55% of marks or equivalent grade would be eligible to apply for the said entrance examination for admission to a post-graduate course in biotechnology. For Master of Technology Biotechnology the requirement is 60% in Bachelor of Technology / Bachelor of Engineering or Master of Science Indian Institutes of Technology ( NTs ) and some Engineering colleges admit students for Bachelor of Technology and integrated Master of Science courses as well.
One may opt for Biotechnology at Postgraduate level or even at PhD level after completing Postgraduate course in any branch of science. Many state, central as well as private Universities provide courses in biotechnology at different levels. In the modern era, biotechnology is one of the greatest intellectual enterprises of humankind and has immense utility for well being of the people. Government of India has a separate department to promote Biotechnology within the Ministry of Science and Technology, called Department of Biotechnology ( DBT ).
DBT promotes higher education, research and development in this and allied areas. It also promotes industrial development in biotechnology. One can visit its website at www.dbtindia.nic.in for further information. It supports Postgraduate course in biotechnology in a large number of Universities / Institutions across the entire country; a list is available on DBT website.
Many autonomous Institutions have been and are being established by DBT to explore the field of biotechnology. Each of these institutions is working in the wide range of frontier areas of biotechnology including for example, molecular biology, genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, plant and animal sciences, food technology, genomics and proteomics. biophysics, structural biology, biochemical and biomedical engineering, bioinformatics, microbiology, immunology and virology.
Institutions with core support from the Department of Biotechnology include :
- Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics ( CDFD ), Hyderabad
- Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development ( IBSD ), Imphal.
- Institute of Life Sciences ( ILS ), Bhubaneshwar.
- National Agri – Food Biotechnology Institution ( NABI ), Mohali.
- National Brain Research Centre ( NBRC ), Manesar.
- National Centre for Cell Sciences ( NCCS ), Pune.
- National Institute of Plant Genome Research ( NIPostgraduateR ), New Delhi.
- National Institute of Animal Biotech noiogy ( NiAB ), Hyderabad.
- National Institute of Biomedical Genomics ( NIBMG ), Kalyani.
- National Institute of Immunology ( Nil ), New Delhi.
- Rajiv Gandhi Centre For Biotechnology ( RGCB ), Thiruvananthapuram.
- Regional Centre for Biotechnology ( RCB ), NCR, Gurgaon
- Translational Health Science & Technology Institute ( THSTI ), NCR, Gurgaon.
- Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine ( InStem ), Bangalore.
Other Organizations / Departments / Ministries of the Government of India, such as Council of Scientific and Industrial Research ( CSIR ), Indian Council of Medical Research ( ICMR ), Indian Council of Agricultural Research ( ICAR ), Department of Science and Technology ( DST ), Ministry of Human Resource Development ( MHRD ) and Department of Atomic Energy also support many institutions that focus on education and research in different aspects of biotechnology. These institutions offer excellent opportunities for research leading to PhD degree in Biotechnology.
Some of them offer admission to Postgraduate courses as well. Admissions to PhD courses are through CSIR – UGC NET or other national level entrance examinations conducted by different institutions and organizations. Many of the Institutions conduct their own entrance examination and many others admit Research Fellows on the basis of CSIR – UGC NET. Biotechnology innovation chain consists of several steps.
Discovery based fundamental research could result in leads that may have potential for technological development. Identifying this potential and converting the leads into viable intellectual property is the next important step. The leads which pass this step could then be subjected to developmental work towards potential for commercialization. Each of these steps has its own complexities and sophistication.
Therefore, biotechnology sector requires human resource with unique skills in a variety of areas in a multidisciplinary environment in order to enable meaningful innovation for societal use. Unlike many other industrial developments, biotechnology primarily deals with human life and therefore implications of developments in this field are far reaching. There is a need to train people with ethical and regulatory aspects as well.
Training in protection of intellectual property is another required area. Strategically designed courses and domain – specific training programs are required in order to produce for example, specialists in regulatory sciences innovation policy professionals, industrial quality assurance specialists, physician scientists and professionals in agriculture, climate change and energy. Establishment of the Regional Centre for Biotechnology ( RCB ), an institution of education, training and research by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India under the auspices of UNESCO ( www.rcb.res.in ), was highly pertinent in this context.
RCB mandate is to develop industry – compatible human resource in all aspects of biotechnology in a state of art research milieu.
Biotechnology is an emerging area of science which will keep the options of corporate sector as well as traditional science open. Biotechnology offers wide career opportunities in biotech industry, agriculture and allied industries, pharmaceutical companies, food processing industries and research.
Those who seek early placements may do so after graduation. One can join biotechnology industry, Pharmaceutical, Chemical or Agricultural and Allied Industries in Production, Sales and Management related jobs. Even Infrastructure Industry, Manufacturing Machinery and equipments needed in bio processes may absorb the biotechnologist. Biotech industry includes production companies based on biotechnological processes and devices. It includes manufacturers of machinery and equipments required in Biotechnological processes as well.
Teaching at all levels in educational institutions provides an opportunity for biotechnologist since the area, is in growth phase and is still expanding. Research and development is another option, which has vast opportunities to satisfy ones quest for knowledge along with providing livelihood. After completing Postgraduate degree, one can join as Junior Research Fellow ( JRF ) and work towards PhD degree in a multidisciplinary area of biotechnology.
Those who have completed their PhD degrees may go for Postdoctoral Fellowships in or out of India and contribute towards Research & Development. Opportunities after 3 / 4 years of research experience as Postdoctoral Fellow with excellent publications / patents record can be immense. It can get scientific positions or faculty positions in any of the institutes engaged in R & D.
Considering that biotechnology involves advanced scienfic skills, better career opportunities exist for those qualified at higher level of education. Demand is particularly high for those who have acquired skills in the gap areas. Those who have compled PhD in any field linked with biotechnology are easily aborbed in industrial R & D or academic / Research Institutions. Particularly, those having postdoctoral experiences of about 3 years with proven record of research accomplishment, can begin at very senior level.