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The science of engineered life

“Called the cutting-edge industry of this century, biotechnology is a hot career choice”

If you enjoy the challenge of working with the innovative and the new and tacking real life problems of hunger, malnutrition and disease, biotechnology is one of the most promising fields.

In simple terms, biotechnology is “applied biology”. The application of biological knowledge and techniques to develop products or the use of living organisms to make a product or run a process. By this definition, the classic techniques used for plant and animal breeding, fermentation and enzyme purification can also be considered biotechnology.

Arun Balakrishnan, Director of Centre for Biotechnology (CBT), Anna University Chennai, defines it as a subject that integrates science, medical science and technology that leads to the development of a product. Medical science involves molecular biology, genetic, engineering, immunology and cell biology. In biotechnology “we understand how a living cell functions and in some cases use a living cell to produce a specific protein that might have a therapeutic value.”

Genetic Engineering is an integral aspect of Biotechnology that uses molecular tools to move ganes from one organism to another, changing one or more traits of the recipient organism. This has wide applications n the field of agriculture, especially production of hybrid crops.

Methods have been deduced to enhance quality of fruits, ripening of fruits under simulations. A new protein –rich potato (genetically enhanced ‘potato) developed by university researchers in Indiacould help combat malnutrition. Biotech helps to develop different tools to identify bacterial contamination in food. So, it has a wide potential in food processing, preservation and in testing meat production in the industries.

In India, most pharma industries are looking into biotech as the next input. It also plays a major role in the diagnosis of various diseases such as tuberculosis, using polymerized chain reaction based technique.

Role of biotech in the IT sector is through bioinformatics. This field involves modeling certain things even before an experiment is done, making it an area where biological molecules are modeled through computer-aided designs (CAD).

It role in the environmental segment involves degradation of plastics and conversion of vegetable water to fertilizers.

Students seeking admission to B.Tech course must have studies Maths, Physics and Chemistry in their qualifying examination. Further studies will involve as MS, Ph.D or ME abroad.

As far as the job opportunities are concerned, B.Tech graduates can fall in groove into any of the engineering sections of large-scale plants. They can enter areas of bioinformatics or go into specialization such as patent attorney or patent law. The curriculum will help them develop as researches or entrepreneurs. There is ample scope in pharma industries, food processing and of course medical diagnostics.

Deserving candidate can be placed well in institutes such as National Center of Biological Sciences, Bangalore (www.ncbs.res.in) ,Center for Cellular Molecular Biology, Hyderabad (www.ccmb.res.in) and the National Brain Research Center, New Delhi (nbrc.ac.in).

Institutes offering a two-year M.Sc course in biotechnology are: University of Hyderabad. Cochin Universityof sciences and Technology, Kerala, Bharathidasan University , Tamil Nadu,Agricultural University,Coimbatore and Pondicherry University.

Institutes offering M.Tech course include: Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, University of Kerala, University of Kolkata and Anna University. The IITs as Kharagpur and Delhi are offering a five-and-a-half year M.Tech. course.



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