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What you can do with Biology?

Recent scientific developments have enlarged the scope of Biology to a great extent. The genomics, particularly the study of human genome, application of basic principles of Bio-technology in diagnosis and treatment of diseases and also the improvement of crops and animal breeds would influence our lives to a great extent. Biology is one of the most diverse and rapidly changing of all the scientific fields.

Training in biology prepares an individual for a very large number of occupations; agronomy, biophysics, developmental biology, environmental law, forensic entomology, forestry, genetic counseling, immunology, medical practice, molecular biology, neurobiology, secondary school teaching and veterinary medicine.

Bioinformatics: Leading the way

The use of information technology in the field of molecular biology has grown steadily, opening avenues for career prospects in the field. Bioinformatics is an emerging interdisciplinary research area, which can be defined as the interface between biological and computational sciences. As a consequence of the large amount of data produced in the field of molecular biology, computers are used to gather, store, analyse and integrate biological and genetic information.

Some of the specific career areas that fall within the scope of bioinformatics include: Sequence assembly; Database design and maintenance; Sequence analysis; Proteomics; Pharmacogenomics; Pharmacology; Clinical pharmacologist; Informatics developer; Computational chemist; Bio-analytics; and Analytics.

Organisations that recruit people having bioinformatics skills include research institutions and companies like Satyam, Wipro, TCS and Reliance.

Biotechnology

This sector has the potential of generating revenues of US$ 5 billion and creating one million jobs by 2010 through products and services.

Bio-technologists in India can find careers in specialized Biotechnology companies or Biotech-related companies such as:

  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Agriculture
  • Chemical and allied industries
  • Food product manufacturers
  • Aquaculture
  • Government and private universities
  • Research institutes and Research labs
  • Biotechnology parks
  • Trade organizations

Some major organizations employing bio-technologists in  India include Hindustan Lever Ltd, Thapar Group, Indo-American Hybrid seeds, Biocon Ltd. IDPL, India Vaccines Corporation, Hindustan Antibiotics, National Botanical Institute, and National Chemical Laboratories & Tata Engineering Research Institute.

A search through websites of leading companies

Variety of job prospects came to the fore when this scribe went through the websites of some leading companies.

Nicholas Piramal India Ltd., which is engaged in major R&D initiatives in New Drug Discovery, Herbal Drugs, Chemical Process Development, Novel Drug Delivery System, Formulation Development and Clinical Research, had given an advertisement for following posts:

Group Leader – Research/Sr. Research Scientist:A senior scientist in the area of Inflammation drug discovery. The candidate should be a Ph.D. in Cell Biology/ Immunology/Biochemistry with 3-4 years postdoctoral experience in the area of inflammation biology and a strong publication record.

Group Leader - Research/Sr. Research Scientist: A senior scientist with cancer-related drug discovery experience. The candidate should be a Ph.D. in Cell Biology/Biochemistry/Cancer Biology with 3-4 years of postdoctoral experience in the area of oncology and a significant scientific accomplishment proven by strong publication record or by filed or issued patents.

Similarly Biocon Ltd., India’s leading biotechnology enterprise, had following jobs to offer:

Vacancies in research and development field – 4 positions:

Position 1: Candidates who have MSc/PhD. in any branch of Biology and 4-5 years experience in animal virology, viral immunology with experience in immuno assays.

Position 2: Candidates who have a thorough knowledge of molecular biology techniques for genetic manipulation of streptomyces. Qualification requirement is MSc/PhD. in any branch of Biology and 1-2 years industrial experience in genetics of streptomyces.

Position 3: Candidates with experience in cell banking in a biopharmaceutical industry. MSc/PhD. in any branch of Biology and 2-3 years experience in handling animal cell cultures.

Position 4: Candidates with experience in industrial microbiology/fermentation. Qualification requirement is MSc. Microbiology/Biochemistry/Applied Biotechnology and 1-2 years industrial experience.

Other Areas

Many outdoor jobs await people well trained in the life sciences. Horticulturalists develop new crop varieties, care for plants in greenhouses and fields, and design landscape plans. Fisheries biologists might work with an aquaculture company, overseeing the reproduction of farm-raised trout that eventually end up in your local supermarket. Zookeepers make food, medicate animals, and may help with captive breeding programs for endangered species. Employers include private companies and federal and state governments. The not-for-profit conservation sector is providing an increasing number of jobs.

Some other exciting careers involve combining biology with non-science skills. Put together biology and English to become a technical writer or even a science fiction novelist. Combine biology and art to go into medical and scientific illustration. You can link biology and history to become a historian of science or medicine. You can work in both biology and religion/philosophy as a medical ethicist or bioethicist. Combine biology and psychology as a neuroscientist . Join biology and political science to carry out science policy studies or work as a patent lawyer in biotechnology. Try mixing biology with business to get into hospital administration and biotechnology administration.

What Education do you need?

For some biology jobs, a two-year college degree is sufficient. Examples include medical assistant, dental hygienist, or veterinary technician. But most life sciences careers require at least an undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Science, B.S.) and often an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science (M.S.). Research jobs typically require the Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) which may take five or six years of intense and demanding training. There are some specialized degrees in the life sciences, the most prominent being the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) which usually takes four years to earn. Physicians must then do additional training before they can practice medicine.

What lies ahead

According to the Mckinsey study, Indian Pharma industry is poised to grow to US$ 25 billion (Rs.112.5 thousand crores) by 2010. It is bound to generate large opportunities for the students of life sciences. Companies will be particularly interested in those who can work with antimicrobial agents, as we experience the increasing ability of bacteria and other parasites to resist currently available antibiotics.

Similarly Biotechnology labs will continue to grow, branching out into areas such as large-scale genetic screening, immunology, and developmental biology. They will seek people who can work with microbes and plants that reclaim polluted land (bioremediation). Farm animals will be genetically altered for greater productivity.

On the medical front, it seems inevitable that more people will be needed in the field of gerontology as our population ages. In medical research gene therapy, transplanting animal tissues, inducing regeneration of damaged organs, and repairing ineffective immune systems are among many hot areas. Cancer research should yield cures and preventions during the next several decades.

To make available the huge volume of information coming from all of these fields, experts in bioinformatics (using computers to analyze complex biological data) may become highly prized. In biochemistry, a hot topic is structural biology, predicting what protein or nucleic acid structure would be necessary to accomplish a task, then producing that structure. Agricultural research above the gene level will become more important as the world faces food shortages. The neurosciences are already experiencing spectacular growth in knowledge and will attract many researchers in the future.

For Comments: psjamwal@amity.edu

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