What is Biotechnology?
Biotechnology is not a single area of study, but a multidisciplinary field concerned with the practical application of biological organisms and their subcellular components to industrial or service manufacturing, to environmental management and health, and to medicine. It is a series of enabling technologies drawn from the fields of microbiology, cellular biology, molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, immunology, fermentation technology, environmental science and engineering which allow one to synthesize, breakdown or transform materials to suit human needs. Biotechnology can, therefore, be defined as the safe study and manipulation of biological molecules for development of products or techniques for medical and industrial application. Although biotechnology in the broadest sense is not new, the current ability and demand for manipulating living organisms or their subcellular components to provide useful products, processes or services have reached new heights. Modern biotechnology has resulted from the scientific scrutiny of old and familiar processes and from new advances in molecular biology, genetic engineering and fermentation technologies. The future industrial landscape will continue to include research, development and the manufacturing of products such as proteins and nucleic acids that will be based wholly or in large part on biological processes.
Biotechnology applies scientific and engineering principles to living organisms in order to produce products and services of value to society. It is used in processes ranging from cheese production, brewing, and wastewater management, through to drug design and gene therapy. The program examines microorganisms, plants, and animals in the context of the discovery, understanding, improvement, and development of viable products or activities. The discipline combines elements from many areas such as molecular genetics, microbiology, immunology, physics, chemistry, engineering, and mathematics.
Biotechnology breakthroughs have been integral in advancing the way we live, through enhancing crops, creating new diagnostic tests and treatments for diseases, finding ways to deal with and decrease harmful waste, creating household products and much more. In biotechnology programme, students use leading-edge technology to continue this invaluable work.
Work in biotechnology crosses several industrial and service sectors including health, agricultural, diagnostic, environmental, forestry, legal and commercial. The Bachelor of Biotechnology leads to career paths in Pharmaceutical companies (drug design and development or pharmaceutical production); Chemical companies (nanotechnology and biosensor applications); Agriculture (plant breeding and engineering); Diagnostics companies (diagnostic test design and production); Legal and consulting companies (business plan analyst); Government agencies; and Research with research institutes, universities or in industry.
Across its curriculum, the Biotechnology Department will:
- Expose students to a broad range of knowledge in the area of science, gene manipulation and bioengineering world.
- Adopt enquiry based approaches that involve critical thinking.
- Provide students with a range of skills to evaluate the benefit and limitation inherent in different research design as well as analyze life science questions with more emphasis in biotechnology.
- Impacting into students in becoming proficient in interpreting and reporting qualitative data.
- Help students develop abilities to convey biotechnological information to both scientific and layman communities in written and oral formats.
The Department of Biotechnology is a dynamic programme for the study and research of the diverse and exciting field of science and technology. Students in the Department gain concise knowledge of the principles, concepts, and methods of modern biotechnology; as well as develop necessary analytical, practical, and research skills, relevant in the ever dynamic fields of science and technology.
The Departmental curriculum is well structured to cover a wide spectrum of courses that cover a wide range of scientific subjects, from microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology to genetic engineering, immunology &immunochemistry, pharmacology, and virology.
Finally, the Department seeks to produce students that are well furnished with the tools to take up leadership roles in the society and as well make informed decisions about scientific issues.
Various biotechnology careers include forensic DNA analyst, scientist, clinical research associate etc. Here are some of the career opportunities with a degree in biotechnology:
Laboratory Research Careers
Discovery Research: Could include protein chemists, geneticists, biochemists, etc.
Animal Science Specialists: Grow cultures, make and purify DNA, and conduct early stages of testing when a drug’s safety is determined via animal testing.
Bioinformatics: Data analysts who combine the biological sciences with information technology who aid discovery researchers in identifying the most promising drug candidates. The three realms of activity in bioinformatics include: creating databases to store/manage large sets of data; developing algorithms and statistics to determine relationships among datasets; or using these tools to analyze and interpret biological data.
Non-Laboratory Research Careers
Engineering: Determine how to ensure there is enough material available for clinical testing and how to manufacture approved drugs. Includes four distinct paths: process/product development; manufacturing; environmental health and safety; and quality.
Medical and Clinical Setting: Involves clinical drug testing and analyzing data.
Administrative and Support Functions: This area would include career paths in finance, human resources, safety managers, external relations, IT, legal, facilities management, and project management.
Sales and Marketing: Sales involves becoming a specialist in various medical niches, understanding the biological components of the product, and making contact in the field. The marketing function involves identifying target customers for the product and creating strategies to sell the new drugs and technologies. Additionally, new business development and alliance management are encompassed within this area informatics specialist, animal caretaker and much more.