Nature’s Toolbox/ Unraveling Nature’s secrets

The emerging biotechnology sector offers satisfying career trajectory to young aspirants. Prachi Rege gathers intelligence on the feeding, fueling, healing science of life

Updated: Feb 19, 2014, 01:17 AM IST

The emerging biotechnology sector offers satisfying career trajectory to young aspirants. Prachi Rege gathers intelligence on the feeding, fueling, healing science of life

Does the study of DNA molecules excite you? Do you want to help find cure or develop affordable medicines for life threatning diseases? If yes, then formulate that science geek in you to make a career in the booming field of biotechnology.

A recent report by Ernst and Young (E&Y) titled- ‘Beyond Borders: Global biotechnology report 2011’ suggests that the biotechnology sector in India is expected to achieve a revenue of US$ 11.6 billion by 2017. It also estimates the industry to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22 per cent.

“With changes in various government policies and growing trends in global markets, the industry is looking forward to healthy growth potentials,” says Atul Aslekar, director of the Pune-based VLifeSciences. “I believe that 2014-15 will witness a rise in manpower demand,” he adds.

The job prospects for a biotech graduate are definitely promising. For one, the Departments of Science and Technology and Biotechnology, and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) collectively have a huge network of over 300 organised national laboratories. Also, the emergence of indigenious private sector companies like Biocon, Piramal Healthcare, Zydus Cadila and many others, has added more brightness to the employment scene.

Industry experts however, are unable guess the exact manpower demand. “Biotech market in India has both organized and unorganized players. Hence, it is difficult to guess the exact manpower demand,” says Amitava Saha, HR head of the Bangalore- based Biocon India. Biocon hires on an average approximately 1000 people every year, he reveals.

A wide range of jobs are available for those who want to be a part of this sunshine sector, observe head honchos. You could be a bio-engineers applying engineering principles to biological systems, or you could be also be a lab scientist and research associate developing drugs in the research and development departments. Once developed, drug needs to be tried and tested before it goes out in to the market. It is at this stage that professionals like clinical researchers, programme associatse and site coordinators step in to do the testing.

You will need to market a pathbreaking and affordable drug appropriately. Medical representatives, product managers and sales executives do this work. With the market getting clogged up with new drugs and cures, patents and liscences are an issue. For these, you need professionals in the regulatory related jobs. Research work or scientific data needs to be processed logically; this is done by IT-related professionals designated as data analysts or programmers.

Besides these, there are many multi-disciplinary job opportunities in departments related to quality assurance, compliance, Intellectual Property (IP), logistics, supply-chain, etc. “Finally, those who don’t want to be employed in any of the above mentioned job roles can make a career by passing on the seeds of knowledge to the young aspirants. Lecturer and trainers at educational institutes are always in demand,” points out Aslekar.

HR experts say that a biotechnology job involves a lot of fieldwork. Hence, it requires multi-disciplinary skills of both-science and technology, and management. “Smarten up your BSc or BPharm degree with a MBA and you can land up a mid-level management job role along with a handsome pay package,” advises Saha.

For those holding managerial positions, skills like good communication, team work, culture fit with the company and ability to network are essential. In case of research scientists, recruiters look for PhD candidates having an adequate number of papers published while studying, problem solving capability and ability to work for a flexible number of hours. “Fresher should focus on becoming industry-ready. Keep abreast with the latest developments and be ready to work in an industrial set-up,” advises Aslekar.


Plug In
Institute of Bioinformatics and Biotechnology, (IBB) Pune -

School of Biotechnology, JNU, Delhi

Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology, Bangalore-

The Amity Institute of Biotechnology, Noida- ?

A researcher`s tale

Tanima De, PhD Scholar, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS)

For the last four years I have been a PhD scholar (NeuroChemistry) at NIMHANS. Currently, I am awaiting my thesis result. My area of research is—developing the theraputic algorithm for the patient suffering from Cerebral Venous Thrombosis—popularly known as brain clot. Before joining NIMHANS I worked as a research scientist with the Institute of Bioinformatics (IOB) for two years. Over here, I learnt the computational aspects of analysing biological data collected for reasearch.
Thanks to my class XI Science teacher, who made learning fun, I decided to make a career in Genetics.

Though my parents wanted me to become a doctor, I was firmly focused on becoming a research scientist. Studying Biotechnology was quite benefcial. It helped me to combine my knowledge of Genetics with technological aspects of life sciences. Being in the research field demands hardwork. A PhD scholar must not take more than five years to get their degree. If you want to continue in the research field, then you must be a patient person. As this will help to cope with failed experiments. One must also read research papers in the field to keep up with the work in the field. It is essential to stay focused on your area of study. As scientists we deal with living organisms like mice or handle human tissue samples which need to be stored carefully and not lost or damaged. One needs to wisely choose a lab and guide. Go for the ones who are masters in your chosen area of research and where you are confident that genuine work is taking place. Though there are a number of research companies that employ research scientists and scholars, I intend to do my post doctoral research abroad. A deep scientific study is my passion and I want to keep it alive.