Many people have heard about it, but few really know what it is. It’s rather surprising, considering that biotechnology is anything but new.
Although the term only started gaining popularity in the 1970s, the practice goes back thousands of years.
How else do you think our ancestors made bread, brewed beer and produced cheese?
Today, the industry is able to take advantage of current knowledge and modern technologies to play a role in many areas, including human health, environmental and industrial processes, and agriculture.
According to BIOTECanada, much of the biotechnology research in this nation is health-based. In this field they work on preventative tools like vaccines and early detection of diseases. You will also find biotechnology is involved in creating antibiotics, and developing new – or improving on old – drugs and therapies.
Animal health and agriculture
Insects and extreme weather conditions can make crops difficult to produce. By engineering crops that are resistant to things like pests and droughts, biotech is improving crop yield and ensuring food security. The industry looks after animals too, by creating vaccines to fight parasites and infectious diseases.
Industry and the environment
This includes cleaner fuels and drinking water, waste and sewage treatment, and oil spill management, to name a few. This field also focuses on finding innovative ways to create useful materials. For example, plastic created from corn starch or antibacterial surfaces modelled after shark skin.
Another instance where biotechnology is used is in the mining industry, where microbes can be used to extract low-grade ores.
So what does this mean for you?
It means there’s a whole world of possible careers to explore. Don’t think that just because biotechnology has “bio” in it that the industry only consists of people clad in lab coats.
Sure, you’ll have Lab Assistants, but you’ll also have:
- Research Associates
- Scientific Directors
- Quality Control Engineers
- Validation Technicians
- Clinical Data Specialists
- Technical Writers
- Programmer Analysts
- Documentation Specialists
- Animal Technicians
- Process Development Engineers
- Manufacturing Associates
- and more!
Outside of research organizations and corporations, there are also many non-scientific positions in biotech, such as:
- Business Managers
- Public Relations personnel
- Financial Analysts
- Regulatory Specialists
Biotechnology truly is an interdisciplinary field and we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of careers and related industries.
So, if you find your interest piqued, don’t stop here; there’s much more to discover.
Photo credit: Idaho National Laboratory