Career Feature: Biotechnology

We all love to eat bread. I don’t think I can single one person on earth that has not had a taste of bread. We all love the fluffy feel in our mouth even when we use our hands to divide it or cut out a portion of what we would like eat from the loaf. It’s swollen and fresh. Would you ever believe that among the ingredients used in making bread; flour (Wheat, maize, millet or cassava), butter, egg, sugar and yeast etc, there’s a microorganism in it?Oh yes, you heard me a microorganism. What could the microorganism be? The microorganism is the yeast ingredient in the read that makes the dough of the bread to rise. Amazing isn’t it? Same goes to some other food you eat, like the yoghurt you drink has a bacteria microorganism in it called lactobacilli. This bacteria in the yoghurt helps give the yoghurt that unique sour taste that makes you like yoghurt through a process called fermentation. Do these microorganisms fall into the process of making of food accidentally? or was it a deliberate act? Well well, these microorganisms in action were discovered by scientists centuries ago, but now they are used deliberately by mankind to achieve a lot of things. Through research, scientists have discovered that some microorganisms, other living organisms and some of their components can be used to solve many of man problems. Remember our definition of innovation/technology in our previous career feature articles? We stated that innovation/technology is the creation of new things and methods to solve a problem. Biology is the study of life or living organisms. What do you think this subject should be called, remember it has to do with using organisms to solve mankind problems. That is innovation, a new technology isn’t it? We can call this new subject or career Biotechnology. Do you know that millions of children have a vitamin A diet defieciency? Vitamin A is a highly essential micronutrient and widespread dietary deficiency of this vitamin in rice-eating Asian countries has tragic undertones.five million children in South East Asia develop an eye disease called xerophthalmia every year, and 250,000 of them eventually become blind. Saddening isn’t it? Improved vitamin A nutrition would alleviate this serious health problem and, according to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), could also prevent up to two million infant deaths because vitamin A deficiency predisposes them to diarrhea diseases and measles. This is an apparent problem that needs a solution. Biotechnology sets in by the development of rice strain () that has the potential to prevent blindness in millions of children whose diets are deficient in Vitamin A.

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Biotechnology is responsible for many of the things that make our lives better. The field focuses on the intersection of biology and technology, leading to a vast array of new products that are designed to enrich lives, make day-to-day living easier, and make us healthier. From vaccine production to genetic modification, biotechnology is everywhere – and as a result, biotechnology careers are quite promising for new graduates.

Biotechnology is the use of a living organism, or some component of a living system, to make a useful product.

However, biotechnology has a wide variety of career opportunities ranging from sales and marketing, to research and development, to manufacturing and quality control and assurance.

Biotechnology industry continues to flourish nationwide. Not only are the total number of biotechnology companies increasing, but employment in the biotechnology field continues to grow as well.

If you enjoy science, math, technology, investigating and solving problems, and making useful products, a career in biotechnology may be for you. Scientific knowledge is important in this line of career. Biotechnology careers need basic skills such as computer use, effective written and verbal communication, and math ability. These skills can be developed, through schooling and being involved in extracurricular activities both in school and outside school.

Biotechnology is combining knowledge about life and living organisms with modern technology to create new systems, devices, materials, food…that could improve human life and help preserve environment. Most biotechnology products are associated with agriculture, food industry and medicine, and logically – careers in those fields are most popular.

Biotechnology, however, is no new science. It has been around for years right from the 1970’s when the recombinant DNA(Recombinant DNA, is a DNA that is artificially formed by combining constituents from different organisms ) was discovered.

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Some examples of job titles and occupation in Biotechnology career include; Biochemist/Bioinformatician Biophysicist, Biomedical engineer, Biotechnology laboratory Technician, Biotechnology Research Associate, Clinical Research Associate, Crime Lab Technician, Quality Control Analyst, Quality Control Engineer, Senior Research Scientist, Validation Technician, Biotechnology/pharmaceutical sales, Environmental Engineer, Forensic DNA Analyst, Greenhouse and field technician.

Biotechnology industry can be grouped into five different categories

1. Research and development (which includes research and development, laboratory support and technician jobs);
2. Manufacturing and services;
3. Quality and regulatory affairs; documentation, coordinator, health & safety specialist and quality assurance specialist (The duties of this sector include equipment is calibrated properly and all equipment function right. Regulatory affairs employees ensure that all government regulations are followed, working closely with the research and development, manufacturing, quality control and quality assurance departments. They also keep records to prove that products are made exactly as approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Health and safety specialists work to ensure that the workplace is safe for all employees and all safety regulations are followed.)
4. Sales and technical support; and
5. Administration and management.

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Biotechnology is all about harnessing the power of living cells and materials for use in environmental, diagnostic, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. In essence, biotechnology is all about using the raw ingredients of life to help solve society’s problems. It can also commonly be referred to as life sciences or genetic engineering, which involves exploiting cell and tissue culture technologies to produce lots of wonderful things.

Register here on Teen Africa Career Leap (TACL), our career development program to explore more about this career and other career options.In TACL, we would  mentor and coach you into building a career path that best suits you. The journey is exciting. Join other teenagers in our career program.

Source: Biotechinstitute,agbioforum, Khanacademy, biotechnology forums, biotechnology degrees, learnhowtobecome, allaboutcareers.

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