MORE THAN 10,000 aspirants have enrolled for the Combined Biotechnology Entrance Examination being conducted on Thursday for admission to 500 seats in 40 institutions.
If the numbers prove a point, it is that Biotechnology has arrived as a career choice for more young people than in the past. It is because biotechnology is increasingly being viewed as the magic bullet that can rid the world of many of its problems, from chronic hunger to infectious diseases. The belief, based more on fact than on hyperbole, has spawned industries, which in turn have created a rush of new job opportunities.
The entrance examination, which is conducted by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), is divided into two sections, and according to Prof. K. J. Mukherjee, Dean, School of Biotechnology, JNU.
Section A has traditionally been beneficial for students who have studied Mathematics at the plus-two level, whereas students who had Biology in their undergraduate years have a clear edge in Section B. “Section A has Class XII-level questions from Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics, so those who had Mathematics in their plus-two should get good scores in Section A,” Mukherjee said.
“Section B has Physics and Chemistry, but there are more questions from Biology, which gives students who have studied biology an advantage.” Prof. Rajiv Bhat, Coordinator, Combined Biotechnology Entrance Examination, counsels test takers not to panic. “People who take the exam come from diverse academic backgrounds and it’s difficult to design a paper that includes all subjects,” Bhat said. “The paper is balanced and has questions from the subjects that matter to biotechnology students — Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics.”
The really good news, though, is that students taking the examination won’t be as much in the dark about it as they have been all these years. To help aspirants prepare better, sample papers will be uploaded on the JNU website from next year, Bhat said.
JNU's School of Bio-Technology
It was one of the first six institutions in the country to initiate a postgraduate teaching and research programme in the subject in 1985. Over the years, it has established itself as the country’s leading academic programme in Biotechnology, which is why it has been given the responsibility of conducting and assessing the entrance examination.
The Common Entrance Examination is conducted for admission to the M. Sc. Biotechnology, M. Sc. Agriculture / M. V. Sc. ( Biotechnology) and M. Tech. Biotechnology programmes being offered by the participating institutions.
JNU’s School of Biotechnology offers 30 M. Sc. seats, and the specialisations on offer include cell biology, biochemistry, biophysics, computational biology and bioinformatics, and biomolecules, to name just a few.
“We focus more on animal biotechnology and I think we are behind in plant biotechnology, though the School of Life Science does focus on this field,” Mukherjee added. The School, however, is introducing a paper in chemical and synthetic biology this academic session.
Among students, though, biotechnology industry courses such as biosimilars, advanced immunology and bioprocess technology are immensely popular, for they offer a diverse range of opportunities both in research and manufacturing. “ The production of cost- efficient drugs and food production is what biotechnology is being used for, so there are a number of career options in the industry,” Mukherjee added.
THE ROAD AHEAD FOR BIOTECH
Molecular Medicine is critical to the vision of biotechnology being the magic bullet against chronic diseases. It is the study of molecular structures to identify genetic errors leading to disease. This field has practical applications in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
Biosimilars , or follow-on biologics, is a term used to describe officially approved subsequent versions of ‘ innovator biopharmaceutical products’ developed by different sponsors following the expiry of the exclusivity of the patent holder. Biosimilars have paved the way for tailor- made medicines.
Computational Biology and Bioinformatics involve the application of Mathematics.
People with a background in Mathematics find it easy, but non- Mathematics students have to undergo specific training provided by the School of Biotechnology.
Source: Mail Today