is where the
are aplenty and the scope is immense is this new sunrise sector
CRUCIAL ROLE: Work on in a biotech laboratory
BANGALORE IS still
basking in the afterglow of
Bangalore Bio 2005, and if the industry is looking at crossing the $ 5
billion mark by 2010, there is no reason to doubt that the biotech
education sector is geared up to keep pace with the needs of the
By all accounts, the
127 companies that make
Bangalore the biggest biotech cluster in the country have lapped up all
the doctorate and post-doctorates that ever ventured forth in search of
a job, and even post-graduates and diploma holders have too many
options to choose from.
Earlier, companies that
were hiring found
that candidates with impeccable qualifications were not quite what they
were looking for.
The companies took to
hiring and training
them to meet specific job requirements. Since then, education has been
universities and colleges
have acknowledged the inevitability of jumping on to the bandwagon, and
steer the rush for degrees and doctorates towards research that can be
speedily turned into products on field.
had started a B.Sc
course in Biotechnology 10 years ago, as a vocational programme of the
University Grants Commission. Currently, BU produces about 3,000
graduates and over 850 postgraduates in biotechnology each year.
To these numbers, the
Visvesvaraya Technological University is adding nearly 800 students in
The IT and BT
Secretary, M.K. Shankaralinge
Gowda, said: "Postgraduates, doctorates and postdoctorate research
fellows are the key talent for research in any area requiring intensive
scientific knowledge and development.
They are much in demand
in all streams of
biotech: pharma, agri-biotech, dairy, veterinary sciences, and even
basic science, clinical and drug formulations research."
Even law students can
aspire to a piece of the biotech pie now.
property rights and patent
filing becoming the norm, the expert who can iron out the legal creases
will always be in demand.
There is no dearth of
qualified manpower. It
is just that, often, the courses are not tailor-made, but biotech is
not an exact science but a multi-disciplinary science that embraces all
kinds of applications, from computers to nanotechnology to chemistry to
other basic science subjects, Mr. Gowda points out.
For instance, the
Central Food Technology
Research Institute in Mysore would ideally like to have 1,000 Ph.Ds
working on its niche area. But all it gets is 22.
When R and D in biotech
is led by Ph.D
holders, that limits the number of experiments and projects that a
research centre can undertake.
Biospectrum, a journal
devoted to the biotech
industry, notes that biotechnology education in the country has
received great impetus and support first from the National
Biotechnology Development Board and then from the Department of
Biotechnology Development Board was established in 1982
and its very first mandate was human resource development as
biotechnology is a very specialised domain and a knowledge-intensive
field; development of infrastructure facilities; and support to
R&D. Later, with the establishment of the DBT within the Ministry
of Science & Technology in 1986, the mandate was taken over by this
Department. And to date, there are about 70 courses being supported by
DBT across the country.
were introduced at the Master's level in Madurai Kamaraj University,
Jawaharlal Nehru University and Pune University.
course was introduced in
other universities. Today, most of the universities, agricultural
universities and even the Indian Institutes of Technology have
introduced biotech courses across the country.
They have not only
gained acceptance at the
master's level, but are also considered as one of the best courses
being run in the country. The annual budget of DBT for human resource
development is Rs. 10-15 crore. And to start a course in a university,
it grants about Rs 1-1.5 crore for setting up the initial
infrastructure and then the recurring support is about Rs. 25 lakh.
The total intake of
students in the various DBT-supported postgraduate courses is around
840 per year.
The culture of
DBT-supported courses gave a huge impetus to human resource generation,
which fuelled research.
According to estimates,
approximately 20 percent of the initial human resource generated was
going into research.
The trend of qualified
students making tracks
for the U.S. has actually seen a downturn now, with options thrown up
by the Centres of Excellence (CoEs) such as National Brain Research
Centre (NBRC), National Institute of Immunology (NII), National Centre
for Plant Genome Research, Institute of Genomics and Integrative
Biology (IGIB) and National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS).
These CoEs were
established not only to promote
research in specific areas (brain, cell culture, plant genomics) but
also keeping the socio-economic problems and the question of job
opportunities in view. These institutes absorb trained researchers
within the country, but only a fraction of the research community makes
it to them, mainly because of inadequate funding and infrastructure.
For the past year,
Biospecturm has been
publishing the Biospectrum Student, a quarterly referral handbook that
guides the biotech student through the how and why of this "hot" new
sunrise sector, and helps choose the right college.
Now, Karnataka has its
own CoE, the Institute
of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology, where students from
over the country are acquiring diplomas and degrees that will take them
closer to their goal: of being where the action is i.e. computational
biology, DNA recombinants, datamining to see what the genes say.
with an M.Sc in
biochemistry, is now doing a lab course in biotechniques which will
have applications in gene transformation. After the course, she would
like to be part of a research team.
bioinformatics, would like to go into computational and systems
biology. "Making sense of the way biology works at the gene level is
fascinating." He would be happy doing research in India, but the U.S.
beckons too, tantalisingly, where more things happen, and faster.
His classmate, Ameya
Chaubal, is all chuffed
about datamining and peering at the information that the DNA carries,
and help research get to the bottom of it all.
studing the same course
wants to be in research into the recombinant DNA
technology that holds answers to many of life's mysteries. ALLADI