My sister, doing Plus Two in the science stream, wants to pursue a career in genetic engineering. Kindly let her know about the courses in the discipline and their scope.

POORNIMA K.S.

E-MAIL

To do a Genetics or Genetic Engineering course for higher studies, a student should have passed Plus Two with Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology. Just a few institutions in India offer courses in the twin disciplines.

Genetic Engineering means the scientific manipulation of the genetic make-up of an organism by introducing or eliminating specific genes. While choosing the B.Tech. course in the discipline, think critically about its wider job scope. B.Sc. courses in Genetics too are available.

Genetics comes under the broad areas of biotechnology and the biotech industry depends on it to produce pharmaceutical products such as insulin and medicines. In the medical field, genetics focusses on diseases, striving to understand the molecular basis of diseases and their cure.

Biotechnology plays a major role in industrial production, especially in biochemical engineering, integrating many branches of biology — microbiology, biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology and so on — with chemical and systems engineering. Most universities offer Genetics not as a separate discipline, but as a subsidiary subject in the streams of Biotechnology, Microbiology and Biochemistry.

B.Tech. Genetic Engineering courses are rare. Instead, students may do the B.Tech. course in Biotechnology or Biochemical Engineering. Another option is to do a B.Sc. course in Genetics, Biological Sciences, Life Sciences or Biotechnology and then do a postgraduate course in Genetics.

SRM University, Chennai, in the private sector, offers a B.Tech. course in Genetic Engineering on its Ramapuram campus. Those who have passed Plus Two with at least 70 per cent marks in aggregate in Mathematics or Biology, Physics and Chemistry are eligible for admission. Selection is through a national-level entrance test. Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi shall be the test centres. Visit www.srmuniv.ac.in for details.

Bharath University, Selaiyur, Tambaram, Chennai, is another private university offering a B.Tech. course in Genetic Engineering. Visit www.bharathuniv.ac.in for details. Selection is through a national-level entrance test.

IIT courses

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) do not offer B.Tech courses in Genetic Engineering. Instead, Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering programmes are offered.

The IIT, Madras, conducts B.Tech. and five-year dual-degree M.Tech. programmes in Biotechnology. Visit www.iitm.ac.in for details. The IIT, Kharagpur, offers the same course in Biotechnology and also Biochemical Engineering (www.iitkgp.ernet.in).

The IIT, Guwahati, offers a B.Tech. course in Biotechnology (www.iitg.ernet.in); IIT, Delhi, offers the dual-degree M.Tech. courses in Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology (www.iitd.ernet.in); and IIT, Roorkee, offers a B.Tech. course in Biotechnology (www.iitr.ac.in). Admission is through the Joint Entrance Examinations (JEEs) Main and Advanced.

SASTRA University, Thanjavur, offers a B.Tech. course in Bioengineering and Biotechnology (www.sastra.edu).

The Institute of Bioinformatics and Biotechnology of the University of Pune offers integrated M.Sc. and M.Tech. programmes in Biotechnology. Selection is through an entrance test. Visit www.unipune.ernet.in/ibb or www.unipune.ac.in for details.

In Kerala

The Sri Chitra Thirunal College of Engineering and Technology, Pappanamcode, Thiruvananthapuram; Mohandas College of Engineering and Technology, Anad, Nedumangad; MET’s School of Engineering, Mala, Thrissur; Sree Budha College of Engineering, Noornadu, Alappuzha; and Sahrdaya College of Engineering and Technology, Kodakara, Thrissur; offer B.Tech. courses in Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering. Admission to the merit seats in these colleges is based on the rank obtained in the State Engineering Entrance Examination and the marks in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics in the Plus Two examination (www.cee-kerala.org).

AWH Special College, Kallai, Kozhikode, affiliated to the University of Calicut, conducts a B.Sc. course in Genetics (Biotechnology and Biochemistry combination). The entry qualification is a pass in Plus Two with Physics, Chemistry and any other branch of life sciences.

The Padmashree Group of Institutions, Bangalore, affiliated to Bangalore University, offers a B.Sc. course in Genetics (www.padmashree.org).

Graduates in biological sciences, life sciences or biotechnology and related courses can take up postgraduate programme in Genetics.

Some of the Universities that offer the M.Sc. course are University of Delhi, South Campus, New Delhi - 21; Osmania University, Hyderabad – 500 007; Barkatullah Vishwavidyalaya, Bhopal – 426 026; Rajendra Agricultural University, Samasthipur – 848 125; Chaudharycharan Singh, Haryana Agricultural University, Hissar – 125 004; and Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana – 141 004.

Some of the universities that offer related courses are Department of Botany, University of Kerala, Karyavattom, Thiruvananthapuram: M.Sc. Genetics and Plant Breeding; School of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Madras, Chepauk, Chennai: M.Sc. Biomedical Genetics; Andhra University, Visakhapatnam: M.Sc. Human Genetics; Central University of Kerala, Kasaragod: M.Sc. Genomic Science; Madurai Kamaraj University, Palkalai Nagar, Madurai: M.Sc. Plant Genetics Engineering and Microbial Gene Technology; Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi: M.Sc. Molecular and Human Genetics; Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute, Porur, Chennai: M.Sc. Human Genetics; Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT University), Vellore: M.Sc. Biomedical Genetics. The list is only indicative. Research programmes leading to a Ph.D. are available in Genetics and related areas.

Job prospects

To become a scientist, take a doctoral degree in the relevant field. Job opportunities exist in research and development organisations, pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology industries, academic institutions and so on.

The National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi; the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad; the Biochemical Engineering Research and Process Development Centre, Chandigarh; and the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi; are some of the institutions that appoint genetic engineers.

Gopakumar Karakonam