Options in genetic engineering

I am a Plus Two student with biology and mathematics as my subjects. I would like to know about the institutions that offer an engineering degree in genetic engineering and the related career prospects. Do IITs offer B.Tech. courses in genetic engineering?

LEKSHMI M.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Genetic engineering is not a mainstream course and it is offered only by a few institutions. Genetic engineering is the scientific process by which the genetic make up of an organism is manipulated by introducing or eliminating specific genes. Genetic engineering involves specialisation related to plants, animals and human beings.

Those aspiring to study genetics or genetic engineering should study physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology at the Plus Two level.

Genetics comes under the broad area of biotechnology. The biotechnology industry depends on genetics to produce pharmaceutical products such as insulin and other medicines. In the medical field, genetics focuses on diseases. It strives to understand the molecular basis of diseases and their cure.

Biotechnology plays a major role in industrial production, especially in biochemical engineering. It involves the integration of many branches of biology such as microbiology, biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology with chemical and systems engineering. Most Universities offer genetics not as a separate discipline, but as a subsidiary in the biotechnology, microbiology and biochemistry streams.

Study options

At the B.Tech level, genetic engineering courses are very rare. So after Plus Two, students can opt for B.Tech. course in biotechnology and biochemical engineering. Another option is to undergo a three-year B.Sc. degree course in genetics, biological sciences, life sciences or biotechnology and then go for post graduation in genetics.

B.Tech.

SRM University, Chennai, offers a four-year B.Tech. course in genetic engineering on its Ramapuram campus. Those who have passed 10 + 2 with at least 50 per cent marks in aggregate for biology, physics and chemistry are eligible for admission. Selection is based on a national level entrance test. Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi will be among the test centres. For more details visit www.srmuniv.ac.in or contact SRM University, West Mambalam, Chennai – 600033.

At IITs

IITs do not offer B.Tech. courses in genetic engineering. Therefore you can study biotechnology / biochemical engineering programmes offered by IITs.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras (http://jee.iitm.ac.in) conducts four-year B.Tech. biotechnology and five-year dual degree M.Tech. programmes in biotechnology.

IIT Kharagpur (www.iitkgp.ernet.in/jee) offers four-year B.Tech. and five-year dual degree M.Tech. courses in biotechnology and biochemical engineering.

IIT Guwahati (www.iitg.ernet.in/jee) offers B.Tech. in biotechnology.

IIT Delhi (www.iitd.ernet.in/jee) offers five year Dual degree M.Tech in biochemical engineering and biotechnology.

IIT Roorkee (www.iitr.ac.in/jee) offers B.Tech. biotechnology.

Admission to these programmes is through a national-level IIT Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE). Candidates who have passed Plus Two examination with physics, chemistry, mathematics / biology as subjects with a minimum 60 per cent marks can appear for the test.

The Institute of Bioinformatics and Biotechnology under University of Pune (www.unipune.ernet.in/ibb, www.unipune.ac.in) offers integrated 5-6 year M.Sc./ M.Tech. programmes in biotechnology. The selection is based on an entrance test. (Phone: 020 – 25691331)

In Kerala, Sri Chitra Thirunal (SCT) College of Engineering, Pappanamcode, Thiruvananthapuram; Mohandas College of Engineering and Technology, Anad, Nedumangad, Thiruvananthapuram; MET's School of Engineering, Mala, Thrissur; Sree Buddha 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 rank obtained in the State engineering entrance test. Next year onwards marks obtained in Plus Two examinations may also be taken into account for final selection. Details can be collected from the website www.cee-kerala.org.

The AWH Special College, Kallai, Kozhikode affiliated to University of Calicut conducts a three-year B.Sc. genetics (biotechnology and biochemistry combination). Entry qualification is a pass in Plus Two with physics, chemistry and any branch of life science.

Padmashree Group of Institutions, Bangalore, affiliated to Bangalore University, offers B.Sc. degree in genetics (www.padmashree.org).

M.Sc. courses

A few universities also offer two-year M.Sc. course in genetics. Graduates in biological sciences, life sciences or biotechnology and related courses can take up postgraduate programme in genetics. Some of the universities that offer M.Sc. degree in genetics are:

University of Delhi, South Campus, New Delhi - 21

Osmania University, Hyderabad- 500007

Bharkathulla Viswavidyalaya, Bhopal - 426026

Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana - 141004

Chowdhary Charn Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hissar - 125004

Rajendra Agricultural University, Samsthipur - 848125

Some of the universities that offer related courses include

Department of Botany, University of Kerala, Kariavattam, Thiruvananthapuram, offers M.Sc. degree in genetics and plant breeding.

The School of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Madras, Chepauk, Chennai, offers M.Sc. degree biomedical genetics.

Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT University) Vellore, offers M.Sc. degree course in biomedical genetics.

Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, offers M.Sc. degree in human genetics.

Gurunanak Dev University, Amritsar, offers M.Sc. degree in human genetics.

Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute, Porur, Chennai, offers M.Sc. degree course in human genetics.

Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh offers M.Sc. degree course in molecular and human genetics.

Madurai Kamaraj University, Palkalai Nagar, Madurai, offers M.Sc. degree in plant genetics engineering and microbial gene technology.

Central University of Kerala, Kasaragod (www.cuk.edu.in) offers M.Sc. degree in genomic science. Some universities and research organizations offer research facilities leading to doctorate degrees in genetics and related areas. List of universities that offer B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. courses in genetics can be collected from the University Handbook published by the Association of Indian Universities, New Delhi, which will be available for reference at the University Employment Information and Guidance Bureaux functioning under all universities in Kerala.

Job opportunities

To become a scientist, one should obtain a doctoral degree in the relevant field. Job opportunities exist in research and development organisations, pharmaceutical companies, biotech industries, academic institutions, colleges and so on.

The National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi; The Centre for DNA, Finger Printing 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 institutes that appoint genetic engineers and genetic and biotech scientists. There is an increasing demand for genetic engineers especially in the private sector.

GOPAKUMAR KARAKONAM