About Genetic Engineering and Future Scope, Courses & Duration
Humans have altered the genomes of species for thousands of years through selective breeding, or artificial selection as contrasted with natural selection, and more recently through mutagenesis. Genetic engineering as the direct manipulation of DNA by humans outside breeding and mutations has only existed since the 1970s. The term “genetic engineering” was first coined by Jack Williamson in his science fiction novel Dragon’s Island, published in 1951 – one year before DNA’s role in heredity was confirmed by Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase, and two years before James Watson and Francis Crick showed that the DNA molecule has a double-helix structure – though the general concept of direct genetic manipulation was explored in rudimentary form in Stanley G. Weinbaum’s 1936 science fiction story Proteus Island
Genetic engineering is the act of modifying the genetic makeup of an organism. Modifications can be generated by methods such as gene targeting, nuclear transplantation, transfection of synthetic chromosomes or viral insertion. Selective breeding is not considered a form of genetic engineering.
Genetic engineering has a huge array of applications, for instance, surgery, animal husbandry, medicine, and agriculture. With genetic engineering, many crops species have developed immunity to most lethal diseases. Genetic engineering has also helped to increase yields at the farm. Today, wide-ranging crop species like wheat are genetically modified to achieve high nutritive value, and faster and higher productivity. These days, more and more countries are embracing genetically engineered crops to fight scarcity of food, offer highly nutritious foods, and grow and cultivate crops that are immune to various diseases and pests. Genetic engineering, in many ways, has heralded an age of agricultural revolution, which many hope will help wipe out malnutrition and starvation.
Since Genetic Engineering is a highly research oriented field, a PhD degree is imperative if you want to climb up the ladder at work. PhD graduates usually go on to do their postdoctoral training and join university as professors or enter industry as research scientists. Students with just an undergraduate or masters degree can only work as research assistants or at best as lab managers. They cannot do independent research projects, lead a team of researchers or start their own lab. In short, if you are keen on making a name for yourself in this field, be prepared to do your PhD.
Genetic Engineering scientists and researchers usually find jobs in the research labs of universities and research institutions. Some even join the R&D section of biotech industries. Students with M.Tech or MSc degree in Genetic Engineering or Biotechnology with specialization in Genetic Engineering can find jobs in biotech and pharma companies or join universities as research assistants. Some universities in India also hire MTech/MSc students as lecturers.
Courses & Duration
Genetics courses are quite popular in India. You can pursue the bachelor, master & a doctoral degree in this field. It is important for the study of microbiology, cell biology, Bio-Technology & biochemistry.
The role of the geneticist is very crucial for various things such as cancer research, unborn defects, DNA samples & etc.
A geneticist works in both medical & scientific fields in gaining a better understanding of mutation, reproduction & cell growth.
The various courses in genetics are mentioned below:
Bachelor of Science in Genetics (B.Sc. (Genetics))
Bachelor of Science Honors in Genetics (B.Sc (Hons.) Genetics)
Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Genetics, Microbiology & Chemistry
Master of Philosophy in Genetics (M.Phill.(Genetics))
Master of Science in Genetics (M.Sc.(Genetics))
Master of Science Honors in Genetics (M.Sc (Hons.) Genetics)
Master of Science (M.Sc) in Applied Genetics
Master of Science (M.Sc) in Biomedical Genetics
Master of Science (M.Sc) in Human Genetics
Master of Science (M.Sc) in Molecular Biology and Human Genetics
Master of Science (M.Sc) in Microbial Genetics and Bioinformatics
Master of Science (M.Sc) in Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy in Genetics (Ph.D. (Genetics))
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Human Genetics
Universities that offer Genetic Engineering courses in India:
Very few universities in India offer Genetic Engineering courses and they are as follows
*SRM University [B.Tech, M.Tech and PhD in Genetic Engineering]
*Bharath University, Chennai [M.Tech in Genetic Engineering]
*Aryabhatta Knowledge University, Patna [B.Tech and MTech in Genetic Engineering]
Most universities offer Genetic Engineering as a specialization within a broader field such as Biotechnology or Biological Sciences. Students usually pursue a degree in Biotechnology/Biology and specialize in genetic engineering for their research projects. This is how it works at all levels, be it BTech, MSc/MTech or PhD.
List of Genetic Engineering research centers in India:
The following institutes and research organizations do high quality research work in genetic engineering and allied areas:
*ICGEB, New Delhi
*IIT Biotechnology departments
*AU-KBC Research Centre
Scope in India and abroad
Genetic Engineering is still in the development stage in India. The past few years have seen a significant increase in the allocation of grants and funding for genetic engineering research and development and quite a number of scientific institutions such as the IISERs etc have been established by the Indian government. There is definitely a lot of momentum in this space but the opportunities are not as good as abroad. Also, job opportunities are not as high as IT and software fields.
USA, UK, Europe, Canada are doing very well in genetic engineering research. USA and UK are at the forefront of research in genetic engineering. If your goal is to pursue groundbreaking research in this field and publish high quality papers and research articles, then your best bet would be pursue your higher studies and find jobs in any one of these countries.
There is a lot scope for this field in India and abroad. Coming to the salary aspect, in India, at an entry level after graduation you can start at atleast 20000-25000 per month. However the salary in MNCs and offshore sites is much higher, where you will start at about $50000 per annum. This can go even above $140000 per annum if you have a PhD.
Thus it is a booming field, with huge earning potential especially abroad. Go ahead and work towards it if you feel you have the interest and ability to do so.