Career in Animal Biotechnology

Animal Biotechnology has made its importance felt in global scientific circles in a short time. The main objectives of the emerging scientific stream are identification and characterization of animal breeds, developing.

DNA – based diagnostics and genetically engineered vaccines for animals, studying animal genomics and its varied applications and developing embryo – transfer technology and other such techniques.

DNA forensics, molecular diagnostics, cloning, wildlife conservation, stem – cell research and bio – processing technologies are other import areas under the discipline.

Animal biotechnology has diverse and widespread applications in the areas of food quality control, analyses of milk and milk products and other animal products, besides development of disease – free, pedigreed animal, and the like.

So, if you are an animal lover and have chosen veterinary science as your profession, animal biotechnology offers a whole lot of opportunities for you.

Animal Biotechnology involves the application of scientific and engineering principles to the processing or production of materials by animals or aquatic species to provide goods and services.

Examples of Animal Biotechnology include generation of transgenic animals or transgenic fish (animals or fish with one or more genes introduced by human intervention), using gene knockout technology to produce animals in which a specific gene has been inactivated, production of nearly identical animals by somatic cell nuclear transfer (also referred to as clones), or production of infertile aquatic species.

Since the early 1980s, methods have been developed and refined to produce transgenic animals or transgenic aquatic species.

For example, transgenic livestock and transgenic aquatic species have been produced with increased growth rates, enhanced lean muscle mass, enhanced resistance to disease or improved use of dietary phosphorus to lessen the environmental impacts of animal manure.

Transgenic poultry, swine, goats, and cattle also have been produced that provide large quantities of human proteins in eggs, milk, blood, or urine, with the aim of using these produce as human pharmaceuticals.

Examples of human pharmaceutical proteins include enzymes clotting factors albumin, and antibodies. Animal Biotechnology also can knock out or render ineffective a specific gene.

Knockout technology creates a possible source of replacement organs for humans. The process of transplanting cells, tissues, or organs from one species to another is called “xenotransplantation”.

At present, the pig is the major animal being considered as a xenotransplant donor to humans.

Another significant application of Animal Biotechnology is the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer to produce multiple copies of animals that are nearly identical copies of other animals (transgenic animals, genetically superior animals, or animals that produce large quantities of milk or have some other desirable trait etc.).

This process is known as cloning. Until now, somatic cell nuclear transfer has been used to clone cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, horses, mules, cars, rats, and mice. The technique requires culturing somatic cells from an appropriate tissue (fibroblasts) from the animal to be cloned.

Nuclei from the cultured somatic cells are then microinjected into an enucleated oocyte obtained from another individual of the same or a closely related species.

Through a process that is yet to be understood, the nucleus from the somatic cell is reprogrammed to a pattern of gene expression suitable for directing normal development of the embryo.

After further culture and development in vitro, the embryos are transferred to a recipient female and finally will result in the birth of live offspring.

Eligibility for Animal Biotechnology Careers :

To become an animal biotechnologist, you need to have a Master’s degree in Veterinary Science with specialization in Animal Biotechnology. Those with a Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (B. VSc. and AH) are eligible for the Master’s program.

Aptitude

A scientific bend of mind with a zeal for research and a lot of patience is required to become an animal biotechnologist. You must have a keen interest in life sciences. As this field has immense scope abroad, you should be prepared to touch foreign lands to pursue your career.

Since this field is expanding rapidly, you also need to be updated with the latest developments. For this you should be in constant touch with advancements taking place worldwide and the various researches and their outcome.

In addition to research, a biotechnologist produces bio – processed materials such as drugs and foods and also adopts measures to check pollution and treat factory effluents.

So you should have an aptitude for the production side of this field. In biotechnology, marketing is done by professionals with a background in biotechnology.

Animal Biotechnology Courses

There are three centres in the country where Master in Animal Biotechnology (M. VSc.) has been introduced by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. They are :

  • G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pant Nagar.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, Jabalpur.
  • Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar.

Admission to all these institutions is through a centralized test conducted by Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

The Department of Biotechnology grants a monthly, cash incentive of Rs.5, 000 to students who have cleared their national – level entrance test for admission to the government – sponsored M.VSc.

Course and are studying at these institutions. Each student also gets a contingency fund of Rupee 40, 000 for research during the course.

Specialised courses in the discipline are also offered at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) at Izamagar, Bareilly the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Karnal and Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS), Chennai.

Prospects for Animal Biotechnology Careers

Wide scope for animal biotechnologists is there as they can be absorbed by the biotechnology industry, research organizations, food – processing units, the defence sector and the pharmaceutical industry. Besides research, they can also choose to teach at various universities as faculty members.

Foreign universities are always an option to students in case they want to go abroad for further research. According to estimates, the biotechnology industry is growing at a brisk pace of 40 percent and is expected to reach $5 billion by the year 2010, when it would be employing nearly a million people.

Demand for veterinary vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics and protein feed is ever increasing. Foreign companies with animal health divisions based in India, such as Bayer.

Hoechst and Pfizer, as well as Indian firms such as Indian Immunologicals and Venkateswara Hatcheries provide good opportunity for research and employment. In academic institutes, postgraduate candidates can apply for teaching jobs or research.

Some renowned names, in addition to the ones already mentioned, are Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, Gujarat State Biotechnology Mission, Department of Biotechnology & Bioinformatics Centre of Barkatullah University, Bhopal, and Biotechnology Park, Lucknow.

Career in Animal Biotechnology – Remuneration

The best part of becoming an animal biotechnologist is that you start earning as soon as you join any of the institutions under the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, as has already been mentioned above.

And opportunities are galore once you pass out. In multinationals operating in India, an animal biotechnologist can expect an entry level salary between Rupee15, 000 and Rupee20, 000.

This salary increases to up to Rupee30, 000 if you have an experience of a couple of years and managers in these firms draw anything between Rupee50, 000 to Rupee75, 000 depending on performance. Even in Indian firms, the starting salary is not less than Rupee10, 000 to Rupee12, 000 nowadays.

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