Genetic engineering, a field that has revolutionised the world of biology, continues to be a subject of great interest to students. With the application of biotechnology rapidly expanding, understanding the principles and implications of genetic engineering has become crucial for any aspiring medical professional. Moreover, genetic engineering has also become a popular element in sci-fi movies like the Jurassic Park movie series. So, if you want to do some cool science in real life and choose genetic engineering as your career, this blog is for you.
In this blog, we will discuss:
- What exactly is Genetic Engineering?
- NEET-UG and Genetic Engineering
- Path to follow
- Future Opportunities
- Ethical Concerns
What Exactly is Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engineering, in its most basic form, is the purposeful change of an organism’s genetic material using different methods such as gene splicing, gene modification, and gene transfer. This procedure includes the altering of DNA sequences in order to introduce desired features or eliminate unwanted ones. Scientists can assist the generation of organisms with enhanced traits, higher resistance to illnesses, and improved adaptation to varied environmental situations by identifying and modifying individual genes responsible for certain qualities. Here are a few key principles involved in Genetic Engineering:
- The initial step in genetic engineering involves isolating the genetic material, usually DNA, from the source organism.
- Scientists then use techniques such as restriction enzymes to cut the DNA at specific points, allowing for the addition, removal, or modification of specific gene sequences.
- Once the desired genetic modifications are made, the modified DNA is introduced into the host organism, where it can integrate with the host’s genetic material.
- The modified genetic material expresses the desired traits in the host organism, manifesting the intended changes.
NEET-UG and Genetic Engineering
The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is an entrance exam for undergraduate medical and dental programs in India. While genetics is a subject covered in the NEET syllabus, it is not a direct pathway to becoming a genetic engineer. To become a genetic engineer, one typically must pursue a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as biotechnology, genetics, or molecular biology. After completing a bachelor’s degree, one can pursue a master’s degree in genetic engineering or a related field. NEET may not be accepted for admission to these programs as it is specifically designed for medical and dental programs.
It should be remembered that NEET is for medical courses like MBBS, while genetic engineering is a core science stream, unlike the medical profession. The ideal path to becoming a genetic engineer is to have all four physics, chemistry, maths and biology after class X from a recognised board like CBSE, ICSE or state board and then pursue a B.Tech./ B.Sc. in Biotechnology, Biophysics or Genetics from IITs (like IIT-Roorkee), IISc Bangalore or SRM University, Chennai. This path keeps a lot of your options open and gives you a variety of career options to choose from. After your undergraduate program, you can either continue master’s from the same college or apply to other universities through GATE or IIT JAM examinations. You can apply to foreign universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). If you want to know more about MIT, check out this blog.
There is only one way to do genetic engineering through NEET. That is through IISc Bangalore, as it has started accepting NEET scores. But still, this will require you to have all four subjects (PCMB) after your class X. The competition would be very high because of the prestigious reputation of IISc. After you get into IISc, you can pursue a BE (Bachelor of Engineering) in Bioengineering. After that, you must go for a Master’s and later a PhD.
Genetic engineering is a technology-oriented field where there are updates regularly. Keeping yourself updated with the latest advancements in the related fields is essential. While in college, you should also focus on improving skills and experience; internships are the best way to do so. If you want to know how to get good internships, check out this blog.
Path to Follow
NEET-UG candidates should understand the significant applications of genetic engineering in both medicine and agriculture. In the medical field, this technology has paved the way for the development of life-saving drugs, gene therapy, and the production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for research and pharmaceutical purposes. Additionally, genetic engineering has played a pivotal role in producing vaccines, insulin, and other essential medicines.
Genetic engineering is continuously evolving, offering numerous opportunities for research and innovation. Aspiring medical professionals should keep abreast of the latest advancements in genetic engineering, including CRISPR-Cas9 technology, gene editing, and synthetic biology. Familiarising yourself with these cutting-edge technologies will not only enhance your understanding of the field but also open up avenues for further research and specialisation.
Genetic engineering is used in medicine, research, industry and agriculture and can also be used on various plants, animals and microorganisms. The field is relatively new and offers a lot of career opportunities. Here are some fields you can find a career in:
- Genetic engineering in the field of medicine is used in manufacturing drugs. The concepts of genetic engineering have been applied in laboratory research and gene therapy. You can have a promising career in pharmaceutical companies like Cipla or Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories.
- In Agriculture, genetic engineering creates genetically modified crops or genetically modified organisms to produce genetically modified foods. Genetic engineering has enhanced crop yields, improved resistance to pests and diseases, and developed crops with better nutritional content. It is crucial for you to understand the ethical and environmental implications of genetically modified crops.
- You can also join governmental organisations like ICAR (Indian Council for Agricultural Research) dedicated to agricultural research. You will be working on new technologies and measures for better crop production.
- Research and Forensic – Scientists use genetic engineering in their various research. Genes from various organisms are converted into bacteria for storage and modification, creating genetically modified bacteria. You can also work as a forensic scientist, using principles and techniques to solve crimes. Some of the prestigious institutions that offer promising careers in Genetic Engineering are the Tata Institute of Genetics and Society, Tata Medical Center and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB).
- Although they are distinct areas, a genetic engineer’s job is the same as that of a researcher who works in various settings (lab or industry).
To give a general idea about the payscale, you can earn Rs.3-5 lakhs annually at an early stage. This varies from company to company and will obviously increase as your experience and skills increase.
While this technology has opened up new possibilities in medicine and agriculture, it has also raised concerns about the safety of genetically modified organisms and their potential risks to the environment and human health. Understanding these concerns will be vital for aspiring medical professionals as they navigate the complexities of this evolving field. You should remember that genetic engineering holds immense promise for addressing pressing global challenges; it also raises ethical concerns related to the potential misuse of technology, environmental implications, and the creation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). As a result, it is critical for scientists, politicians, and the general public to participate in intelligent debate to develop comprehensive rules and laws that assure the responsible and ethical use of genetic engineering technology.
Genetic Engineering is a multifaceted field with immense potential for advancements in medicine, agriculture, and other sectors. You should grasp the fundamental concepts, applications, ethical considerations, and future prospects associated with genetic engineering to build a strong foundation in this dynamic study area. This field holds vast opportunities for students interested in engineering and biology. If you are also interested in biotechnology and want to know more about it, check out this blog.
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