Studies & Degrees in Biotechnology
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Biotechnology Study Programs
Biotechnology is simply a set of techniques by which human beings modify living things or products for specific use or uses or to serve a new end. The Britannica Encyclopedia says it is the use of biology to solve problems and make useful products as well. The American Heritage Dictionary sees it as the use of microorganisms or biological substances in order to perform specific industrial or manufacturing processes. A United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity has put it as the application of scientific and technical advances in life science to development commercial products. Brewing, which is a process in which yeasts convert simple sugar to alcohol, was an early application of biotechnology, while its earlier forms included the selective breeding of plants and animals to improve their value if used as food, and the use of yeast in the making of bread, beer or wine. In agriculture, increases in crop yields appear to be the most conspicuous application of biotechnology in modern times.
Experts say that coupled with a greater flexibility in certain environments where the crop grows, less use of chemical pesticides and the improved nutritional content of the agricultural products, the increased crop yield will make agricultural biotechnology, otherwise referred to as genetic engineering, as the future of food supply in the world. Genetic engineering involves the process of transferring genes between organisms, or modifying their genes to remove an undesirable trait or characteristic, or add a desired one. The other examples of biotechnology include baking that uses yeast and enzymes to cause the bread to rise or expand; cheese making that cultures bacterial enzymes; and biomass converter that changes sewage or waste water in sewers to fuel.
Many learning institutions are cognizant of the importance of biotechnology to human life and activities. For this, they have established departments or divisions that would take care of the programs of study for this important discipline. The University of Maryland University College in Adelphi, Maryland, United States offers programs for a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology and Biotechnology Management under the Graduate School of Management and Technology with core courses such as Societal Issues in Biotechnology, Introduction to Bioinformatics, Bio-processing and the Business of Biotechnology, Techniques of Biotechnology, Foundations of Project Management, and many other courses for a concentration in biotechnology management. In the New York University Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn, New York, a biotechnology program offers courses that lead to both the bachelor’s and Master of Science degrees. The bachelor program courses include the general concepts in biotechnology, food biotechnology, basic manufacturing concepts, drug development, and basic concepts of the discipline. The Master’s degree program focuses on the management and practical functions of certain technologies in biotechnology, and uses computational or computer methods to solve problems in biology in the case of a study of biomedical informatics. A 4-year Bachelor of Biotechnology program at the University of Queensland in Australia combines the elements from such areas as microbiology, immunology, physics, engineering, mathematics and chemistry, and concentrates on foundational subjects in the first three years.