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Introduction to Biotechnology

Biotechnology is...

The use of living organisms to produce food, medicine, or other products that provide a benefit to humans.

Most people don't realize biotechnology is thousands of years old! Making cheese, wine, bread, and selective breeding of plants and animals are all examples of using living organisms for our benefit.

Modern day biotechnology takes this a step further though. We can now take genes of one organism and transfer them directly to another organism. Human insulin for diabetics is manufactured in this way, as the insulin gene is introduced into bacteria, which then produce insulin on a large scale. Sometimes, we can actually alter the gene itself and reinsert it into the organism to produce a completely new product. This can be seen in plants that contain a "knockout" gene that make crops resistant to a specific herbicide, allowing greater crop yield.

Most modern biotechnology companies produce protein products (biopharmaceuticals) through cell culture and this process is called biomanufacturing.

How biopharmaceuticals are manufactured in cell culture

Biotechnology as a Career

As developments and uses for biotechnology continue to evolve, opportunities for careers will rapidly expand. Below is a brief description of several possible career paths in biotechnology.

Biomanufacturing Technician

makes life-saving medicines on small or large scale using upstream and downstream manufacturing processes while meeting FDA regulations and cGMP standards.

Biomanufacturing Technician Upstream

Biomanufacturing Technician Downstream

Quality Control (QC) Technician

uses sophisticated instrumentation and equipment to ensure product quality and safety.

Chemistry QC Technician

Microbiology QC Technician

Raw Materials QC Technician

Laboratory Technician/Assistant

Performs laboratory tasks such as solution and media preparation, sterile filtration, assays such as ELISA, maintenance of laboratory equipment and supplies, and washing glassware in an industrial or research setting.

Laboratory Technician

Laboratory Assistant

Additional Career Paths