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Bio Saga

Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Biotechnology? Oh, you need a Ph.D. to do that!"

Blogging earlier on Workforce shortages are a growing problem in the US biotech industry, may be boon to India and China , i recently read the sequel to this original article. So just thought of picking up only excerpts of it which were more relevant to the Indian scene.

The scene here in India is not very different form that of the US. I very often come across companies and their CEO's complaining about the shortage in workforce. It is certainly true, although there is a slight change in the scenario, unlike US schools, schools here in India churn out huge number of students in all spheres of science. Coming to the Biotechnology and other Lifesciences there are number of good schools here in India with the IIT's and NIT's and other premier institutions offering programmes on similar lines.

So now the point is the whether there's a shortage at all and the second applies to the kind of shortage.

Shortage of what?

The other point that needs clarification is the type of person who's in demand. When the biotech companies say there's a workforce shortage, they mean that there's a shortage of skilled technicians, particularly in a production environment. It's a bit funny and maybe a bit sad, that when reporters say that there's a shortage of scientists, some people interpret this as a shortage of Ph.D. level investigators. In industry, the word "scientist" has a broader meaning. In academics, you're only considered a scientist if you have a Ph.D., in industry, you're a scientist if science is what you're doing. Technicians with 2 year community college degrees (and sometimes a 4 year degree, too) are the people who are in demand.

"Biotechnology? Oh, you need a Ph.D. to do that!"

Still, the misconception that you need a Ph.D. to work in a scientific field might be a problem. If the general public views science as an occupation for the elite, students might be reluctant to take science courses. In biotech, nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the most successful graduates from biotech program are students who had done poorly in their large lecture weed-them-out chemistry-type courses, but had a good grounding in common sense and an ability to work with their hands. The need of the hour is to bridge the gap between the industry requirement and the knowledge that such biotech & lifescience school have to offer. The key question is, How can we educate the trained workforce that companies need?

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Life Science and Informatics

What is this?
is this a new industry?
or a old wine in a new bottle?

Well Life Sciences and Informatics can be anything form computational biology, all omes and omics, core bioinformatics to curation and literature mining, database creation, in the area of biology, chemistry , bio-chem space.

There are number of companies in India and bangalore is the forefront as a major bio-cluster with 20 to 30 companies in this sphere.

now how good are these companies doing?
how good are they in terms of the international markets and how profitable is their business?
what do they do?
their clients?

These are some interesting things that could be discussed in this blog page...

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