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What does a biotechnologist do?

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Alagusundaram’s Answer

Hi Jordan,

A biotechnologist uses biological processes to their advantage in industrial and other applications. That is, they use biology in a practical application, such as the production of antibodies or protein drugs. A “biotechnologist” is a generic term, however, that does not just apply to the production of protein drugs, but also to agriculture, cosmetics, and other products and industries.

Biotechnologists will focus on the best conditions to use to scale up production to manufacturing large amounts of their product and then monitor the quality of the product’s lifecycle. Finally, a biotechnologist may characterize the final product using bioassays, analytical chemistry, and other techniques to ensure the delivery of a safe and effective drug.In other fields such as agriculture, a biotechnologist may manipulate DNA (genes) to produce a heartier crop that can withstand different climates or pests. In cosmetics, biotechnologists may try to manipulate microorganisms to produce new pigments or ways to keep your skin looking younger.

In each example, these are some of the more technical aspects of a biotechnologists job; however, like every job, this is only a small portion of what their role entails.

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Maxwell’s Answer

Just about anything! I graduated with a bachelors in Biotechnology with a specialty in microbial systems. Since then I've work in labs studying Herpes and Hepatitis viruses, studying HIV vaccines, and now I work for a biotech company that makes medical diagnostics. What Biotechnologist means to me is anyone who uses technology and technological advances to answer questions related to biology. It just depends on what you are interested in. Some may work to design assays to detect disease, some may work to genetically engineer immune cells to fight cancer, and some may help build equipment and machines which will be used in other labs to advance their research.

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Alex’s Answer

Hi Jordan, I agree with Maxwell's response, you can do pretty much anything. In college I worked in 3 labs, the first one making nano-filters to kill bacteria and clean water, the second did more computational biology, doing wet lab work and imaging human tissue cells, and the third one engineering bacteria to degrade harmful chemicals. My first company genetically engineered bacteria to produce chemicals. This process was very clean compared to conventional chemical routes, which was pretty neat. In my second company I worked in a lab growing human tissue cells to treat patient injuries, getting exposure in the medical industry such as working in cleanrooms and dealing with regulations. I no longer work in biotech, but my current company (energy sector) has a biotech division (most likely molecular biology / microbiology). They also do research with biofuels too.

It was good to have exposure to different things while I was in college before joining the workforce, but you'll have to juggle with your available time. Learning soft skills like public speech, critical thinking will give you an edge over others, not just memorizing a lot of names.