Posts Tagged ‘Human Genome Project’

Building A Biotech Career, One DNA Strand At a Time

Thursday, June 10th, 2010
DNA Strand from the U.S. Library of Medicine

DNA Strand from the U.S. Library of Medicine

DNA is the basic building block of life, and these days, it’s also the building block for many a job in the Biotechnology industry. Ever since the launch of the Human Genome project (the massive effort to identify all human genes) in 2003, the fields of Biotechnology and life sciences have been booming, with a broad spectrum of career opportunities waiting to be filled by skilled technicians, as we heard in this week’s episode.

Today, the foundation for these important jobs is laid in high school, with the National Science Education Standards emphasizing a curriculum that includes a working knowledge of the life sciences — including the structure and function of DNA.

But, what exactly, is DNA? It stands for deoxyribonucleic acid and in the simplest of terms, it is the hereditary material in most all living creatures, including humans and is found in every cell in the body. Because DNA is a “double helix,” it has the unique ability to replicate, or make copies of itself; consequently when our cells divide, each new cell is able to have an exact copy of the DNA present in the old cell. For that reason, TV crime shows often refer to DNA as a “genetic fingerprint.”

Check out the Genetics Science Learning Center at the University of Utah for activities and information that teach the nuts and bolts of DNA and genetics, including a primer on heredity and an overview of cells.

How does this translate to jobs? According to the U.S. Human Genome Management Information System, DNA and genomics offer almost limitless career opportunities. For example, genetic data is leading to new applications in medicine including everything from genetic counseling to vaccine development and pharmaceutical careers. To learn how to prepare for a career in the biosciences and Biotechnology field, along with a guide to specific career areas, visit here.

You can also find job descriptions of a wide variety of Biotech careers including laboratory technicians, metrology specialists and software development analysts (to name just a few) at BioLink- The National Advanced Technology Education Center focused on Biotechnology.

And if you need just more inspiration, consider this excerpt from a speech made by President Barack Obama last November as he described the future of the U.S. economy: “I’m committed to moving our country from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math education over the next decade…This is probably going to make more of a difference in determining how well we do as a country than just about anything else that we do.” From classroom to career, don’t overlook that Biology homework!