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Careers in Molecular Biology and Cell Biology

Molecular Biology

The study of biology at the molecular level, molecular biology is a highly challenging and fascinating interdisciplinary science which draws from fields like biochemistry, microbiology, and biotechnology. It also overlaps with other areas of biology and chemistry, particularly genetics and biochemistry. Like other life sciences, molecular biology examines and solves a broad range of critical biological problems i.e. designing, producing and testing new drugs to treat AIDS, cancer, asthma, diabetes or new peptides to fight bacterial infection. A lot of work is under way in new areas such as gene mapping, gene therapy and drug delivery systems using advanced DNA technologies. Starting from the evolution of the cell and small molecules, your study of microbiology at the Bachelor’s level would have covered energy, biosynthesis, macromolecules, protein function, basic genetic mechanisms, recombinant DNA technology, control of gene expression membrane, ionic basis of membrane excitability, intracellular compartments and protein sorting, cell signalling, the cytoskeleton, maintenance of tissues and the immune system. At the postgraduate level, you will learn various computational methods, including molecular mechanics, molecular dynamics, pharmacophore mapping and modelling (plotting the spatial arrangement of a small number of atoms or functional groups) and some software packages. Theory will be complemented with considerable lab work and experiments. Gene mapping and gene transfer — introducing genes directly resistant to drought, disease etc into plants has tremendous implications on agriculture. If you are fascinated by the beauty and intricacies of the tiniest life forms and are prepared to work hard, this can be an extremely challenging and promising field. You will essentially work on research programmes at institutes, pharmaceutical and agribiotech firms and universities to provide accurate and reliable diagnostic data based on modern molecular methods to cure various diseases and develop new and high yielding breeds of plants. You could even work as a DNA fingerprinting expert. International agencies like the India Japan Science Council (www.jsps.go.jp/english) Imperial Cancer Research Fund (UK), the Volkswagen Foundation (Germany), University of Ryukyus, Okinawa (Japan), or the National Institutes of Health (US) offer short-term as well as long-term research assignments overseas. Cell biology studies the properties of cells including their physiological properties, their structure, their organelles, interactions with their environment, their life cycle, division and death. Both molecular and cellular biology are interrelated, since most of the properties and functions of a cell can be described at the molecular level. And finally, here is a piece of ‘relevant’ trivia. Did you know that an ostrich egg can weigh up to 1.3 kg and that its yolk is the largest single cell of any organism?