There’s a career opportunity in biotechnology.
This was the takeaway message in the recently held "Biotechnology Career Orientation and Experience in Biotechnology Research” which was part of the National Biotechnology Week celebration led by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in SM Dasmariñas, Cavite last November 26, 2015.
Biotechnology is the use of biological processes, organisms, cells, or cellular components to develop new products and technologies.
Dr. Leslie Michelle Dalmacio of the University of the Philippines Manilaencouraged her young audience to enter the field of biotechnology, advising them to take advantage of DOST's scholarship programs for undergraduate and graduate studies.
"When we make cheese, wine, or bagoong (fish paste), we are already applying biotechnology," she told high school students from nearby schools who attended the event.
Dr.Dalmaciomentioned the other broad applications of biotechnology, aside from food, such as diagnostics, medicine, plant breeding, environment, industry particularly energy production as well as forensics. She also introduced the students to modern biotechnology which involves using genes for other purposes.
Echoing Dr.Dalmacio’s statement was Kamela Charmaine Ng, a bioinformatics expert from the Philippine Genome Center, who revealed that synthetic insulin is one of the first significant products of modern biotechnology.
According to Ng, the field of bioinformatics, which she describes as a marriage of biology and computer science, is something that even computer scientists can get into.
Bioinformatics uses computers to collect, store, analyze, and integrate biological and genetic data which can be used fordrug discovery and development. Bioinformatics has, in fact, become more relevant amidst the growing amount of data generated by Next Generation DNA Sequencing which refers to modern DNA sequencing technologies which allow scientists to sequence DNA and RNA a lot faster and in a more cost-effective manner.
Ng added that local researchers are doing cutting-edge biotechnology researches in diverse fields. Among these are development of rapid diagnostic kits for dengue and other important diseases; making personalized medicines based on one’s DNA make up; and drug development from biochemical compounds found in the country’s rich biodiversity. There are also current researches related to agriculture such as developing disease-resistant crops, as well as in forensics and ethnicity.
There are also existing facilities at the Philippine Genome Center for our local researchers. The center is open to collaborate with scientists for research and also provides training and services, she said.
The career orientation was organized the by Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development and the National Research Council of the Philippines, which are both under the DOST.