The Department of Biotechnology, the first of its kind in Nepal, was established at Kathmandu University in 2003 in view to responding to a sharp shortage of graduate biotechnologists in the national bio-industries and allied areas with a mission to cater to and supply a steady stream of highly competent biotechnology graduates required for the country and contribute to generating new knowledge in the field of biotechnology.
Inspired by the mission of the university, the program activities of the Department of Biotechnology are designed to achieve the following objectives:
- Provide educational opportunities to students for preparing them to pursue higher studies for the development of their careers in bio-industries.
- Enhance professional practices for bio-industries through industrial visits as well as interactions.
- Assist biotechnological industries and related organizations to address their problems by providing consultancy services, HRD interventions, and so on.
- Enhance innovative activities in biotechnology and promote scientific publications and intellectual property.
- Strengthen need-based programs in higher education as well as continuing education for the benefit of bio-industries of Nepal.
What is Biotechnology?
Biotechnology is a frontier area offering a new technological base to understand living beings at the molecular level, unravel the genetic codes that govern biological processes and thereby be able to manipulate those for the betterment of humankind. Biotechnology is not just one subject; rather it is an amalgam of a number of different scientific fields. Biotechnology uses knowledge of microbiology, molecular biology, immunology, biochemistry just to name a few. In recent times, new concepts such as bioinformatics, proteomics, microarrays are becoming standard terminologies within this vast area of research. Novel research findings by scientists in this field of science are helping people worldwide in their quest for a healthier lifestyle.
A career in biotechnology is not just a job; it is an invitation to participate in the development of new products and processes that also contribute to improving people’s standards of living.
Where are the career development opportunities?
Major avenues of career development opportunities are as follows:
- Research and development in the processing of diverse biological materials and in the field of managing bio-industries.
- Employment opportunities are available in the industries such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, plant and animal biotechnology, and other options in forensics, disease and diagnostic therapy, education, and environmental protection bodies.
- Opening ways for pursuing further studies at Masters or Doctoral levels.
What is Bioinformatics?
Bioinformatics is an up-and-coming academic subject and research area that combines modern information sciences (informatics, mathematics, and statistics) with the life sciences (biology, chemistry, pharmacy, medicine, biotechnology, and food technology). Bioinformatics deals with questions of informatics that arise with the application of new technologies and a rapidly growing quantity of data in the life sciences. The discipline is also of continuously increasing significance in medicine and drug discovery namely to understand the molecular biological processes Bioinformatics develops and utilizes methods and techniques from computer science and mathematics in order to solve tasks from biology, chemistry, or medicine
Bioinformatics solves the following problems and put more emphasis on understanding the disease related problems at molecular level:
- Protein sequencing, Nucleic acid sequencing and their analysis.
- Find protein interaction, activity, modification and function.
- Elucidation of function of a molecule based on its structure.
- Understanding ecological patterns of interactions and behavior.
- Gene expression, analysis, prediction and establishing genomic library.
- Find homology for studying evolutionary relationship among different species.
- Molecular modeling and molecular dynamics methods to study structure from sequence.
- Drug designing and discovery from data of functional genomics and proteomics.
- Designing algorithms to solve aforementioned biological problems
The core competencies that is projected to be gained by prospective students include:
- Data analysis, software development, project support, and computational infrastructure support in biological contexts (such as next generation sequencing, medical research, regulatory genomics, and systems biology)
- Analysis and management of data as a member of an interdisciplinary research team composed of members from disciplines that span the biological, medical, computational, and mathematical sciences
- Modeling, building, and warehousing biological data; using and/or building ontologies; and retrieving, manipulating, and managing data from public data repositories
- Ability to manage, interpret, and analyze large data sets; broad knowledge of bioinformatics analysis methodologies; familiarity with functional genetic and genomic data; and expertise in common bioinformatics software packages and algorithms
- Apply statistics in contexts such as molecular biology, genomics, and population genetics; relevant statistical and mathematical modeling methods, including descriptive and inferential statistics, probability theory, differential equations and parameter estimation, graph theory, epidemiological data analysis, and programming and analysis of next generation sequencing data using software such as R and Bioconductor
- Apply software engineering methodologies to successfully design, implement, and maintain systems and software in scientific environments
- Becomes proficient in the use of one or more scripting languages (such as Perl, Python, Java, C, C++, C#, .NET, and Ruby), database management languages (e.g., Oracle, PostgreSQL, and MySQL), and scientific and statistical analysis software (such as R, S-plus, MATLAB, and Mathematica)
- Utilize web authoring tools, web-based user interface implementation technologies, and version control and build tools (e.g., subversion, Ant, and Netbeans)
- Possess detailed knowledge of molecular biology, genomics, genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, and evolutionary theory
- Develop managerial and programmatic skills, such as staff management and business development; understanding of or experience with grant funding and/or access to finance; awareness of research and development (R&D) and innovation policy and government drivers
Various job profiles exist for bachelors in bioinformatics, all building the connection between life science and IT experts. On the one hand they may work in pharmacy, chemical, plant or food industry or in biotech companies, but on the other hand they may be employed in software companies producing the pharmaceutical software for experts in biology, medicine or chemistry. Hospitals now also need bioinformatics bachelors in pathology and diagnosis labs or for clinical studies. The scope of duties of bachelors in bioinformatics is manifold, e.g. they may be experts in databases, simulations, data mining, or in algorithm design.