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Biological Science Course & Skills That Will Be In Hot Demand Post COVID-19

Every cloud has a silver lining. A quote by which it seems like we need to live by off late. In these uncertain times, it has become glaringly obvious what issues we as a nation are facing while trying to tackle this crisis of COVID-19.

With a population like ours, it is becoming increasingly apparent that our healthcare system is not well equipped to handle the potential number of cases that may come through. But through all of this is, there is a takeaway.

There is an urgent need to invest in the Biosciences industry. We lack the amount of personnel to take a challenge of this magnitude head-on. This has only highlighted the areas in which we lack and now with that insight we can work upon covering the gaps. 

CSIR, DST, SERB and BIRAC have all put out nationwide calls encouraging proposals for fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

We also have various organizations, institutes and companies rushing to either develop a vaccine, creating easy to use and affordable testing kits and/or involved in drug development.

Keeping this in mind, post-COVID-19 it would be wise that we ensure that we focus more on Research & Development in India. It is high time that we invest in Science. We need to become one of the strongest nations when it comes to R&D. 

Listed below are some of the Biological Science courses and skills that you could consider developing since these will be in popular demand in the years to come, post COVID-19 Outbreak. 

  1. Virology

This is the hottest topic at the moment and by definition, it is the branch of science which deals with viruses and viral diseases. 

It is evident that there is so much in nature that we are yet to discover and find answers

for. And judging by the current scenario who knows how many more viruses we may discover in the coming years? For instance, the Hantavirus creating some panic amidst the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Though this is not something new, it just goes to show how microscopic teeny tiny microorganisms can wreak such havoc across the world. 

This is a field that is going to have a lot of takers since we never know what is lurking in the shadows when it comes to diseases that can bring the whole world down to its knees. 

It is a very interesting Biological Science course & field of study. You will get to understand and also discover what makes these viruses tick, why they are the way they are? Many unanswered questions can become potential of research interest for you. Now as you can see with COVID-19 many scientists are toiling day and night to figure out how it functions. Many are studying its genome as well to figure out what can be targeted to make it less virulent. 

So what does a Virologist do?

Well, he/she works closely with viruses on their various aspects, right from how they function to whether they infect only humans, animals, plants, etc. How to diagnose one and how to treat an infection caused by a virus. The response a virus has to the combination of drugs used to treat it. They also work closely with hospital authorities and the government to curb any outbreak and what are the protocols to be followed while combating an outbreak.

Read: Pune Virologist Minal Bhosale Delivered India’s 1st COVID-19 Test Kit Hours Before Delivering Her Baby

Just an example of how important a virologist’s role can be in a scenario like the Coronavirus Outbreak.  

Virology Institutes in India:

One of the nation’s major institute is National Institute of Virology, Pune. Established under the auspices of ICMR & Rockefeller Foundation (USA). It also has a field unit in Bengaluru, Karnataka and two under development at Gorakhpur (UP) & Allapuza (Kerala) respectively. 

The Biological Science courses / Academic Programmes In Virology  being offered by NIV are:

  1. Ph.D. Program at ICMR-NIV
  2. M.Sc. Virology

Other institutes that offer Virology Courses are

  1. Epidemiology

According to the CDC, the definition which best sums what Epidemiology is as follows:

Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations and the application of this study to the control of health problems.

What does an Epidemiologist do?

An epidemiologist studies the outbreaks of diseases, the causes, the locations and how various communities are affected, and uses relevant related information to come up with solutions to prevent such outbreaks from occurring in the future. They work mostly with government organizations to help keep the community safe from any potential disease outbreaks.

Off late we have many epidemiologists coming forward with what they think the timeline of the COVID-19 will be in India based on the strategies being employed by the country to fight this pandemic. These timelines can help the government either by encouraging them to continue on the same path or to think or revisiting their strategy on dealing with the outbreak.

Epidemiology Institutes in India:

In India, we have ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai, Tamil Nadu and All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata, West Bengal with the latter having a dedicated Department of Epidemiology and a Medical Council of India (MCI) recognized MPH course of three years. 

A Master of Public Health is a necessary qualification to become an epidemiologist. 

Some institutes offering the MPH courses in India are

  1. Food Technology

Food technology by definition is the branch of science that deals with production, processing, packaging, and distribution of food.

What does a Food Technologist do?

While we are in the middle of this pandemic, the nation has resorted to panic buying and hoarding of groceries. Most of all we were looking for non-perishable items that can last a few months on a minimum. All forms of instant noodles, instant mixes are flying off the shelves. As we all know the origin of canned foods was born out of necessity for the French army and we have come a long way since then. 

Food Technology is a course which has and always be in popular demand and post COVID-19 even more so owing to the fact that not all of us were lucky enough to have the essentials stocked at home, so if there are some alternative, it can be of great help during crises like these. 

We are blessed that we are an agricultural country, it is the backbone of the Indian economy. We are privileged to have enough land and some resources to keep the practice going. But there are many countries who have no land or the resources like we do to ensure they are not dependant on importing food to feed their country. 

Food technologists come into the picture because they can use innovative ideas to help a nation be self-sufficient. There are no boundaries to what technology can do, so imagine using the benefits of technology to take farming to the next level?! While on the topic of COVID-19, it has been widely reported that the origin of the virus was a wet market in Wuhan where all kinds of meat were sold. Now, what if we could move away from wet markets? What if there was another alternative to meat? Food Technologist plays a role here, already we have the influx of fake meat or more plant-based meat in the market, probably this is a sign that this is the way we should go maybe?! 

As you can see a food technologist has diverse roles and this is a field with ample scope for years to come. So think about it, why not take up food technology as a career?

Food Technology Institutes in India:

Some of the premier institutes for Biological Science Course & Skills in Food Technology are as below:

  1. NIFTEM-National Institute of Food Technology, Haryana
  2. Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology, Tamil Nadu
  3. CSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, Karnataka

Besides these, many other colleges offer a course in Food technology. You can check out state wise what colleges would fit you best. 

Registrations Open: Food Safety Officer FSSAI Exam + Food Corporation of India Job Preparation Course

  1. Toxicology

Toxicology is the branch of science that entails the study of the adverse effects of chemical substances on various living organisms. 

Now in this present scenario toxicologists were the ones who claimed that Chloroquine & Hydroxychloroquine Can Fight The Novel Coronavirus. Though more testing needs to be done to confirm the same, it seems like a promising start. 

Finding the cure, vaccine or medicines is not enough, we need to know what the effects, side effects, and adverse effects the treatment can have on living cells. Here is where toxicologists come in. 

 Toxicology Institutes in India:

  1. CSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow
  2. Society of Toxicology, India, Lucknow (an offshoot of CSIR-IITR)
  3. Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi
  4. NIPER, SAS Nagar, Ahmedabad, Raebareli, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata.

NIPER and Jamia Hamdard have admissions to a pharmacology and toxicology Biological Science Course that you can enroll for once the call is made every year.

  1. Vaccine Design & Drug Development

As you are well aware the first question asked while speaking of Coronavirus “Is there a vaccine yet?” Scientists all around the world are racing against time to develop a vaccine because the world is in dire need of one.  

So what is Vaccine Development?

Vaccine Development involves the process of taking a new antigen or immunogen identified in the research process and developing this substance into a final vaccine that can be evaluated through preclinical and clinical studies to determine the safety and efficacy of the resultant vaccine.

But it is not an easy process, it involves an elaborate process that includes Pre-clinical Development and Clinical Development. In the First stage which is normally carried out on animals or lab assays. It involves discovery and screening of the relevant antigens, the creation of the vaccines, the efficacy and whether they follow the protocols that need to be considered. In the second stage, is when these vaccines are tested on humans and these trials are further divided into subcategories. 

It is not a simple process and goes to show how important vaccine development is. There are no shortcuts to this process and scientists work overnight and in a time crunch to try to save as many people as soon as possible. Judging by how fast a virus is known to mutate, we will always be in need of newer vaccines in the years to come. So do consider taking this direction in your career, there will never be a dearth of viruses that afflict mankind.

Add this Skill To Your CV: Vaccine Design & Development Certification Course

What is Drug Development?

Similar to vaccine development, drug development also has a process to it. It starts off with the research for a drug or rediscovery or repurposing of an existing drug is carried out, then they undergo basic safety testing on animals and lab assays, they are then tested on humans to make sure they are effective and safe after which the last hurdle to cross is getting it approved by the relevant authorities. 

In this pandemic, scientists are working overtime to develop vaccines and drugs to make it available to the world as soon as possible. The best brains in the Biosciences R&D Industry all over the world are working to find a solution for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This just goes to show how important a scientist, researcher, healthcare worker’s role is in controlling an outbreak of this magnitude. We all have to work in tandem to ensure to save as many lives as possible. 

If anything, I hope this pandemic opens our eyes to the possibilities that science has and sparks some curious minds to aid the world in its time of need. It should now without a doubt be a priority of the government to invest more in science and R&D. The world should never be brought to a standstill of this nature in the future. 

This article discussed Best Biological Science Course & Skills one can opt for.

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