Cell & Molecular Biology Career
Cell and Molecular Biology is a field of biology that studies cells and the macromolecules such as DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates, that define their structure and function. It also includes the study of biochemistry, physiology, genetics, immunology, and cytochemistry. This field is extremely vast in terms of fundamental research as well as applications in pharmaceutical, agricultural, medical and industrial fields. A career in Cell and Molecular Biology can be embarked upon studying BSc., B.Tech., MSc., Ph.D., etc.,
Courses that can be taken and eligibility requirements
BSc. in Cell and Molecular Biology is a pretty narrowed downfield for an undergraduate degree where you are encouraged to explore broader fields of study. Many colleges do offer a BSc. in Molecular biology as well as BSc. in Cell biology. But to broaden one’s perspective of biology and its applications, one can take up B.Tech. in Biotechnology or BSc. in Life Sciences/Biological Sciences. You can major in broader fields like zoology, botany, microbiology, genetics, biochemistry, biotechnology, bioinformatics, etc., where Cell and Molecular Biology is part of the syllabus.
For specialization, a better understanding of the field, and better career prospects in it, the individual can further take up Master’s in Cellular and Molecular Biology or MSc. in Cell Biology or MSc. Molecular Biology. This can also be taken up by students who have a Bachelor’s degree in agriculture, medicine, dental, pharmacy, veterinary, etc., with the minimum aggregate percentage required.
The MSc. course is offered in several institutes, and the individual can enroll in the program while strengthening research skills through projects and certificate courses and training for techniques used in the field. These techniques may include cell culturing, tissue culturing, techniques used for molecular characterization such as gel electrophoresis and PCR, as well as biophysical and biochemical techniques such as HPLC, GLC, NMR, etc.
A Ph.D. can be pursued in Cell and Molecular Biology if one wishes to focus on academia related to the field. Although the field has applications in many fields as mentioned above, there are mostly opportunities for research. Individuals with Master’s in any field of biology along with the minimum required percentage can apply. Government institutes and several other institutes offer a fellowship that can be obtained by clearing competitive exams such as CSIR-NET, GATE, ICMR, ICAR, DBT, etc.
List of institutes offering the course/s
Institutes offering courses in Cell and Molecular Biology are:
- MS University of Baroda, Gujarat (5-year Integrated MSc. program in Cell and Molecular Biology)
- IIT Kharagpur (Integrated MSc-PhD in Chemical and Molecular Biology)
- MS Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences, Bangalore (MSc. Cell and Molecular Biology)
MSc. Molecular Biology is offered by:
- Indian Agricultural Research Institute
- Mahatma Gandhi Mission Institute of Health Sciences
- Jawaharlal Nehru University
- University of Madras
- University of Delhi
- Bangalore University
- Mysore University
- Kannur University
- The Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University
- Dravidian University
- Hyderabad University
Some universities offer molecular biology along with other subjects. For example, Pondicherry University offers MSc. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and Manipal University offers MSc. in Molecular Biology and Human Genetics. Also, some of these universities like Manipal University and Mysore University conduct entrance tests for their MSc. programs.
Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology can be pursued in all CSIR institutes, the most suitable of which are:
- CSIR-CCMB (Cell and Molecular biology)
- CSIR-Imtech (Institute of Microbial Technology)
- CSIR-CIMAP (Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants)
- JNCASR (Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research)
Jobs related to this field
People who hold a Bachelor’s degree can work as laboratory technicians. They can also be biology teachers.
MSc. graduates in Cell and Molecular Biology have better job opportunities such as:
- Molecular Biologist
A molecular biologist studies molecules or different parameters that affect them. They get down to the genetic level and study and define what processes can affect the functioning of a gene and how they can manipulate it to their advantage.
- Cell Biologist
Cell Biologist studies how a cell develops, what is the purpose of said cell, what are the functions and interactions it has with other cells in a system etc. The genetics of the cell also plays a vital role in its study, hence cell biology often studied along with molecular biology to gain a better understanding.
- Genetic Counsellor
Since we are talking about genes here, a genetic counselor is someone who provides information on the inheritance of certain illnesses and their risks, he/she deals with patients with regards to their families and what options they have when confronted with these results. These individuals can be employed in clinics, hospitals, companies, and scientists in order to help interpret and market the results. They have a major role to play especially in healthcare when it comes to policymaking and also the dissemination of information.
- Molecular Lab Specialist
As mentioned previously, armed with a Cell & Molecular Biology degree, you can find your place in a company as a Molecular Lab Specialist. The job description entails handling, planning, and executing protocols with respect to the current project a company is focusing on.
A pathologist works with body fluids and tissues. Pathology helps to provide a clearer picture of any health or medical issues a patient is suffering from. A doctor’s diagnosis can be confirmed from the interpretation of the results provided by the pathologist.
As an epidemiologist, your role would be to detect the cause of the disease, the source, the outcome, the risk factors involved, and also you will develop a plan on how to control and stop the spread of said disease. And also come up with solutions on how to prevent it from happening again. This is an opportune time to look for opportunities in this field since we are still in the midst of the pandemic.
A toxicologist studies the effects of chemicals on living systems. To possibly understand the good and the bad effects of chemicals, an understanding of the cell and molecular levels of the system in a study is necessary. You will be involved in conducting experiments and recording and analyzing the data which will be useful to study the risks and safety of a product being used.
- Forensic Analyst
A forensic analyst will be working with lawmakers to help solve crimes. A thorough investigation of the crime scene with strict protocols followed to collect and analyze the evidence. Since the job involves a combination of pathology & toxicology work, molecular and cell biologists can forge a career in this field.
- Clinical Research Specialist / Clinical Research Assistant in Hospitals
Clinical Trials are the need of the hour now. As long as there are clinical trials, there will be a requirement for Clinical Research Assistants/Associates & Specialists. You will be hired either by the government, companies, or hospitals based on the type of clinical trials. The main job description includes conducting experiments, designing and executing protocols, and interpreting the results. Be it humans or animals, a cellular and molecular level understanding is required, and hence cell & molecular biologists can find a footing in this field.
- Scientific Manager
- Product Manager
- Sales Executive in Pharmaceutical and Medical Industry
- Technical specialist
- Regulatory Affairs Executive
Certain companies will need people who can understand the results and also market them to the target customers. Sales Executives, Technical Specialists, Regulatory Affairs Executive, Scientific & Product managers need to know how the product works through and through to be able to make a good sales pitch, knowing the technical jargon is an advantage and if you have the academic backing and the gift of the gab then this is the job for you.
- Laboratory Operation Head
With enough industry experience, you can head the ops for a huge lab. You will oversee the planning and execution of experiments. Design experiments and even give your suggestions on how to improve certain systems or processes.
- Research Associate (can rise to higher positions of Research Assistant, Research Officer, Senior Project Associate, Principal Scientist)
Major Employment areas are in agricultural research services, botanical surveys, hospitals, horticulture, medical research, medical labs, genomic labs, etc.
With a Ph.D., one can get a higher-level job in the R&D department of pharmaceutical, medical devices, forensic and industrial companies. You can also teach as Assistant Professors in educational and research institutes.
Companies hiring Cell and Molecular Biologists
- Piramal Group
- Indian Immunologicals Ltd.
- SRL Diagnostics
- Bharat Biotech
- Panacea Biotec
- Serum Institute
- PI Industries
- Biogenex Lifesciences Pvt. Ltd.
While the average salary of a postgraduate in this field is about 15,000-30,000 per month, the salary of a Cell and Molecular biologist can range from 1.8 LPA to 8.5 LPA depending on the qualifications and experience of the individual.
Cell & Molecular Biology Career
With researchers realizing the importance of minute cells and the understanding of their mechanisms as well as the molecules in them, the scope of this field is only increasing. The fields individually or as an integration of cell biology and molecular biology are best suited for research as one can find great scope for discovery and innovation. However, due to the need for faster methods of diagnosis and characterization during these times of the pandemic, there is a greater need for specialists in the fields in the medical and pharmaceutical industry.
Author: Deepthi Prakash