Monday, June 3, 2013

Six Things You Didn’t Know About Molecular Biotechnology

Molecular Biotechnology. When you say it, it is such a mouthful!

When people hear that this is what I am studying, their most common remark would be: “Wow! It sounds so profound! What is it?!”

And my often repeated answer would be: “It’s basically biology in a very big package!”

While this answer sounds generalised, I feel it summarises what my course is about. We learn everything about biology; from cell biology to human biology to microbiology! Yet, in this massive biology course, there are still many things that we have yet to learn. Just to pique your interest, here are six things you never knew about my course:

Number 6 – The Science of Life

As much as this is obvious, Molecular Biotechnology belongs to the School of Chemical and Life Sciences. Many people do get confused because they think Molecular Biotechnology is related to technology or even engineering. But we deal more with living organisms than materials or thermodynamics.

Number 5 – We Handle Bacteria

In Molecular Biotechnology, we have modules that deal with viable micro-organisms. What in the world does viable mean? Well, it just means the ability (of a living thing) to survive. The work we do in this course is definitely exciting.

Number 4 – Technology is Essential

Biotechnology actually involves a lot of technology. Wait a minute, you thought there wasn’t much technology involved? Well, we need equipment to observe and study organisms. Therefore we need microscopes, PCR machines (Thermal Cyclers) and more.

Number 3 – We get to Extract DNA

We learn how to extract DNA - the molecule at the very core of each of us, the fundamental molecule which makes each human different. Not only do we learn to extract it, we also learn how to read it and estimate its molecular weight.

Number 2 – We Prick our Fingers Occasionally

In several of our modules, we actually have to prick ourselves to obtain blood to study it. Students have to count the number of cells in a slide, and we also got a chance to test our blood type!

Number 1 – Making Medicines

And, finally the number 1 most interesting thing is that in Molecular Biotechnology is that most medicines in the world were invented in biotechnology labs, including antibiotics like penicillin. This is why we have to study everything to do with biology. We need to know all we can to help improve the health of people.
Did you enjoy these six juicy nuggets? If so, maybe I’ll see you in my course next year!

By Ignacious Tay Yun Yun, Year 1, Diploma in Molecular Biotechnology 

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