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CAREER GUIDE

Two promising options for pharmacy graduates

Photo: R. Shivaji Rao

Industry specific: Research students at work at the Bioinformatics laboratory of Presidency College, Chennai.

Several higher study options are available to pharmacy graduates who have valid scores in the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) or the Common Admission Test (CAT) of the Indian Institutes of Management. M.Tech. in Biotechnology or Bioinformatics, M.Pharm. or MBA (pharmaceutical management) are among the options.

M.Tech. Bioinformatics

It is an interdisciplinary field of science and technology in which biology, computer science and information technology are merged to form a single discipline. It may be defined as an interface between biological and computational sciences. Aspirants should have adequate knowledge of biology and computer science. Bioinformatics deals with computational management of all kinds of biological information. Some of the main areas are data mining and analysis for genome projects, protein structure prediction, systems biology and developing computer databases and algorithms for biological research.

Those who have an aptitude in biology and basic knowledge of mathematics, chemistry and computer science may specialise in bioinformatics.

The Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (a deemed university and a centre of excellence in IT, established by the Union government), offers a two-year full-time M.Tech. course. There are 20 seats.

The course emphasises new trends in bioinformatics and computational biology. Course contents include biological database and genetic engineering, computer-aided drug design and delivery, molecular structure prediction and visualisation, proteomics and transcriptiomics, computer model of evolution, computational neuroscience, chemi-informatics, immunocomputing, programming languages and software. Students should submit individual projects and do dissertations. Those who have B.E. or B.Tech. degrees in any engineering branch and valid GATE scores are eligible for admission. M.Sc. or B.Pharm. degree holders with valid GATE scores are also considered. Selection is based on an entrance test and interview. Details can be obtained from the web site www.iiita.ac.in . For the current year’s admission, applications cam be submitted up to May 15.

Some other institutes offering the M.Tech. Bioinformatics are the following:

Bharath Institute of Higher Education and Research (Bharath University) Selaiyur, Tambaram, Chennai - 600 073 ( www.bharathuniv.ac.in).

Shanmugha Arts Science Technology and Research Academy, Thanjavur - 613 402. ( www.sastra.edu).

Sathyabama Deemed University, Chennai - 600 119 ( www.sathyabamauniv.ac.in).

Job prospects are mainly in the field of design and implementation of programmes and systems for the storage management and analysis of biological data, including DNA.

Those who successfully complete the M.Tech. and Ph.D. programmes can find jobs in bioinformatics research and development establishments and pharmaceutical companies. Many information technology (IT) companies offer jobs to bioinformatics specialists.

M.Tech. Biotechnology

Biotechnology is a promising multidisciplinary area that encompasses not only biology and engineering but also subjects such as chemistry, physics and mathematics.

Some of the fast- growing areas in biotechnology are recombinant DNA technology, microbial biotechnology, tissue culture technology and cell biology, immunotechnology and protein engineering. Major application areas of biotechnology are in the fields of health care, pharmaceuticals or medicine, agriculture, environment and animal husbandry.

For a better career, one should secure an M.Tech. or Ph.D. degree or MBA in biotechnology or relevant areas. GATE-qualified pharmacy graduates are also eligible for admission to the postgraduate programmes.

Anna University, Guindy, Chennai, and the West Bengal University of Technology, Kolkata, offer M.Tech. courses in biotechnology. Selection is based on a national-level combined biotechnology entrance examination conducted by Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Entry qualification is a minimum 60 per cent marks in B.E. or B.Tech. in biotechnology, chemical engineering, biochemical engineering, industrial biotechnology, leather technology, biomedical engineering, chemical technology; B.Pharm.; or M.Sc. in biotechnology, life sciences, botany, zoology, biochemistry, microbiology, genetics and so on. Final-year students are also eligible to appear for the entrance test.

Anna University offers 25 seats ( www.annauniv.edu) and the West Bengal university, 15.

Some other institutes and universities offering M.Tech. or ME in biotechnology or industrial biotechnology are: Indian Institute of Technology(IIT)-Kharagpur, ( www.iitkgp.erent.in/mtech); IIT-Madras, Chennai (M.Tech. medical biotechnology, www.biotech.iitm.ac.in); Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, Rajasthan; Centre for Technology, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Kukatpally, Hyderabad - 500 072 ( www.jntuap.ac.in); Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore; University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad - 500 046 (M.Tech. medical biotechnology, www.uohyd.ernet.in); Department of Management Sciences, University of Pune (MBA biotechnology, http://dms.unipune.ernet.in).The biotechnology industry is expected to witness a spectacular growth in India and worldwide. Since biotechnology is a knowledge-intensive industry, it is expected that India will have a competitive advantage.

A biotechnologist, depending on the area of specialisation, can find jobs with biotech or pharmaceutical companies or in chemical, agricultural and allied industries. Biotech research institutes and laboratories provide top-level job opportunities to M.Tech. and Ph.D. degree holders. Alternative work areas include e-marketing, quality control and food manufacturing. Teaching is a good option.

M.Pharm.

The two-year M.Pharm. course provides several specialisations such as pharmacy practice. The College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, Karnataka, under Manipal University, offers M.Pharm. with pharmacy practice as one of the specialisations.

Entry qualification is B.Pharm. with 55 per cent marks in aggregate. Some other colleges and universities offering the M.Pharm. course are: Al-Ameen College of Pharmacy, Bangalore - 560 027; University Institute of Pharmaceutical Technology, Annamalai Nagar - 608 002; Sri. Ramakrishna Institute of Paramedical Science, Coimbatore - 641 044; Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nagpur University, Nagpur - 440 010; Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi - 835 215.

M.Pharm. and Ph.D. degree holders are in great demand in various fields of pharmaceutical research and development. They can also opt for a teaching career.

NIPER

The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), SAS Nagar, Mohali - 160 062, Punjab ( www.niper.nic.in ), offers excellent higher study facilities for meritorious pharmacy graduates. Specialised subjects available here for M.S. (Pharm.) programmes are medical chemistry, natural products, pharmaceutical analysis, pharmacology and toxicology, pharmaceutics, biotechnology and pharmacoinformatics. NIPER’s other programmes include M.Pharm. in pharmaceutical technology (formulations) and pharmacy practice, M.Tech. (Pharm) in pharmaceutical technology (bulk drugs) and MBA (Pharm) in pharmaceutical management.

Pharmacy graduates with 60 per cent marks are eligible to apply for these programmes. Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students require 55 per cent marks. Applicants should qualify in GATE/NET. Admission is based on a national-level entrance test, group discussion and personal interview.

MBA pharma is an industry-specific course designed to groom pharmaceutical management professionals.

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