Stem Cell Research, an emerging career in India

Cells, tissues, and soon organs, will be kept for a long period of time under -180 degree centigrade, and centuries later, the same cells, tissues, or organs will be taken out, thawed and brought back to life. It’s not science fiction, its science.

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Have you ever dreamt of working for technology of the future? Well, that dream is now possible because ‘stem cell research’ is emerging as one of the latest career options for youngsters, willing to take on a variety of challenges.

So, what exactly does ‘stem research’ involve?

It is an advanced level of biological research carried out by people from diverse science background to find new therapies for various ailments. The next level leading from stem cell research is ‘stem cell therapy’.

Stem cell treatment or therapy refers to introducing new adult stem cells into damaged tissue to treat a particular disease. For instance, stem cells from bone marrow and umbilical cord have been used to treat leukemia. Stem cell therapy also holds the potential to treat a variety of other serious ailments, such as, Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, Parkinson’s disease and a variety of cancerous conditions. The field of stem cell research and therapy offers exciting career options for people looking for something different.

Are only medical professionals eligible for a career in stem cell research and therapy? The answer is no. There is a general misconception that only people with medical education background can be employed in stem cell therapy. In fact, students of basic biology too can find jobs in stem cell research and therapy. B.Sc graduates with at least one subject of Biological Sciences; MBBS or B.Pharma or B.D.S or B.VSc or B.E. Biotechnology can find jobs in stem cell research.

This emerging branch of biomedicine needs quality and trained manpower. With the global market of biomedicine expected to reach US $20 billion by 2013, excellent career opportunities will be available to post graduate students from diverse science fields. India is a major Biotech player in the Asia pacific region, coming next Japan, South Korea. Malaysia is also well catching up. Karanataka and Bangalore in particular is major hub in work related to Stem Cells.

At the international level, career in stem cell therapy has taken off in a big way. Students in Europe, Australia and USA, have the option of pursuing their research career in developmental biology, tissue engineering, embryology, medical biotechnology, molecular biology, cell biology, nanotechnology, clinical research and stem cell biology. It provides multiple options to the students to even pursue higher studies in basic biology and applicative translational field.

Stem cell research as career in India

Stem cell research is among the most rapidly growing fields of science in India as several institutes are researching newer therapies. In India, stem cell biology is emerging in both basic science and clinical applications. Even The Government of India through its agencies like DBT, DST, ICMR has started investing funds to support basic and translational research in this field of science.

Additionally, with a large number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and prominent stem cell institutions carrying out pioneering research in stem cell therapy, the opportunities for students are immense. It is estimated that the investment in Stem Cell Research in India is more than Rs 1000 crores. Most of the investment in stem cell research in India is in the government sector.

There are several opportunities for science graduates to pursue a career in stem cell research and therapy in India. From a chief scientific officer to lab assistant, the opportunities are several.

However, a basic science degree is not sufficient to find a job in such firms. An exclusive training to understand the working style and requirements of the industry is an added advantage. There are several institutes that offer such training.

Some of the institutions that offer Stem Cell courses are:

  • Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  • National Centre for Biological Science (NCBS), Bangalore
  • National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune
  • National institute for Research in Reproductive Health, Mumbai
  • Manipal Institute of Regenerative Medicine (MIRM), Bangalore
  • Centre for cellular and molecular biology (CCMB) Hyderabad
  • L V Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad
  • Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Chennai
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras
  • Sri ChitraTirunal Institute for Medical Sciences in Technology,Trivandrum
  • National Institute of Nutrition
  • National Institute of Immunology
  • M.S University Baroda

Some of the pioneering companies which offers careers in this sector:

  • Bangalore-headquartered Stempeutics Research, Pvt. Ltd , is one of the leading stem cell companies in India.
  • Mumbai-based Reliance Life Sciences
  • Bangalore-headquartered Cryo–Save India is a part of Cryo-Save Group, Europe’s largest adult stem cell storage bank
  • StemOne Biologicals Pvt. Ltd. Pune etc
  • Ree Labs Mumbai

Candidates, who want to move ahead in their career, have the option of pursuing the following courses, such as, M.Sc in Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Zoology, Biophysics, Microbiology and Life sciences. M. Sc Regenerative Medicine is only at MIRM Bangalore a unique and exclusive course. Post the completion of education, one may choose from starting their carrier, in Quality, R&D, Production, Clinical Research, Supply Chain, and Human Resources besides Finance and other administrative functions.

The compensation offered is also competitive. As a beginner, an eligible postgraduate can earn up to Rs 30,000 per month and after obtaining a Ph.D. one can earn more than Rs 50,000 per month. When these Ph.D holders are recruited abroad as postdoctoral fellows, they can earn annually US$ 35000 to 40000 OR in Euro 25000 to 30000.

Author Dr. Ramesh Bhonde, Ph.D, is also the  Professor & Dean, Manipal Institute of Regenerative Medicine. He can be reached – Mobile: +91 9686010498
For details on carrier opportunities in Stem Cell based organization, one may reach Vijayaraghavan – Head of HR and Shared Services, Stempeutics Research @ [email protected]

Related Reading

A Guide to Academia:
Getting into and Surviving Grad School, Postdocs and a Research Job
Prosanta Chakrabarty

ISBN: 978-0-470-96041-7
Paperback | 192 pages | February 2012

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by India Education Diary, India.

One thought on “Stem Cell Research, an emerging career in India

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