Life Sciences: Top Universities, Career Opportunities, and Applications

Life Sciences- an overview

By definition, life science refers to the study of living organisms from the most simple unicellular organisms to complex ones like human beings, animals, fungi, and plants. 

Life Science is a field involving advanced biology, also commonly called Biological Science. It is a booming industry and a demanding course to pursue, majorly because of the advancement of science and technology in this generation. Life Sciences is an inspiring discipline of studies that requires in-depth research and analyses but has immense potential overall.

Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Ecology, Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular biology, etc. are different fields of Life Sciences.

Considering a career in life sciences?

 After completing a degree in life sciences, students are offered various career opportunities.

Genetic Engineering and biotechnology

There is a vast scope for jobs in genetic engineering and biotechnology for students. Students can opt for careers in research or as assistant professors. They can also enter into the agriculture and food industry or even opt for genetic counselling. There are ample opportunities in hospitals, genetic diagnostic laboratories and scientists in forensic labs. 

Genomics

Scientists and many professionals around the globe are using discoveries in genetics to revolutionize the world. This implies that ample career opportunities are booming in genetics and genomics. Some popular choices among them (across academia, healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry or even under the government) are:

  • Computational Genomics and Data Scientist

  • Technology Development

  • Genomics Researcher

  • Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) Research

  • Genomic Medicine Clinician

  • Clinical and Laboratory Geneticist

  • Genetic Counsellor

Proteomics

This industry especially demands students interested in protein and analytical chemists, bioinformaticians, biochemists and business development officers.

 

Bioinformatics

There is a wide variety of job roles in pharma and biotech industries as well as in healthcare and academia. Jobs range from:

  • Bioinformatics Scientist

  • Research Scientist

  • Biostatistician

  • Microbiologist

  • Bioinformatician

  • Zoologist

  • Wildlife Biologist

  • Molecular Biologist

Biomaterials

The various job roles for students interested in this field are:

  • Bio-mechanical engineers

  • Biochemical engineers

  • Bioinstrumentation

  • Biomaterials engineers

  • Biomechanics

  • Clinical engineering

  • Dialysis engineers

  • Genetic engineers

  • Rehabilitation engineering

  • Systems physiology

Epidemiology

Generally, epidemiologists can be grouped into two categories- Research, and Clinical. Career opportunities in this field are:

  • Survey researchers and statisticians

  • Community health workers

  • Veterinary Epidemiologists

  • Pharmaceutical epidemiologist

  • Molecular Epidemiologist

  • Disaster Epidemiologist

  • Supervisory Epidemiologist

  • Infection Control Epidemiologist

Microbiology

Microbiology is a popular subject among science graduates. Students taking up this course can look out for jobs like:

  • Research Assistant

  • Food, Industrial or Environmental Microbiologists

  • Quality Assurance Technologists

  • Sales or Technical Representative

  • Clinical and Veterinary Microbiologists

  • Medical Technologists

  • Biomedical Scientist

  • Clinical Research Associate

Food science

A career in food science has immense scope. Popular FMCG companies are dependent on food scientists for product development and research. Some popular job roles in food science are:

Food technologist:

Production, Operation, Quality Assurance, and Quality Control

Research & Development:

  • New Product & Process Development

  • Marketing & Sales

  • Business Development & Marketing analysis

  • Procurement & Supply chain management

Application of life sciences

1. Agriculture

Life science is applied widely in agriculture. It is used in engineering better seeds, crops, fertilisers and manure etc. For example, biotechnology and genetic modification- a branch of life sciences, has been pivotal in creating crop varieties that can withstand harsh environments. It is also applied in livestock and poultry farming. 

2. Human health

Life science on health, or health care, are core subjects of the curriculum. Life science aids in-depth research of diseases and disorders, which is studied under epidemiology. Life science also helps in managing patient health thus promising a better and healthier life.

3. Stem cell technology

Stem cells are the body’s raw material. They are pluripotent i.e. they have the potential to develop into many different types of cells in the body. Stem cell therapy promotes the repair response of diseased, dysfunctional or injured tissue. It has the potential to prevent the need for organ transplants as well.

 

4. Precision Medicine

An emerging approach for disease treatment- which takes into account individual variability in genes (nature), and environment (nurture). This allows medical practitioners and researchers to accurately predict which treatment and prevention strategies will work for the target group.

5. Environment Management

Life sciences enable an understanding of the environment and other living species with whom we share the earth- this knowledge guides conservation efforts and really helps us save our shared planet.

Top Universities for studying Life Sciences in India:

  • Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneshwar, Odisha (Under Dept. of Biotechnology, Government of India)

  • Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

  • SRM University, Chennai

  • University of Delhi

  • National Institute of Technology, Rourkela and Durgapur

  • Manipal University, Noida

  • Amity University, Karnataka

Top Universities for studying Life Sciences abroad:

  • Australian National University, Australia

  • Yale University, USA

  • Harvard University, USA

  • Imperial College London, UK

  • Virginia Tech, USA

Written by: Anmol Arora & Kasturi Gouri