Stem cell research is emerging as one of the most viable career options for youngsters, willing to take on challenges, says VIPUL JAIN.
Stem cell research is emerging as one of the most viable career options for youngsters, willing to take on a variety of challenges. So, what exactly does stem cell research involve? It is an advanced level of scientific research carried out by people from diverse science backgrounds to find new and efficient therapies for various ailments. The next level leading from stem cell research is stem cell therapeutic procedures.
Stem cell treatment or therapy refers to introducing new adult stem cells into damaged tissue to treat a particular type of disease. For instance, stem cells from the bone marrow, adipose tissue and umbilical cord (embryonic stem cells) have been used to treat many chronic diseases. The therapy also holds the potential to treat a variety of other serious ailments, like Type 1 diabetes mellitus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and a variety of cancerous conditions. The field of stem cell research and therapy offers lucrative career options for people looking for something different and revolutionary in the field of medical science. Very recently, a child afflicted by Autism and a young woman suffering from rheumatoid arthritis have been completely cured through stem cell therapy, where conventional treatment procedures failed to yield positive results.
Key areas where stem cell therapy can result in effective treatment are neurological conditions, Orthopedics, Chronic Kidney Diseases, COPD and other Lung diseases, Liver Diseases, Cardiology, Autoimmune disorders, Ophthalmology diseases, Infertility and Cosmetic Procedures.
Is it true that only medical professionals are eligible for a successful career in stem cell research and therapy? The answer is in the negative. There is a general misconception that only people with medical education background can be employed in stem cell therapy space. In fact, students of basic biology too can find jobs in stem cell research and therapy. BSc graduates with at least one subject of Biological Sciences, MBBS or BPharma or BDS or BVSc or BE Biotechnology students can find jobs in the stem cell research domain.
The stem cell therapy market in India was valued at Rs 1 billion in 2013 which is expected to reach Rs 2 billion by the year 2018. India is projected to witness a rise in the number of stem cells banks and stem cells depositor in the near future. Liberalisation of stem cell research and Government support due to the rise in the incidence of chronic diseases is the major factors aiding this growth gradient. Stem cell banking which was unheard of a few years ago has become popular in the recent past as a relatively less traumatic alternative to treat neurological conditions.
This emerging branch of regenerative medicine needs quality, skilled and trained manpower. With the global market expected to touch $40 billion by 2016, excellent career opportunities will be available to post graduate students from diverse fields.
India is a major biotech player in the Asia Pacific region, coming next to Japan and South Korea. Malaysia is also catching up. Karnataka and Bangalore, in particular, is a major hub in work related to stem cells. We could say careers in stem cell therapy have taken off in a big way.
Students in Europe, Australia, USA and now even in India have the option to pursue 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 is among the most dynamic fields of modern medicine 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, through its agencies like DBT, DST, ICMR has started investing to support basic and translational research in this field of science. Agreed, stem cell therapeutic procedure is at a nascent stage considering the lack of regulatory body for standardisations, the future holds a lot of scope.
Moreover, 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 1,000 crore. There are several opportunities for science graduates to pursue a career in stem cell research and therapy in India. From a doctor to a lab assistant, the opportunities are several and highly rewarding.
Aspiring candidates today have the option of pursuing the following courses: MSc in Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Zoology, Biophysics, Microbiology and Life Sciences; MSc in Regenerative Medicine is only at MIRM, Bangalore.
One can choose to start one’s career in quality, R&D, production, clinical research, supply chain, and human resources besides finance and other administrative functions.
As a beginner, a postgraduate can earn up to Rs 30,000 per month and after obtaining a PhD one can earn more than Rs 50,000 per month. When PhD holders are recruited abroad as postdoctoral fellows, they can earn, around $35,000 to $40,000 or Euro 25,000 to 30,000, annually.
The writer CEO, Advancells