Emerging Career Opportunities in Molecular Medicine and Stem Cell-Based Regenerative Medicine Fields


Arvind Chhabra
Professor & Director, Stem Cell Institute
Amity University Haryana

Molecular medicine and stem cell-based regenerative medicine are two emerging fields with significant growth opportunities. The field of molecular medicine deals with understanding the intricacies of disease development process, development of effective diagnostic tools and technologies for an early diagnosis of different diseases, and development of effective therapeutic modalitiesto treat these diseases. The field of regenerative medicine,on the other hand,aims to utilize adult as well as pluripotent stem cells (PSC) of embryonic origin, the fountain of youth, for replacing damaged cells, tissues and organ systems of the human body. Both these fields offer significant hopefor addressing prevailing technologicalchallenges in the field of modern medicine. At the same time, they also offer opportunities to the Central as well as State Governments to build innovation driven industries that would provide plenty of employment opportunities. With Government of India working on developing India as a global hub of medical tourism, molecular medicine and stem cell-based regenerative medicine industries can play significant role in realizing this dream also. However, needless to mention, availability of a well-trained workforce is primary requirement for this. We here take a brief overview of the molecular medicine and regenerative medicine fields, and the emerging career opportunities they offer.

Stem Cell-Based Regenerative Medicine:Human body is comprised of different organ systems that work in unison throughout our life. All our cells and organ system develop from common ancestor cells, known as the human embryonic stem cells (hESC), the natural PSC. These organ systems are seeded with organ-specific progenitor cells, known as adult stem cells, that are responsible for taking care of normal wear and tear in these organs, and replacing old and worn out cells with young and fresh cells, throughout our life. As we age, the quantity as well as the quality of our stem cell reserve declines. Furthermore, cellular, tissue and organ damage, in response to different disease conditions, or due to accidents, also requires timely replacement to save patients` lives. The regenerative potential of PSC can be harnessed to meet the increasing demand for cell, tissue and organ replacement. In this context, recent advances such as derivation of donor-specific induce pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines and utilization of these iPSC lines to generate desired cell lineages different therapeutic applications, have opened up significant opportunities in the field of regenerative medicine.

The biotech industry, which has just started to gain momentum, is already totaling to billions of dollars and providing millions of jobs around the globe. More than 350 million patients worldwide are benefitting from this industry. As of today, more than 50% of the medicines and procedures in the healthcare industry are obtained in the biotech era.

Apart from healthcare, agricultural and industrial biotech are the two other sectors which are already leading the market. Beer fermentation to vitamin production, biotech industries are serving the cause for last 30 years. With climate resilient rice, pest resistant crops, potato chips that are healthier and, apples which will not turn brown after cutting, agricultural biotechnologists are literally playing God.

Biotech is one of the most exciting sectors at the moment. No other sector has the same promise of extraordinary rewards for investors as biotech stocks. Globally, Google to Microsoft, Gates Foundation to Wellcome Trust, everyone has invested in this market. In India, Reliance Jio, Tata, and Biocon are few names who have made ambitious jumps into this ocean of opportunity. The biotech industry requires Governmental policy decisions that support innovation and risk–taking as well as a public that is well informed about how biotech is creating a healthier, greener, more productive and more sustainable economy. Truly speaking, at present the cause is well-backed by almost each Government on Earth.

For biotech to truly reach its full potential, the industry needs experienced personnel with technical knowhow. This is the perfect time we build the human resource and expertise required to run this industry. With such a broad spectrum of companies and roles within the sector from development to manufacturing,fromprotection of intellectual property and legal affairs to commercial release and ethical laws, you can’t go wrong with a move into or developing your skillset within biotech if you are looking for a long-term career path. This industry will require millions of professionals in the next thirty years.

Apart from the industry, academic researchers, and scientists, like myself, are the pillars of the platform on which the industry is standing. This is also a fascinating career. If you are young and feel passion for science and biology, enjoy what you are doing, academic research is also a good career for you. As a scientist in biotech, you can choose your direction, can participate in a great era of discovery, can travel worldwide with respect, can have flexibility in working hours, and finally have a feeling that you gave something back to the society where your parents and children breathe. The future of biotechnology will be stronger with people like you.

Amity Medical School