Enzymes of Career Opportunities

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” ― Isaac Asimov

Shivai Gupta

In a society where the convention is the rat race, having a different ideology and planning to do justice to a different career path that deviates the norm, is difficult. For a field in its nascent phase, and a country where engineering was governed by the information technology branch, taking up something in the life sciences domain other than being a doctor such as Biotechnology was something that wasn’t supported 6 years ago.

“The problem with R&D is it’s not always consistent. It’s not like engineering where you can incrementally innovate and make another version of the iPhone.”-Merck CEO Ken Frazier

It takes time, perseverance and labor to understand what governs the formation of life. From providing food security to the world, to curing a disease as complex as cancer, Biotechnology is a field both diverse and powerful. I started by taking up a combination of Physics, Chemistry and Biology in class 12 and never analyzed that they were the raw materials that would facilitate the foundation of my entire career. They said the Pre Medical test was the only resort, in rebuttal I said there was more to it. What wasn’t comprehended was you need to be the best at what you do. It doesn’t matter what field you are in.

The foundation of my story, with an introduction to the field, was laid in Jaypee University of Information Technology, which was small, but had a lot to offer.

Choosing your career is the most emphatic decision you will ever make in your life. It stays with you longer than everything and everyone else, and it never disappoints, as the more you give in it, the more you grow.

From understanding the smallest complexities that govern the growth of a cell, to providing sustainable solutions for the world the power of a Biotechnologist lies in the fact of being able to not only understand but change the basic attributes that govern life.

I studied biotechnology as a field of engineering and I am roaming the world because of it. I came to the United States in 2015 for an MS Biotechnology program at Georgetown University. It gave me insight after having learnt from the leaders of some of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world that it is necessary to take a leap of faith.

Because, “the good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

Life cannot have had a random beginning … The trouble is that there are about 2000 enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 10^40,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup.

I was taught to think beyond the lab, beyond the scope of exclusively research and development. Despite having about 9 publications I chose a degree with a focus on bio-business. I learnt the basics of marketing, commercialization, strategy, planning and development, intellectual property and policy with a focus on the biotechnology industry. There are about 4,000 companies on the east coast of the United states alone, that require skilled individuals, which have the knowledge and resource base of the biotechnology industry and all the qualities of an MBA making them a technocrat in the real sense. In the words of Elon Musk, “money can be made anywhere and in any field, you just need to be great in it and need to grab opportunity at the right time.”It is all about the complete utilization of resources. For those who dream of research, there are a million problems to be solved that don’t have the man power as well the brains for developing breakthrough technologies and the funding for development is massive.

After having done research in leading centers in India and finishing my Masters program, today I work at the United States Food and Drug Administration as a research associate and at the end of the day what makes me sleep at night is the fact that I facilitated research for solving a global problem- no matter the contribution being small. I learnt something new in the plethora of information the field has to offer.

So in the end I would conclude by saying if I can reach the United States, based on the love for the living, somewhere something is waiting to be discovered and it is your desire that will fuel the hunger to succeed. In all true sense sanity will calm you, but madness for something will definitely be more interesting. 😉

Shivai Gupta

Research Associate- United States Food and Drug Administration



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