Biotechnology is the application of science and engineering to the innovative use of living organisms in the creation of new products that improve the quality of our food, our health and our environment. Biotechnology, as specialization within Biology, is important in areas such as the development of new methods for the diagnosis of disease, the genetic modification of agricultural crops and animals. While Biotechnology is considered a relatively new area of life science, it actually dates way back in human history with the use of microorganisms in the fermentation of wine and beer or the making of bread and cheese. At York, Biotechnology students receive the rigorous science training necessary to study and work in this exciting and rapidly expanding field while enhancing their science education by taking courses that explore the social, legal, ethical and business aspects of the field.
Biotechnology at York is offered as a stream in the Specialized Honours Biology program. A carefully selected set of courses combines the science and the socio-economic aspects of biotechnology to prepare you for an extensive list of employment possibilities or graduate studies.
In your first year as a Biotechnology student at York, you will take courses in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science and Economics. Second-year courses will include Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Statistics, Organic and Analytical Chemistry and Ethics. In the final years of the program, you will have the opportunity to enhance and refine your knowledge of the theory and practice of molecular biology, biotechnology, and biochemistry while taking additional courses in Environmental and Advanced Analytical Chemistry, Management and Business, Finance and Accounting. All students are required to complete an Honours Thesis course, which may provide the opportunity for first-hand experience in independent research and current laboratory technique.
Facilities and Opportunities
The Biology Department at York has been recognized nationally for offering unusually extensive laboratory training to its undergraduate students. The new Life Sciences Building, expected to open this summer, will house state-of-the-art undergraduate laboratories, an advising office and a learning commons dedicated to first-year life science students. Combined with faculty members who are active researchers, these facilities provide students with exposure to cutting edge research.. The professors who teach in the Biotechnology stream are involved with innovative and exciting research and are passionate about the courses they teach.
As a graduate of this highly structured program, your combined knowledge of the required technology and conceptual scientific precision will allow you to pursue employment in the developing field of biotechnology – one of the fastest growing applied sciences today. Employment opportunities exist in emerging fields such as genetic engineering, genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics as well as agriculture, medicine and the pharmaceutical industry. As a graduate of this program, you will also be prepared to take on positions in the management and marketing of biotechnology as well as in policy positions within various levels of government.
While the Biotechnology program is designed to prepare you for a career in biotechnology, it will also provide you with a solid foundation for graduate level studies in molecular genetics, cell biology and biochemistry or for professional programs such as medicine, law and business.
If you major in Biotechnology your courses in first year will probably be:
• Computer Use
• Micro Economics
• Macro Economics
In second year you will probably take:
• Cell Biology and Biochemistry
• Statistics for Biologists
• Organic Chemistry
• Analytic Chemistry
• a general education course
Courses you might take in upper years include:
• Molecular Biology
• Management and Business
• Finance and Accounting
• Honours Thesis
• Industrial Chemistry and the Environment
• Instrumental Methods of Chemical Analysis
• Regulation of Gene Expression
• Human Molecular Genetics
• Eukaryotic Genetics
• Plant Molecular Biology
• Genetic Stability and Change
• Cell Regulation
• Membrane Transport
Career options for Biotechnology majors include:
• Government Positions – Research and Development, Regulation
• Industry – Research and Development, Clinical Research, Quality Control, Regulatory Affairs
• Marketing and Sales, Direction and Development
• Biostatistician/Biostatisticial Analyst
• Clinical Research
• Agriculture (GM foods)
• Graduate Studies/Academic Career
• Education – elementary, high school, college, university
• Health Sciences – clinical research, biomedical research, lab management, genetic counsellor, diagnostic
• Professional schools – Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Law, Business, etc.