The Field of Biotechnology

South San Francisco: The Birthplace of Biotechnology Photo of Genentech

Biotechnology is the manipulation of organisms or their parts.

The biotechnology industry is vast and has varied applications under four domains:

Medical/Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

  • Medicines from plants, animals, fungi
  • Medicines from genetically-engineered cells
  • Monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies
  • Vaccine and gene therapy
  • Prosthetics, artificial or engineered organs and tissues
  • Designer drugs and antibiotics
Agricultural Biotechnology
  • Breeding of livestock
  • Breeding of plant cropsHorticultural products
  • Asexual plant propagation and plant tissue culture
  • Transgenic plants and animals
  • Production of plant fibers
  • Pharmaceuticals in genetically-engineered plant crops

Industrial and Environmental Biotechnology

  • Fermented foods and beverages
  • Genetically-engineered proteins for industry
  • DNA identification/fingerprinting of endangered species
  • Genetically-engineered cells for bioremediation
  • Biopolymers
Diagnostic Biotechnology
  • DNA and protein synthesis
  • DNA and protein sequencing, genome projects
  • Genetic testing and screening
  • DNA identification and fingerprinting, forensics
  • Bioinformatics, Microarrays
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)ELISA, Western Biots, protein identification, purification
  • Nanotechnology

The industry provides employment for professionals with various levels of education ranging from certificate programs from community colleges to MDs and postdocs.


Professionals with science backgrounds who are employed by the biotechnology industry:

  • doctors
  • nurses
  • medical researchers
  • biomedical engineers
  • microbiologists
  • genomics specialists
  • biophysicists
  • toxicologists
  • chemists
  • laboratory technologists
  • agricultural scientists
  • botanists
  • animal scientists
  • food scientists
  • biofuel experts
  • forensics

Other professionals employed by the biotechnology industry:

  • human resource specialists
  • sales representatives
  • marketing experts
  • lawyers
  • statisticians
  • technical writers
  • accountants
  • business administrators
Most companies favor employees who also have a background in science.

Biotechnology sector jobs in California:

  • 281,000+ jobs
  • 2600+ new openings annually
  • 8700 businesses
  • 116,000+ average income
  • 4.4 billion in venture capital invested


Genentech employee with lab coat, gloves, and goggles Genentech cell lab
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