WKU launching Molecular Biotechnology major this fall

A new Molecular Biotechnology major is the next step in the evolution of the genetics program in WKU’s Department of Biology.

“This major builds on the strength and history of the department and responds to growth in the biotechnology industry that has become more prevalent throughout Kentucky,” said Biology Professor Sigrid Jacobshagen.

Genetics and applied research have been part of the DNA in the Department of Biology for a number of years, and the Molecular Biotechnology major can trace its roots to WKU’s Recombinant Genetics program and an Investigative Biotechnology major.

The new major, which will begin with the Fall 2018 semester, is a perfect fit for WKU’s mission to become a student-centered, applied research institution and the state’s mission to develop a workforce trained for high-tech jobs, said Dr. Ajay Srivastava, associate professor of Biology.

Students in the Molecular Biotechnology major can be part of new developments such as genomics, personalized medicine, cloning, organoid research and genome editing. The skills acquired may be applied to the development of new pharmaceutical drugs and other medical products, industrial chemicals, food products, energy sources, pollution-control products or agricultural products. 

 “The biotechnology industry is growing. Finding a good job that pays well is relatively easy,” Dr. Srivastava said. “Graduates also may use their training to continue in higher education in Ph.D. or medical programs.”

Dr. Jacobshagen said the new major should boost student recruitment efforts by WKU and the Department of Biology. “We hope to recruit students from all over Kentucky,” she said.

The major requires a minimum of 55 hours of molecular biotechnology-related courses in biology that involve subjects such as genome discovery, molecular biology, microbiology, bioinformatics and research experience or an internship, among others. Students also are required to complete supporting courses in mathematics, chemistry, physics and workplace-related issues like team building or project management.

“This program would appeal to students who are motivated, students who are curious about biotechnology and students who want to climb up the Hill with us,” Dr. Srivastava said. “You should be motivated, you should have an idea of bettering yourself and you should be interested in experiential learning.”

For information about the Molecular Biotechnology major, visit https://www.wku.edu/biology/mbiotech/

Contact: Ajay Srivastava, (270) 745-6008; or Sigrid Jacobshagen, (270) 745-5994

Posted with permission from WKU News

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