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What is Biotechnology?

Simply put, biotechnology is a toolbox that solves problems.

Biotechnology leverages our understanding of the natural sciences to create novel solutions for many of our world problems.  We use biotechnology to grow our food to feed our families. We use biotechnology to make medicines and vaccines to fight diseases. And we are now turning to biotechnology to find alternatives to fossil-based fuels for a cleaner, healthier planet.

We often think of biotechnology as a new area for exploration, but its rich history actually dates back to 8000 B.C when the domestication of crops and livestock made it possible for civilizations to prosper. The 17th century discovery of cells and later discoveries of proteins and genes had a tremendous impact on the evolution of biotechnology.

How Biotechnology Works

Biotechnology is grounded in the pure biological sciences of genetics, microbiology, animal cell cultures, molecular biology, embryology and cell biology. The discoveries of biotechnology are intimately entwined in the industry sectors for development in agricultural biotechnology, biofuels, biomanufacturing, human health, nanobiotechnology, regenerative medicine and vaccines.

The foundation of biotechnology is based in our understanding of cells, proteins and genes.

Biologists study the structure and functions of cells—what cells do and how they do it.  Biomedical researchers use their understanding of genes, cells and proteins to pinpoint the differences between diseased and healthy dells.  Once they discover how diseased cells are altered, they can more easily develop new medical diagnostics, devices and therapies to treat diseases and chronic conditions.*

*Paraphrased from How Biology Drives Biotechnology; Amgen Scholars—the Scientist.