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Using biotechnology to tackle global wicked problems

Of all the disciplines within Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), some say biotechnology holds the greatest potential for addressing wicked problems of global significance.  Examples such as disease, hunger, and environmental degradation are just a few.

Biotechnology is the use of biological components and/or processes to tackle human problems.  Most often, biotechnological solutions come in the form of products or tools.  For example, a vaccine made from recombinant proteins can be used to prevent disease.   A genetically modified crop may cut down on the use of insecticides.  A molecular diagnostic may identify disease-associated molecules in the clinic or research lab.  Truly successful biotechnological solutions apply scientific understandings within a complex social and political system.  Thus, Biotechnology is an inherently dynamic, innovative, and interdisciplinary field.

The Biotechnology Degree Program at JMU leverages the strengths of three founding departments—Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Integrated Science and Technology—and two colleges—Science and Mathematics (CSM) and Integrated Science and Engineering (CISE)—to provide a unique program with both scientific/technical depth and cross-disciplinary breadth.   Students undertake a rigorous curriculum, rich with hands-on laboratory experiences, critical analyses of both the “how” and the “why” of biotechnological solutions and the development of transferable skills to keep up in a rapidly changing field.   

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