CRISPR has undoubtedly been a breakthrough discovery in recent times that has revolutionised molecular biology and has the potential to even transform our planet. The scientific community has already embraced the CRISPR/Cas9 system to address issues related to health, food security including agriculture and animal breeding, and biofuel production; yet much remains to be explored.
A lot of job opportunities already exist in all these fields of CRISPR technology related to research in academic institutes and organisations, and biotech companies. The opportunities are further expected to increase as the application of the CRISPR/Cas system expands and these are highly paid jobs. Furthermore, since the field of CRISPR technology is still in its infancy, there are a lot of scopes to prove your skill and merit in this field.
In academic and research institutes or universities, you can apply for a research position in an on-going project, or you can apply for a doctoral or postdoctoral research position. For this, you need to select a potential guide who is interested in exploring the CRISPR/Cas system and its applications. Research publications and on-going research projects of the potential guide will help you get an insight into his/her research interests. Doctoral research would involve developing a novel research problem addressing different aspects of the CRISPR/Cas technique and/or its applications. Prior to developing the research problem, do remember to conduct an extensive literature search to be aware of the research that has already been done, and applications that are currently being explored in the field of your interest. After successful completion of doctoral research, postdoctoral research can be initiated to gain further expertise and knowledge in the niche field. Irrespective of the research career that you choose, you need to remain updated with the current advancements in the field and its future prospective.
In addition to academic research, there are a growing number of small and large pharmaceutical and biotech companies that are not just exploring CRISPR/Cas genome editing technology for healthcare services but are also in constant search of creative scientists who are capable of developing and offering solutions that can help to overcome existing challenges. The companies primarily focus on developing next-generation biotherapeutics based on CRISPR/Cas9 and other variants. In addition, there are numerous agro-based companies involved in crop improvement using CRISPR technology. Therefore, early-career scientists have enormously growing career opportunities in these companies that are interested in basic and clinical research.
When applying for a position, do remember that a strong knowledge background in CRISPR technology is essential in addition to other skill sets, and your knowledge should be further strengthened with your job experience. When applying for any job, you should be open to learning any additional techniques such as RT-PCR, cDNA synthesis, protein purification, immunochemistry techniques, separation techniques, relevant software, computation methods, etc. that might be required. In addition, your job profile might require data collection, processing, and analysis. You can also opt for hands-on-training or on-job training and skill enhancement programs that are imparted in various research laboratories and companies. These programs and workshops are specifically tailored to assist people with diverse backgrounds and expertise to gain the skill set needed to efficiently deliver their work responsibilities, and thus should be attended.
Additionally, working on CRISPR technology will require you to work both independently with minimal supervision, as well as in collaboration with cross-functional teams within the same organisation and/or different organisations and institutes. In addition to hard work, a successful candidate is expected to be self-motivated, dedicated, and should have the capacity to think ‘out of the box’ to develop solutions for potential challenges.