Key Elements of a Biotechnology Course

Like any course, biotechnology curricula are based on program goals. The materials must be relevant to the subject and support laboratory processes. Along with developing student skills, the course should discuss workplace opportunities in the field.

Biotechnology courses have two main focuses:

  • Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts

o   Scientific methodology

o   Experimental design

o   Research and development

o   Computer software

o   Data analysis

o   Standard operating procedures and instruments

o   Pharmaceuticals

o   Agricultural products

o   Industrial products

o   Biodefense

o   Food safety

o   Environmental issues

o   Overview of research/manufacturing applications and industries

o   Potential career tracks

  • Hands-on lab experience with key biotechnology skills and methods

o   Gel electrophoresis

o   Bacterial culture

o   Data analysis

o   Molecular modeling (ball and stick, space fill)

o   Solution prep

o   Cell culture

o   DNA/protein isolation and assays

o   Recombinant DNA protein production

o   Bioinformatics and databases

Comprehensive textbooks and documentation can help foster an understanding of scientific methods and support literacy in biotechnology, bioscience vocabulary, and real-life workplace conditions. An appropriate lab manual must focus on biotech laboratory skills, lab procedures, and appropriate ethics. In your class, be sure to include support materials for teachers and students alike — they help with instruction, reinforcement, and remediation. You can address continuing education with workshops and other support.

The above information is the property of Ellyn Daugherty, founder of the San Mateo Biotechnology Career Pathway (SMBCP) and author of Biotechnology: Science for the New Millennium, Second Edition, 2017. For more information, visit