Biotechnology is the application of the principles of biology, biochemistry, microbiology and molecular biology for medical, industrial, agricultural and environmental uses. Department of Biotechnology, the executor of the direct Ph.D. program in biotechnology in university of Tehran, was established in the academic year 1999-2000. The direct Ph.D. program in this department is designed to provide students with an understanding of principles and applications of biotechnology and broad knowledge and training in the scientific and practical aspects of biotechnology through courses, hands-on laboratories and project-based research experience and dissertations. What makes this program unique is its straight Ph.D. structure that attracts the most brilliant and talented students from high school. Admissions are semi-centralized and rely on interviews with candidates as well as their academic records and achievements. This program is highly interdisciplinary and the students are required to take courses in basic sciences as well as engineering disciplines.
The curriculum is structured into three separate phases:
Phase I (equivalent to Bachelor's in Sciences): consists of coursework in basic sciences, medical, and engineering courses. Students are also required to show proficiency in a computer programming language prior to completion of this phase.
Phase II (equivalent to Master's in Sciences): In this phase, the students select one of the five specialized fields in biotechnology: (i) Microbial and Environmental biotechnology, (ii) Medical biotechnology, (iii) Molecular biotechnology, (iv) Agricultural biotechnology and (v) Bioprocessing and biochemical engineering. In addition to completing the required courses for the specialty of their choice, the students are also required to take and successfully pass the TOEFL test. Upon the completion of this phase the students are required to submit and successfully defend a Master's thesis.
Phase III (equivalent to Ph.D. in Biotechnology): During this phase, the students are engaged in full-time research upon completion of which they prepare and submit a doctoral thesis. They are also required to pass a qualifying exam prior to starting their doctoral thesis.
The students are given the option of terminating their studies upon the completion of each phase. In these cases, they will be awarded the degree equivalent to that phase, i.e. B.Sc. upon the completion of phase I and direct M.Sc. after phase II. Graduates are prepared for careers in biotechnology and can find employment in academic/research institutions and related industry.
Currently department of biotechnology has about 70 students and 5 faculty members. The faculty members have active scientific collaborations with various distinguished academic centers such as Freie Universität (Berlin), Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane), Harvard University (Cambridge), University of Illinois (Champaign) and Masaryk University (Brno). At the moment there are six laboratories actively involved in research projects and training:
- Laboratory of advanced medical biotechnology,
- Laboratory of tissue engineering and nanotechnology,
- Laboratory of molecular biotechnology,
- Laboratory of systems biology,
- Laboratory of sequencing
- The training laboratory.
The research areas of focus and strength being pursued in these laboratories are: stem cells, biomaterials, tissue engineering, nanotechnology, microfabrication, epigenetics, medical biotechnology, systems biology, bioinformatics, protein biotechnology, genetic engineering, genomics, metagenomics, animal barcoding and medical genetics (with emphasis on neurological and eye diseases).