I began writing this book while employed by a major Midwestern company which was at the time venturing aggressively into the biotechnology arena. It grew out of an original work which was, in its infancy, a photocopy text containing quite a few handwritten notes, which attested to its evolving nature. Within the company, it was in demand.
As time went on, I noticed that a plethora of individuals, representing departments ranging from marketing and sales to engineering, legal, and human resources, were involved in various ways in the critically important process of gaining commercial success for our biotech products. It also became apparent that many of the players had little or no formal training in the bio and chemical sciences, yet their work required that they have an understanding of the biotech buzzwords and concepts in use. I felt that this pattern was bound to repeat itself in other companies, and that because of this there existed a large audience which could benefit from an understanding of the biovocabulary.
To this end I have attempted to write the text in terms which would enable the reader to conceptualize the idea embodied in the word, without the necessity of holding advanced biochemisty and molecular biology degrees. In order to accomplish this, however, I had to make certain compromises between scientific rigor and definitions based on analogy, with the inherent possibility of oversimplification. Nonetheless, throughout the text, emphasis has been placed on explanation by analogy whenever possible. And although I may be cited for oversimplification, I feel that this is compensated for in that it will be easier to grasp the underlying idea.
I offer this work in good faith and in the hope that it will assist those individuals who seek to gain and understanding of the terminology as it is currently used. However, the reader should be aware that the field of biotechnology is rapidly expanding and evolving, and that new terms are entering the mainstream nomenclature at a rapid pace. In fact, the exact meaning of some of these terms is still under dispute, while the meaning of others will undoubtedly be expanded or narrowed as the technology develops. Although I have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible, this work is meant to provide a general introduction rather than to be absolute and legally definitive.
Since what is loosely known as biotechnology covers such a wide and diverse field, I have included terms from biology, biochemistry, medicine and chemistry. In seeking terms and definitions I have borrowed freely from books, journals, industry periodicals and my friends.
I hope that this brief text will enable a better understanding of the complex ideas and techniques presented in today's biotech work environment.
KIMBALL R. NILL
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