Difference Between Biotechnology & Biomedical Engineering

The fields of biotechnology and biomedical engineering share some similarities but also have distinct differences. We'll examine the respective responsibilities and focus of the two fields.

Comparing Biotechnology to Biomedical Engineering

Biotechnology and biomedical engineering advance biological medicine and equipment. Whether creating artificial hearts to improve and prolong lives, or testing soil to determine the health of a crop field, those in these fields improve our lives.

Responsibilities of Biotechnology vs. Biomedical Engineering

Both biotechnology and biomedical engineering require teamwork. While scientists in biotechnology develop new medicines through tireless testing, those in biomedical engineering find new ways to replace limbs and organs. Another task of biomedical engineering is to create medical equipment that can save lives, while that of biotechnology is to keep agricultural plants healthy. There are many similarities and differences between these two professions, though both utilize the scientific method while working with organisms.


In its simplest terms, biotechnology uses biological processes, organisms and cells to create new technologies and products. Biotechnology is used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create larger and more sustainable crops, and develop life-saving treatments and vaccines for illnesses. Given its broad scope, biotechnology can be found in a variety of careers, including biopharmaceuticals, environmental health and safety, epidemiology, and microbiology.

Common responsibilities in biotechnology include:

  • Growing cultures of unknown bacteria and viruses to help identify the organism more easily
  • Collecting samples in the field and preparing them for laboratory testing
  • Using microscopes, slides, scales, and test tubes
  • Drawing logical conclusions while interpreting data

Biomedical Engineering

As the name implies, biomedical engineering applies the principles of engineering to the medical field. Biomedical engineering encompasses several sub-disciplines that range in focus from artificial limbs to medical devices/implants, and stem cells to medical imaging. Some developments made by this field include artificial organs designed and tested in a laboratory, body parts grown in laboratories and used as replacements, and machines that can help doctors diagnose medical issues more accurately and efficiently.

Common responsibilities in biomedical engineering include:

  • Developing technology and devices to assist doctors during surgical procedures
  • Researching existing technologies to either improve and/or find new applications for use
  • Designing prosthetics and other ''wearables''
  • Writing and publishing technical reports to keep medical professionals and other biomedical scientists aware of current developments

Related Careers

As someone looking into the biotechnology profession, you may also be interested in microbiology, as these careers utilize similar equipment and techniques to study living organisms at a microscopic level. If you are interested in biomedical engineering, you may want to research chemical engineering, as both of these careers require research that will benefit people.

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