How the Biotech Industry in China is Changing the Medical Translation Game

March 16, 2016 |

By Sarah-Claire Jordan

medical translationFirst of all, what is biotechnology? This is a huge question right now, and it isn’t super simple to answer, but here goes: Biotechnology is essentially taking living things, whether they be organisms or systems, and using them to design and produce products. The main areas that biotech is being used in right now are agriculture and medicine, with medicine being the area that has drawn the most publicity. China in particular is making huge advances in terms of investing in biotechnology, and it has gotten to the point where medical translators in particular are really paying attention.

But exactly which part of the medical and healthcare industry does China’s biotech investment touch upon? So far, it has been mostly in the form of creating new prescription drugs to help with all sorts of diseases and conditions, as well as mapping the human genome. This second project is probably the most important, as cures for any number of genetic conditions could be created with this information. The SARS virus has already been mapped by a Chinese NGO specialized in genome mapping, as well as the genome of the giant panda. Imagine what they could do with new drug development with this information at hand.

BGI, or Beijing Genomics Institute, is the NGO behind these breakthroughs, and even though it is privately funded, there are enough investors to keep it going until they crack the genetic code for human intellect, for example, and more. The method for genome mapping that they have pioneered is faster than any other method used before, so the real powerhouse for genetics is now in China. Cancer and diabetes research is something that they are working on right now, and hoping to spread the knowledge they glean to other countries and organizations.

This brings up the importance of having exceptionally-trained medical translators on board with various projects in China. If that is where these biotech advances are being made, then medical translators need to be right there with the scientists, researchers, and doctors who are involved to help them accurately translate their research and methods into as many languages as possible. Without these translations, no non-Chinese speaker will be able to replicate any of it in another country and allow their people to reap the benefits.

The main issue here is that most of the researchers, doctors, and scientists working on these biotech projects are either Chinese-educated or studied in a foreign country and then returned to China to set up shop. This means that, though many probably have a good level of English or some other language, they aren’t necessarily focused on getting their findings out into the world in as many languages as possible. This needs to become a priority, and medical translators need to be ready to take on the workload involved. China may have the largest population in the world, but the rest of us need to be able to use this research as well.

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Category: Business Translation

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