Geneticists work with hereditary material in biological organisms.
Living things pass on their traits as they reproduce, creating unique patterns of molecular material that determine the form of the organism. The core component of this material is DNA, a long molecule in the form of a strand that contains a wealth of encoded information. The information in DNA can be interpreted by proteins in order to express genes, which are responsible for physical traits as well as certain conditions or behaviors. Geneticists are tasked with making sense of this code. They work to understand the genetic origins of humans, plants, and animals, as well as the ways their genes impact their lives.
There are many applications for genetics, from clinical treatments to agricultural developments. Genetic testing is regularly used to determine an individual's susceptibility to certain inherited conditions, and scientists have found ways to manipulate genes in beneficial and interesting ways. Geneticists collaborate frequently with other specialists including physicians, engineers, ethicists, and evolutionary biologists to make the most of the discipline's potential.
Work in genetics may include...
- Testing DNA samples and interpreting genetic code
- Developing new gene therapies
- Collecting and recording complex biological data
- Analyzing genetic data using statistical models
- Conducting research and experiments
Genetics has a presence in a number of fields. Many geneticists work for agricultural or pharmaceutical companies, where they develop disease-resistant super-seeds or treatments that target genetic material. Biotechnology is closely intertwined with genetic engineering, and new jobs in the sector continue to appear. Academia is notoriously competitive, but employs qualified research professionals to teach, lecture, or run labs and projects. Medical research in genetics extends into hospital labs, but rarely involves clinical work. Government and private labs also employ geneticists, and workers with training in the field often work as policymakers, scientific writers, and marketers.
Most geneticists start their studies in undergraduate programs. The structure of a four-year Bachelor's degree in either genetics or biology can provide students with useful context and essential lab skills, especially with supporting coursework in microbiology and biochemistry. Sometimes graduates are able to find jobs in the field, but many opt for a Master's degree to gain more experience. Those who are committed to a career in research tend to pursue PhD programs, where they can conduct independent study and work with prominent scientists in the discipline. Some geneticists enroll in medical school or another specialty program where they can apply their knowledge.
Genes make up more of our world than many realize, and geneticists are continually learning from them. If you're interested in cracking life's most intricate codes, a career in genetics could be the way to do it.
For more information, please follow the links below:
- The Genetics Society of America is a scholarly society that seeks to deepen our understanding of the living world by advancing our understanding of genetics.
- Genetics is a journal focused on genetics and genomics that publishes empirical studies of organisms ranging from microbes to humans, as well as theoretical work.
- The American Society for Human Genetics works to advance human genetics and genomics in science, health, and society through excellence in research, education, and advocacy.
- The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics is a professional membership organization that represents all medical geneticists, including clinical geneticists, clinical laboratory geneticists, and genetic counselors.
- The American Genetic Association encourages the study of comparative genetics and genomics in the interest of organismal diversity and has published its Journal of Heredity for over a century.
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