A program that focuses on the scientific study of whole genome sequences and patterns of gene expression. Includes instruction in molecular and cellular biology, genetics, protein technologies, genomic sciences and techniques, bioinformatics, and scientific and research ethics.
Careers in genomics focus on understanding the structure, sequence, function, and origin of entire genomes.
A genome consists of the totality of an organism's genetic material. Each individual gene is made up of DNA, which contains a mass of code, and the genes of complex creatures can be based on hundreds, thousands, or millions of these DNA units. Each type of living organism has its own genome, and they vary in complexity; mapping the human genome was a colossal undertaking that took 13 years for scientists to complete. Today, advances in data storage, mapping, and organization have made it possible to understand and work with genomes in their entirety. This is genomics.
Genes interact with each other and with their environments in unique ways that can only be understood as a whole; each individual cell contains an organized hierarchy of structures containing base codes and instructions for making its organism, piece by piece, cell by cell, protein by protein. The code within DNA is a chemical sequence made up of units called nucleotides, which can be represented by the letters A, T, C, and G - the specific order and combination of these letters determine the overall effect of the DNA, and researchers can search through them to spot changes at the submolecular level that might lead to disease or genetic abnormality.
Work in genomics may include...
- Isolating DNA and RNA for analysis and sequencing
- Using computing and modeling techniques to process large amounts of biodata
- Preparing and organizing libraries and databases
- Developing new technologies and applications for genome editing
- Analyzing and recording data
Genomics is a growing field limited by computational capacity, time, and regulations; we are only just getting to the point of developing workable genomic therapies. Because of this, most formal genomics research occurs in government settings, university labs, specialized medical research facilities, and various corners of biotechnology. However, genomic diagnostics are becoming more common, and genomic technicians can be found in healthcare settings. Physicians and nurses are finding new ways to incorporate genomics into specialized care; some think it's only a matter of time before genomics is everywhere.
Studying genomics is a long-term commitment; most students begin with Bachelor's degrees in biology or genetics. These programs include undergraduate coursework in biochemistry, molecular biology, mathematical data analysis, and bioinformatics, along with a great deal of lab work in gene sequencing. Some graduates find work as lab technicians or research assistants; others seek additional credentials, entering Master's degree programs, PhD tracks, or medical school. Licensed physicians often still pursue graduate degrees in order to gain first hand experience with sequencing, and may require additional training in computational biology or a related area.
Many believe that genomics represents the future of science. If you want to make your mark on that future, you may have a long career in genomics ahead of you.
For more information, please follow the links below:
- The National Human Genome Research Institute was responsible for the initial sequencing of the human genome and continues to collaborate with the scientific and medical communities to enhance genomic technologies that accelerate breakthroughs and improve lives
- 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 Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society promotes scientific knowledge and research into the causes and consequences of damage to the genome and epigenome to ensure a healthy, sustainable environment for future generations.
- 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.