A program that focuses on the scientific study of genetic structures and mechanisms of organisms, including bacteria, phages, and viruses. Includes instruction in the replication, expression, transfer, structure, maintenance, and stability of heritable information in DNA, RNA, and proteins; the regulation of these processes; and neurogenetics.
Molecular geneticists work to understand the molecular structure and activity of DNA.
Deoxyribonucleic acid, better known as DNA, consists of a complex array of molecules with a distinct hereditary chemical pattern. It is present in most living organisms and contains encoded information that can be expressed as physical traits. Molecular genetics is focused on the structure of these molecules and the ways it can contribute to genetic variance. Molecular geneticists also work with RNA and proteins, and they can encounter all kinds of interesting structures and activity at this level.
Molecular science is seen by many as a good bet for the future, and it is a frontier for all kinds of fascinating experimental work. Some molecular geneticists work with recombinant DNA to produce new hybrid genes; others develop protein therapies that can be used to treat ancient diseases such as hemophilia. Each contribution to the field could have a range of applications in agriculture, medical science, and more - it's just a matter of perfecting the science.
Work in molecular genetics may include...
- Using specialized techniques and software to visualize molecular activity
- Performing tests on genetic material
- Analyzing and presenting data on findings
- Planning trials and conducting experiments
- Developing new applications for molecular components and processes
Most jobs in molecular genetics are research positions in medical or academic settings, or with biotechnology companies and industry labs. Many molecular geneticists contribute their skills to pharmaceutical development, particularly RNA vaccine development. Some teach or lecture, and others apply their scientific knowledge to designing marketing materials or regulatory policies for advances in genetics.
The best way to learn about molecular genetics is to pursue a Bachelor's degree in molecular biology. These four-year programs often include study of pathogens, viruses, and biochemistry, as well as data analysis and generous amounts of lab time. Molecular biology is primarily a research science, and most graduates go on to Master's and PhD programs, where they are able to ask and answer questions in their chosen specialty area.
It seems incredible that such tiny structures could hold the key to so many medical mysteries and industrial issues, but every day molecular geneticists find new ways to apply their work to real problems. If you feel driven to join them, maybe a career in molecular genetics is the path for you.
For more information, please follow the links below:
- The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is an international organization that aims to promote understanding of the molecular nature of life processes.
- The Society for Molecular Biology & Evolution connects molecular evolutionists and provides resources for molecular biologists.
- 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.