Studies & Degrees in Genetics

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Genetics Study Programs

Level: Undergraduate Bachelors     Location: Villanueva de la Cañada

Genetics is the discipline of Biology which was coined from the Ancient Greek word “genetikos” or genitive and “genesis” meaning origin. It is the science that deals with lineage or heredity and the distinctiveness of living organisms from each other. Gregor Mendel opened the view of the modern science of genetics as the search for the understanding of the course of inheritance during the middle of the 19th century. He was able to observe how each organism inherited qualities through distinct units of inheritance now known as genes. Although what defines an organism are the life experiences it goes through, genetics has played a big part in the physical attributes as well as its behavior of the organism.

Genetics as a science occupies a vitally important position in modern Biology understanding of which is relevant to a student of the life sciences. Even outside the academia, genetics influences all aspects of living from the food we eat to the clothes that we wear, all of which are modified and improved by the methodical application of the level of quality of genetic principles. There are a lot of opportunities offered to undergraduates studying genetics providing them with a multidimensional view of genetics and its wide range of possibilities in genetics research.

Among the Departments that administer Genetics as an undergraduate course are Biochemistry, Biophysics, as well as the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology. Undergraduate degrees are commonly offered by the College of Agriculture and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. For students majoring in other areas of the life sciences such as Animal Science, Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Crop Science, Microbiology, Natural Resources, Plant Biology, Zoology and Poultry Sciences; Genetics is also offered as a minor in order to provide a strong preparation for students regarding the principles of Genetics and Molecular Biology, in addition to the preparation for Statistics and Biochemistry. Most Genetics minors demand at least 18 credit hours, 15 of which are specified and the other three are elective. Every student taking up Genetics Minor courses is required to achieve a “C” rating or better.

Genetics holds a reputation as a notorious course that demands influx of high-volume information in such a short period of time. However, students will be guided more efficiently if they follow studying methods religiously. Among the study methods are know the basic essentials, understand each of the concepts seriously through practice, and chart disorders accordingly.

Among the career opportunities for Genetics are employments in teaching, research as well as other health-related professional occupations. While some find employment right after their baccalaureate training, others pursue their education by undergoing graduate and professional programs and trainings. Graduate students who have a BS or BA degree may be able to find employment in health, food industry or biotechnology. The latest graduates have also enhanced careers in conservation biology, science journalism as well as technical writing, business and genetic counseling.

The salaries for Genetics in the United States range from $42,000 to $50,000 for a Cytogenetic Technologist; $53,000 to $54,000 for a Genetic Counselor; $85,000 for a Statistical Genetic Analyst; $86, 000 for a Research Geneticist t0 $95,000 for a Senior Scientist and lastly, $90,000 to $125,000 for a Medical Geneticist with an MD.

Job positions for Genetics:

Laboratory Geneticist

In the field of Biology, Geneticists are the principals who are among the last front liners. They are the key people who unlock the remaining mysteries of life and living. Geneticists are unique in a way because their working environment which they more or less consider as their home is the laboratory unlike other physical scientists who need to do field work in order to uncover the secrets of their study.

They try to put together piece by piece of a puzzle that primarily involves DNA and heredity. Long hours in the laboratory are considered as perks of the job instead of curse. They are more than passionate about their work to the point that they consider it as an obsession, willingly devoting many years of trial and error just to answer a single question about a genome correctly. Genetics is also involved in most fields where more technological advances can be expected to catch up on research. Among the major fields of Geneticists are medicine, agriculture and solving criminal cases.

Geneticists can work in the laboratory of pharmaceutical companies who are looking for ways to unravel the origins of a specific disease, causes of birth defects and the like, and in turn devise new strategies to avoid or cure them. Those who are involved in this field are married to their work from start to a finish that is indefinite.

Geneticists on the other hand who work in the agricultural laboratories develop crops that can withstand any catastrophic condition or grow to immense sizes. Because of a better understanding of DNA, they can put their knowledge to the test by solving crimes by running tests in the criminal laboratory. As a Laboratory Geneticist, one is expected to apply all learned genetic technologies no matter which area they choose: medicine, crime or agriculture.

To become a Geneticist, you are expected to undergo extensive studies in the physical sciences. One needs to hold a degree as a Bachelor of Science either in Chemistry of Biology although it is also acceptable to take up any physical science course so long as it complements Biology as a minor study. To excel as a Laboratory Geneticist, one is also expected to hold more than a Bachelor of Science degree for if so, there is only a little room for expanding the career. A master’s degree in Genetics is not even enough to command authority in research and development thus one should pursue a Ph.D. or M.D. After completing an undergraduate degree, the norm is to spend four to six years of school having the first two years taking advanced classes while the remaining years doing personal research projects. Usually research projects are being granted by universities, the government or by a private pharmaceutical company. This project serves as your circum vitae which can earn you extra points influencing a company’s decision to hire you or not. The main point in getting a fine job as geneticist is to possess more advanced degrees in order to move faster up the ranks.

Medical Geneticist

Medical Geneticists are highly-trained in diagnostics studies as well as therapeutic procedures for patients who have diseases that are genetically-linked. These specialized training make use of modern cytogenetic, radiological and biochemical testing to provide assistance in specialized genetic counseling, application of necessary therapeutic interventions and cater to prevention through prenatal diagnosis. It is the responsibility of the Medical Geneticist to plan and coordinate large-scale programs related to screening of inborn errors of metabolism, hemoglobinopathies, abnormalities in chromosome structure and neural tube defects.

The training required for Medical Geneticists is two to four years. The board does issue multiple general certificates for the following areas of Medical Genetics:

  • A Clinical Biochemical Genetics Certificate which can be obtained if the Geneticist demonstrates competent skills in performing and translating biochemical analyses important to the diagnosis and management of genetic diseases targeting humans and is also a consultant concerning laboratory diagnosis of a wide range of disorders concerning inheritance.

  • A Clinical Cytogenetics Certificate through the demonstration of competence in delivering laboratory diagnostics and clinical interpretative services handling chromosomes associated with cancer and other inherited disorders.

  • A Clinical Genetics Certificate through the demonstration of proficiency in handling comprehensive diagnostic, management and counseling services for those who are at risk in acquiring clinical disorders with a genetic inclination.

  • A Clinical Molecular Genetics Certificate through the demonstration of proficient skills in performing and translating molecular analyses significant to the diagnosis and management of genetic diseases in humans, and also plays as a consultant on laboratory diagnosis of a wide range of inherited diseases.

For the subspecialties of Medical Genetics, an additional training and examination is required for certifications in Molecular Genetic Pathology and Medical Biochemical Genetics.

The scope of Medical Genetics includes many different areas which include even the clinical practice of physicians, nutritionists, genetic counselors, activities in the clinical diagnostic laboratory and extensive research into the causes of inherited genetic disorders. Among the conditions that are within the scope of medical genetics are birth defects, mental retardation, autism, metabolic and mitochondrial disorders and many others. Medical Genetics has recently been becoming increasingly significant to various common diseases. It often overlaps with the other specialties of medicine as the latest advancements in genetics are illuminating etiologies for systemic: neurological, endocrine, pulmonary, cardiovascular, ophthalmologic, renal dermatologic and even psychiatric conditions.

The existing practice in the clinical setting is where patients or clients are being evaluated identifies the scope of practice, diagnostics and therapeutic interventions. The typical patient and genetic practitioner encounter may involve:

  • A referral to an out-patient genetics clinic which specifically caters to any growth bracket: pediatric, adult or combined or if preferred by the patient, an in-hospital consultation most often done for diagnostic evaluations.

  • For the management of inborn errors of metabolism, skeletal dysplasia or lysosomal storage diseases, patients are encouraged to seek help in the specialty genetic clinics.

  • For prenatal counseling, prenatal genetic clinics discuss with the patient that risks of the pregnancy, laboratory results as well as prenatal diagnosis such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.

In the United States, there are a number of careers paths for the Medical Genetics field naturally differing considerably. It is the American Board of Medical Genetics who issues board certifications for clinical, counseling or diagnostic subspecialties. It takes four years of college, four years of Medical schools, two to three years of primary residency, and another two years for Residency in Clinical Genetics. For a Geneticist to acquire a PhD degree, another four to seven years is necessary.

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