Geneticist

Research and Development

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Genetics is a field of biology that studies genes, heredity, and genetic variation. Genetic variation includes how genes become mutated or are involved in disease and aging. Environmental genetics examines how environmental factors interact with genes to cause disease, or enhance the adaptation FutureGrowthModerate of a species to its environment.

A geneticist is a science who studies genes, including how they are inherited, mutated, activated, or inactivated. They often study the role that genes play in disease and health. Environmental geneticists specialize in studying the interactions between genes and environmental factors that lead to adverse health effects, disease, and aging.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

To become a geneticist, you would need:

  • an enquiring mind
  • practical scientific knowledge and skills
  • good IT skills
  • the ability to think clearly and logically
  • to work well as part of a team
  • good problem-solving skills.


Duties and Tasks

Geneticists study the inheritance of traits. They may focus on these events at the molecular, organism, or population level. Some treat people with genetic disorders. Many environmental geneticists try to understand how environmental factors or exposures interact with genes to cause disease.

Environmental genetics often deals with epigenetics - the process by which parts of the genome can be "turned on" or "turned off" by external environmental factors. While many traits are set in stone by genes, others are more flexible and may or may not end up being expressed. For example, if you're predisposed to a certain condition or trait due to your genetic makeup, you may or may not develop it on your own. However, being exposed to certain environmental factors such as diet and stress may cause that part of your genome to activate and be expressed. For example, genetics may make some people more susceptible to adverse health effects related to environmental factors like air pollution. Many environmental geneticists study how these interactions work.

Others study ecological genetics to expand our understanding of the role genetics plays in species' adaptations to changing environments. Ecological geneticists use population genetics for the conservation, management, and genetic improvement of species. For example, they calculate the reproduction and survival rates of a species or community. They use their knowledge of genetics to identify at-risk species and increase their genetic diversity. Some research how to genetically engineer plants that can adapt to climate change.

Did You Know? 

'Black and white twins' born from the same egg for first time in the UK

https://youtu.be/8bB9PPjp04o

 

Read about how Geneticists can explain this unusual occurrence in The Conversation 18 March 2016

The Conversation
 


Geneticists may choose to teach post-graduate university studies, but many go into applied or theoretical research in order to consult in their area of specialization. They evaluate, test, and diagnose patients who have hereditary conditions, gene mutations, and genetic risks.

Additionally, they serve as a resource to refer patients experiencing genetic complications to other medical professionals for direct treatment of a genetic condition.

While jobs do vary, most geneticists find that the following list of tasks falls under their scope of practice:

Regardless of specialty, most geneticists perform many of the same tasks. For example,

  • They plan or conduct genetic research on gene expression and other topics.
  • They keep laboratory notebooks that record their research methodology, procedures, and results.
  • They review and interpret lab results using mathematical and statistical methods.
  • Geneticists must keep up with scientific literature to learn about new methods, tools, and results in the field, and use that information to inform their own research.
  • They often write grants or attend fundraising events to fund their research projects.
  • They share their research results by writing academic journal articles and presenting at professional conferences.
  • Test patients for gene or hereditary markers for a variety of risks and mutations
  • Assess and consult with potential patients regarding genetic risks and potential mutations
  • Review scientific literature and research to stay abreast of updates to the field
  • Counsel patients hat have familial or personal histories of gene mutation
  • Counsel patients who may have abnormal screenings or test results
  • Help patients determine best treatment or planning course of action
  • Consult with other healthcare providers, advocates, and community partners in order to educate and advocate for patients
  • Assist colleagues and peers with research endeavors
  • Assist with laboratory support and maintenance to ensure health and safety requirements are met

 

DNA RNA
(Source: Biochain)

 

Senior geneticists often have broader responsibilities that include management of a lab or healthcare team. Such responsibilities often include:

  • Consulting with policy-makers and other stakeholders regarding the use and interpretation of genetic information
  • Advising outside agencies and researchers
  • Creating scientific reports and articles for internal or external partners or the general public
  • Engaging in the design and development of data collection and analysis techniques
  • Providing input for software programs to support predictive modeling of gene expressions
  • Planning, organizing, and participating in community outreach programs for people who have been impacted by genetic risk and mutation
  • Ensuring that systems and methods of design, planning, data analysis, modeling and projections, associated documentation and development meet the goals of the workgroup and stakeholders
  • Creating funding applications and reporting to senior administrators
  • Overseeing team budgets, milestones, and systems
  • Assisting and mentoring team members
  • Establishing valid and efficient workgroup protocols
  • Ensure standards of confidentiality are met in the healthcare setting

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