How is it that some people have blue coloured eyes, while others have brown? Why are few people fairer as compared to others? Why are some children born obese or with an inherent mental disorder?
The answers to all these questions lie in Genes.
Genes are the basic units of heredity and determine how traits such as eye colour, hair colour, facial features and predisposition to diseases are passed on from one generation to the other.
Genetics, the study of these genes and their variations, is now a blooming field in India and is reaching new heights. It is an upcoming field of science and technology that can open a wide vast number of opportunities for students. So, let me take you through its career path, colleges, opportunities and more.
What is a Career in Genetics About?
Genetics majorly focuses on hereditary conditions, inherited diseases, as well as the application of genetics research to the development of pharmaceutical and agricultural products. The study of Genetics has created a major breakthrough in branches of cancer research, unborn defects, DNA samples, etc. A Geneticist works in both medical and scientific fields to gain a better understanding of mutation, reproduction and cell growth.
The work of a professional in the field of Genetics typically consists of detecting genotypes, keeping records of genetic ailments, detecting faulty/misfired genes, employing mutation techniques, analysing test results, etc. After having conducted tests or experiments, they prepare reports for clinicians and clients (patients), explaining them the results of their analysis.
Unveiling the mysteries enclosed by our genes requires sophisticated techniques and profound knowledge of science, biology and related areas.
Basic knowledge of science subjects is thus deemed necessary to pursue this course. If you are an aspiring student looking forward to build a career in Genetics, you would have to opt for Physics, Chemistry and Biology as your primary subjects in class 12th.
Top Colleges for Genetics in India
There are a lot of colleges that provide a three-year B.sc or 4-year B.Tech in Genetic Engineering. Alternatively, students can also opt for life sciences and biology courses at the undergraduate level, and go on for an M.Sc. in the Genetics field.
You will also have the option to pursue a doctoral degree (PhD) further on.
Some colleges that offer UG & PG courses in Genetics are:
- The Oxford College of Science (Bengaluru)
- Guru Nanak Dev University (Amritsar)
- Bangalore City College (Bengaluru)
- Avanthi Degree College (Hyderabad)
- University of Calicut (Calicut)
- Garden City College (Bengaluru)
- Institute of Genetic Engineering, Kolkata
Who Hires Geneticists? Where Do They Work?
Genes constitute a significant aspect of microbiology, biochemistry, cancer research, unborn defects, mutation, reproduction, etc. Hence, their study is applicable to a wide array of domains that affect living organisms and their lifestyle. From a clinical geneticist to a nutritionist who gives diet plans based on genes, Geneticists can work in various capacities for many different types of employers.
Some employment areas where you can work after studying Genetics are: Hospitals, Military, DNA Forensics Departments, Universities, Consultancies, Pharmaceutical Industry, Agricultural Firms, Research Institutes, Animal Breeding Industry, etc.
Some of the major employers for Geneticists in India are: AIIMS, Tata Memorial Centre, Indian Society of Cell Biology, Bcs-Insilico Biology, amongst many others.
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Career Opportunities in Genetics
A growing scope of this career offers you a wide variety of opportunities.
- Cytogeneticist: A Cytogeneticist prepares biological specimens such as blood, amniotic fluids, bone marrow and tumours for chromosome analysis.
- Crime Investigation: Geneticists also work in the crime investigation branches of government and non-government organizations analyzing biological samples submitted to them for the presence or absence of certain DNA strains.
- Medical Laboratory Technologist: Also known as Clinical Laboratory Scientists, Medical Technologists perform chemical, biological, haematological, immunological, microscopic and bacteriological tests, as well as develop new test methods, etc.
- Clinical Geneticist: They are physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of genetic diseases. Their job may also include laboratory-based tasks related to such diseases.
- Genetic Counsellor: The counsellors’ main job is to provide support and information on a variety of genetic diseases. Their duties include coordinating treatment for those with birth disorders, as well as counselling the patients who have any hereditary problems.
- Research Geneticist: Jobs are available at government agencies, private laboratories and other research organizations. The research is mainly focused on the inherited characteristics of humans, animals, and plants. Their experiments and analyses add to the existing knowledge pool and the development of new products.
- Plant Breeder/ Geneticist: They use their advanced genetics expertise to improve characteristics of plants and crops such as crop yield, resistance to diseases, appearance, etc. For this, they scientifically assess plant breeding in laboratory conditions.
- Education: Genetics teachers in schools and universities are in high demand. They work at various levels, depending on their qualifications.
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Should you pursue a career in Genetics?
As a part of the field of Genetics, you’ll get diverse opportunities to work on and lead advanced research projects, both in India and overseas. Jobs are available in various industries, such as pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, etc.
At the same time, you should know that since the work of a Geneticist is primarily research-based, you’d have to spend a lot of time indoors and in laboratories. The educational path for the career is also long, as a PhD is generally preferred.
So, if you think you have the patience, scientific aptitude and a love for biology, why not consider going this route? Embark on an exciting journey of unveiling the mysteries hidden within genes.
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