The Genome Landscape

Digital illustration of a dna

Gauri Chhabra
One of the quickest growing fields in bio- medical science is that of Genome Sequencing. It deals with the study of biological changes in living organisms. It is the branch of biotechnology which deals with the study of cells, structural and functional unit of living organisms.
Nearly every cell in the human body-from the ones in the fingernails to the ones deep inside the brain-contains a complete set of DNA, the operating instructions that influence everything from a person’s hair color to susceptibility to disease. For years, doctors have been able to test specific genes to detect the presence of mutations associated with disorders such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease. But only recently have scientists been able to map out a person’s entire genetic code, or genome, by sequencing all 20,000 or so genes in one fell swoop. There has been a huge movement in affordable rapid genome sequencing recently and this will produce massive numbers of new genetic data on individuals, as well as populations. The challenge is now on for a new generation of scientists who are able to combine genetics and bioinformatics in an effort to understand how various genomic changes can cause life-threatening diseases such as cancer. This will enable the development of new treatments, through combining drug and gene therapy, along with prevention strategies.
What is Genome Sequencing?
Genomics involves measuring everything about a genome and the changes between genomes. The genome consists of all the nucleic acid inside of a cell. Commonly used techniques in genomics are DNA sequencing, microarrays, and PCR. Genomics is becoming increasingly used in medicine to help diagnose disease since an individual’s DNA sequence can provide insights into the potential for developing specific diseases.
Genomics is one of many “-omics” disciplines that is becoming more prominent in biotechnology and research as a whole. Novel discoveries in this field often track closely with innovations in the technologies available to conduct analysis and perform sequencing or assays. This is the technique that allows researchers to read and decipher the genetic information found in the DNA of anything from bacteria to plants to animals is called Genome Sequencing. The very basic unit of the human genome is a single DNA nucleotide. This nucleotide is extremely small and is made up of minuscule atoms, which creates a challenge for even an advanced microscope to be used for detection. Researchers still, however, need to be able to determine the sequence of bases in DNA that make up the human genome. Genome sequencing involves the determination of the order of DNA bases. You may be wondering what makes these bases so important. In a strand of DNA, there are some simple units known as nucleotides. These nucleotides have a ‘backbone’ that consists of sugars and a phosphate group.
Getting in
If you are interested for admission in bachelor courses, you have to complete higher secondary examination with Physics, Chemistry & Biology. The duration of this course is three years. Some colleges also conduct an aptitude test for admission in Genetics course.
To get admission in master courses, you must have done a bachelor’s degree in the relevant field from any recognized college or university. Some institutions also give admission in genetic courses on the basis of the merit list of the qualifying examination.
Undergraduate Courses
*Bachelor of Science in Genetics
*Bachelor of Science Honors in Genetics
*Bachelor of Science in Genetics, Microbiology & Chemistry
Postgraduate Courses
*Master of Science in Genetics
*Master of Science in Applied Genetics
*Master of Science in Biomedical Genetics
*Master of Science in Human Genetics
*Master of Science in Molecular Biology and Human Genetics
*Master of Science in Microbial Genetics and Bioinformatics
Doctoral Courses:
*Doctor of Philosophy in Genetics
*Doctor of Philosophy in Human Genetics
Institute Scape:
* Dyal Singh (P.G.) College, Karnal, Haryana, offering Bachelor of Science in Genetics
*NIMS Institute of Basic and Advanced Sciences, Jaipur, offering Bachelor of Science Honors in Genetics
*Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, Kolkata, offering Bachelor of Science Honors in Genetics
*Indian Academy Degree College, Bangalore, offering B.Sc. in Genetics, Biochemistry and Biotechnology
* Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, offering Master of Science in Human Genetics
*Acharya Bangalore B-School, Bangalore, offering Master of Science in Applied Genetics
*Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, offering Master of Science in Genetics
*Jiwaji University, Gwalior, offering Master of Science in Molecular Biology and Human Genetics
*Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, offering Master of Science in Genomics
*University of Delhi, Delhi, offering Ph.D (Genetics)
*Indian Statistical Institute, Coimbatore, offering Ph.D (Human Genetics)
*National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Karnataka, offering Ph.D (Human Genetics)
Career Scape
Genetic Counselors
Genetic counselors collect and analyze data about patients’ medical and genetic histories. You will also provide information and help families and individuals about the occurrence, risk and minimization of inherited diseases. You can also have job duties in areas such as administration, research, teaching and lab work. Institutions such as hospitals, universities, laboratories, research facilities and government agencies can employ genetic counselors.
Laboratory Geneticists
Laboratory geneticists are specialists in genetics with relation to laboratory medicine and DNA testing. You will research genetic material to assist and work for agricultural, pharmaceutical, clinical medicine and law enforcement organizations. Many laboratory geneticists have 4-6 years of postsecondary education, while lab directors may hold either a Ph.D. or an M.D. degree
Clinical Geneticists
Clinical geneticists are generally licensed physicians, and may also be involved in the field of medical genetics. You can be specialized in areas such as oncology, pediatrics or obstetrics and gynecology, and work in hospitals, medical centers or other research centers. In addition, clinical geneticists may manage a team of genetic counselors and work together to help identify and minimize the risk factors for certain hereditary diseases.
Genetic Counselors
Genetic counselors play a key role in helping patients and their families get the care that’s right for them. Genetic counselors work with doctors and other members of the health care team to help patients understand what their family history means to them, decide what genetic tests to have, and know how to use the test results to make the best treatment choices. This is especially helpful today as medicine becomes more personalized, and treatment plans increasingly are tailored to a patient’s individual needs.
Referral to a genetic counselor often raises many questions for patients and their family members.
Job Duties
*Establishing genotypes, using diagnostic procedures to detect genetic diseases;
*Utilizing laboratory techniques, including PCR; mutation detection techniques; denaturing HPLC; southern blotting; DNA sequencing and fragment analysis; laser detection of fluorescent dyes.
*Compiling reports for clinicians who requested tests and then advising them on suitable investigation strategies.
*Interpreting results of routine tests carried out by genetic technologists, (they conduct the vast majority of DNA extraction work)
*Developing and devising new investigation strategies
*Conducting both research and development and designing new molecular genetics techniques for genetic disease
*Communicating clearly and concisely with colleagues and other healthcare professionals.
Road Ahead
Entering the field of Genetics and Health research may be daunting for young scientists, but opportunities are expanding and will continue to expand. Genetics has become quite popular, and there are many areas in biology and medicine such as translational works that requires genetics. Therefore, this is one field which offers immense opportunities.