According to Edwin Grant Conklin, “what molecules and atoms and electrons are to physicists and chemists, chromosome and genes are to biologists”.
At the end of school days, as the students are at the verge of initiating their higher education, they develop a fairly vivid idea about their inclination towards a particular subject of interest. This decision is the most crucial stepping stone in the budding path of their career. If the science of life fascinates a student, then the curriculum of biology provides a basic introduction to different fields of biological science like botany, zoology, physiology, microbiology, genetics, etc. Some of these fields are classical while the others are contemporary with continuous addition of recent technologies and novel findings.
When a young scientific mind intends to unravel the mystery underlying the behaviour and characteristic features of the living world, the interrogation should be triggered at the level of DNA. DNA is an astonishing molecule that stores every possible information of all life forms: How they look like? Do they resemble their parents? How they function? Whether a person is more inclined to have a disease or whether a person can have some power to avoid a disease? How to increase yield of a crop? And many other questions find their answer in this central molecule of biology. In short, DNA is the language that writes the story of genes according to which the life forms enact.
What is Genetics all about?
Genetics, as a key field of biological science, is the blend of classical concepts of hereditary passage of genetic information from parent to offspring or of a population as a whole together with recent advancements of applied science as in genetic engineering, recombinant DNA technology, forensics and pharmacogenomics. The advancement in this field is now prompting the use of genetic information in designing disease treatment in an individualistic manner – the very essence of personalized medicine or “precision medicine” that may provide life-saving cues for ailments that are hard to treat. Using the concept of genomics and transcriptomics we can also increase sustainability of agriculture, improve crop production (genetically modified crops) to solve the global problem of food scarcity. As a major component of forensic science it is indispensable for solving cases of criminology, dubious parenthood and other issues of biological relevance under legal surveillance. Even the most complex form of genetic information is opening up through high throughput advancements like human genome project.
Components of the subject worth mentioning:
Classical genetics: Classical Genetics is the oldest discipline of genetics based on Mendelian inheritance that provided many insights into inherited traits and elucidated many inherited human disorders that were known to follow Mendel’s law of inheritance and were useful to explain the reappearance of disease within families.
Population genetics: Population genetics deals with genetic differences within and among populations, and the dynamics of how populations evolve as a result of the propagation of genetic mutations occurring within the germlines of individuals together with contribution of evolutionary attributes.
Conservation Genetics: Conservation genetics is an interdisciplinary extension of population genetics for conservation and restoration of biodiversity through comprehension of the dynamics of genes in populations.
Quantitative Genetics: Quantitative genetics deals with the genetics of traits that are continually fluctuating on the basis of alterations in the frequency distribution of traits that are difficult to assign in discrete phenotypic classes.
Ecological Genetics: It deals with features associated with fitness that are involved in interactions between/ within species, and between an organism and its environment.
Medical genetics: In the field of medicine it deals with application of genetics for diagnosis and management of genetic diseases apart from investigating the causes and inheritance of the disorders.
Immunogenetics: It refers to the scientific discipline that studies the molecular and genetic basis of the immune response with emphasis on immunological pathways as well as genetic variations that result in immune defects. It is a subfield of medical genetics.
Molecular genetics: Molecular genetics is concerned with the structure and function of genes at the molecular level and utilizes molecular biology tools and technique of genetic engineering to manipulate organism’s genome that gets translated through protein function to health and disease.
Human genetics: It involves the study of the human genome and the gene transmission from one generation to the next. It is an interdisciplinary field contributed by classical genetics, cytogenetics, molecular genetics, biochemical genetics, genomics, population genetics, developmental genetics, clinical genetics, and genetic counselling.
Combining the concepts derived from the above mentioned subfields of genetics, every now and then, new areas of scientific knowledge and research are coming up to find the answers of countless questions that are unaddressed till date in living world and its complexity. The new fields with immense potential for research activity that are worth mentioning are Genomics, Epigenomics, Metagenomics, Phramacogenomics, and many others.
Genetic Counsellors –Due to increase in gene-based therapies and wellness treatments, there is a rise in demand for Genetic counsellors for Pedigree analysis, identification of risk factors, etc.
- Forensic Science Research Associates/ Scientist – Law enforcement firms recruit geneticists to identify and analyze the evidences from DNA samples, tissue samples, etc. from potential crime scenes.
Genetic Scientist in Agriculture & Food – For food and agriculture based industries, new varieties of genetically modified crops are being generated by manipulating plant genes. The resultant varieties are generated for increased yield, resistance to pests and plant pathogens or for increasing tolerance of the plants for adverse environmental conditions. It is not limited to plants, the scientist work on animal breeds also to get a better variety.
Scientific Researcher – With a doctoral degree a student of genetics can work on a scientific project involving the study of various genes and their regulations to pave the way towards new discoveries like CRISPR gene editing. The Human Genome Project or the 1000 genome project is a hallmark achieved by genetic scientist.
Academic researcher: As an academic researcher one can apply his/her expertise and skills developed through study and research: as a teacher as well as a researcher. And contribute to journals and books with research articles and new findings.
- Medical Scientist –The medical scientist can use sequence information to understand genetic disorders especially those with hereditary conditions and find a solution for them. They can address not only diseases of population in general but also at level of individuals based on response of his genome towards medication – the very essence of precision medicine or personalized medicine.
Scientific Content Writer –Scientific writing is a very lucrative career at present and in the coming years as it offers you to learn in the field of one’s mother subject as well as earn.
Genetics is the science of future. As all aspects of life are being questioned for improvisation or for addressing errors or deficiencies, the molecules regulating life are now and will always be in limelight and those molecules are indeed the DNA, RNA and proteins. Therefore innumerable DNA and RNA analysis are awaiting technical knowledge of upcoming geneticists. So the job and research prospect of genetics students are broadening day by day for the young people who aspires to do something new, something different. To open up the prospects of such promising career for our future students, Department of Microbiology from School of Life Science and Biotechnology, Adamas University is opening a new three year undergraduate course BSc with Honours in Genetics.
Curriculum: Addressing all the components in the field of genetics the courses offered include the following:
- Fundamental Courses: Principles of Transmission genetics, Population and Evolutionary Genetics, Biochemistry, etc.
- Advanced Courses: Immunology, Molecular Biology, Microbial genetics, Genomics & Proteomics, Nanotechnology, etc.
- Applied Courses: Bioanalytical tools, Genetic modification in agriculture, food and medicine, Tools for gene expression analysis, Genetic disorder and gene therapy, etc.
- Skill Enhancement Courses: Molecular diagnostics & genetic counselling, Basics of Forensic Science, Bioinformatics, Intellectual Property Right (IPR) etc.
With all technologically advanced laboratory facilities available and highly qualified faculty members who excel in their respective fields of expertise, our department presents a perfect ambience for the students to undertake BSc Honours in Genetics as a choice to begin their career.