Genetics is arguably the most important field in biological sciences impacting all aspects of biology, from health and disease, breeding plants and animals for food and fiber, evolution, and an understanding of basic molecular, developmental and cellular processes. Genetics has always been concerned with the problem of how the hereditary information in DNA controls what an organism looks like and how it functions. Classically, this involved the use of mutants which are the genetic variants to upset the biological function of the cells or organisms and, from the effect of these mutations to make deductions about the way cells and organisms function. At the molecular end of the subject, the availability of sequence information and genomic analysis combined with sophisticated techniques for gene replacement, and analysis of gene expression patterns (microarray technology), gives us much better tools for looking at the way genes work to make us the way we are. At the other extreme of the subject, knowledge of genetics is fundamental for an understanding of how organisms, populations and species evolve. One of the most interesting developments in the subject in the last few years is the way in which these two extremes have begun to approach each other through the application of the new molecular systematics to the issues related to development, evolution, and speciation.
Geneticists believe that the procedures and techniques of genetics are applicable throughout the spectrum of the biological activity, and are as relevant to molecular biology as to the population studies. Some of the basic tools of modern biology (analysis of genomic sequences and bioinformatics) are the most intelligently used in the knowledge of the genetic principles which underpin the design and application of the software. At the other end of the spectrum, knowledge of genetics is important to have an understanding of the evolution of populations and species.
Modern genetics has today evolved beyond its traditional boundaries in order to become a part of biology and medicine. The department reflects this pervasiveness with research interests surrounding several high-impact themes, including functional genomics and systems biology, developmental genetics, epigenetic inheritance, evolution and population genetics, microbial genetics, and cell biology.
As the details of the human genome unfold, a variety of opportunities for people with degrees and training in human genetics continues to expand. There is a good scope in basic and clinical research, in medical professions, and also in the interdisciplinary fields, such as patent law. The genetic workforce is not sufficient even now, and demand continues to increase. For example, as genetic testing gains more and more important as a part of many routine medical evaluations, more laboratory geneticists will be needed to perform the tests, and clinicians and counselors will be needed to interpret and explain the results to individuals and families. At the intersection of genetics and computer science, bio-informaticists are in high demand to deal with the complex data. As genetics is known to be a basic part of all biological sciences, the demand for good teachers with expertise in genetics will also increase. These are just a few examples to reflect the growing demand for professions trained in genetics.
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