Genomics Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update


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What is Genomics?

The study and analysis of genomes is called Genomics. A genome is the complete set of genetic information in an organism. It provides all of the information the organism requires to function. In living organisms, the genome is stored in long molecules of DNA called chromosomes.

Genomics is making it possible to predict, diagnose, and treat diseases more precisely and personally than ever. Genomics includes the scientific study of complex diseases such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and cancer because these diseases are typically caused more by a combination of genetic and environmental factors than by individual genes.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in Genomics in the following subject areas:

  • CK 405 Genetics – This course aims to produce graduates who have a strong foundation in modern Genetics. There is a particular emphasis on the molecular basis of the subject, but all facets of Genetics are covered in the degree.
  • Fundamentals of Human Molecular Genetics – Learn to identify certain genetic variants that influence our health and how to start investigating the underlying molecular pathology of a whole host of diseases.
  • Human Genetics and Health Issues – Examine DNA, how genes function, genetic diseases, the Human Genome Project and some of the biological, medical and ethical issues surrounding research into genes.

Studying Genomics in college

There are many courses in Genomics that may take place over a few days, weeks or even 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials and taught modules. Assessments will take place on a continuous basis with written examinations and practical assignments combined in order to achieve a qualification. You could also consider work experience or a work shadow in the industry. Relevant work experience is a good way of demonstrating a genuine interest in the field and is regarded favourably by employers.

Practical experience gained through work shadowing and placements in the laboratory or field may increase your chances of finding genetics-related work. It’s also useful to build up knowledge of the range of techniques used in the area.

Work Experience will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a Genomics course you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of genetic and genomic abnormalities and inherited or acquired diseases.

As a clinical scientist working in genomics, you’ll analyse and interpret patient samples in order to identify alterations in genes and to help predict whether other family members or future generations are at risk from the abnormality.

The results of your analyses are used by clinicians to inform diagnosis, to develop treatment programmes and also to work out a prognosis. Many careers relating to genetics are based in the health services, so employers tend to be hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and universities. However, opportunities within food and drink companies, the health and beauty care industry, and research and consultancy companies are also available.

There are opportunities to move into clinical research or to get involved in training and registration assessments. You can also develop your career by getting involved with professional bodies, taking on external professional roles or moving into advisory roles with organisations such as Health and Social Care departments.

Working hours will depend on whether you are self-employed, employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various businesses or companies. You will typically work a 37.5-hour week, although you may be required to work a shift pattern, including weekends and nights.

Related jobs include:

  • Clinical scientist, genomics
  • Clinical scientist, immunology
  • Geneticist
  • Genetic counsellor
  • Biotechnologist
  • Epidemiologist
  • Forensic scientist
  • Academic researcher
  • Clinical research associate
  • Pharmacologist
  • Plant breeder
  • Research scientist
  • Research scientist
  • Medical sales representative
  • Physician associate
  • Scientific laboratory technician
  • Science writer

Further study

After completing a course in Genomics you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skill set. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practise in certain career areas such as medical and molecular genetics, immunology and pharmacology.

FAQ

What are genetics and genomics?

Genetics is a term that refers to the study of genes and their roles in inheritance – in other words, the way that certain traits or conditions are passed down from one generation to another. Genetics involves scientific studies of genes and their effects.

Genomics is a more recent term that describes the study of all of a person’s genes (the genome), including interactions of those genes with each other and with the person’s environment. Genomics includes the scientific study of complex diseases such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and cancer because these diseases are typically caused more by a combination of genetic and environmental factors than by individual genes. Genomics is offering new possibilities for therapies and treatments for some complex diseases, as well as new diagnostic methods.

Why are genetics and genomics important to health?

Genetics and genomics both play roles in health and disease. Genetics helps individuals and families learn about how conditions such as sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis are inherited in families, what screening and testing options are available, and, for some genetic conditions, what treatments are available.

Genomics is helping researchers discover why some people get sick from certain infections, environmental factors, and behaviours, while others do not. For example, there are some people who exercise their whole lives, eat a healthy diet, have regular medical checkups, and die of a heart attack at age 40. There are also people who smoke, never exercise, eat unhealthy foods and live to be 100. Genomics may hold the key to understanding these differences.

Where can I study Genomics?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

  • The estimated frequency of the deletions syndromes of chromosome 18 (18p- & 18q-) is about 1/40,000 births.
  • There are over 200 different types of cells in the human body (for example, muscle cells, liver cells, and nerve cells). Every cell has the same complete set of instructions. But different cells use different instructions; this is what makes them different.
  • Only about 3% of the DNA actually codes for genes; the rest is often called “non-coding DNA” because its function is unknown.
  • A human being can be made from a gene count only twice as great as that of a fly or worm.
  • Most mutations occur in males. One suggested reason is the larger number of cell divisions in the male germline (sperm).


Mariza Halliday

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