Geneticist What does a Geneticist do?

Genetics is a branch of biology that studies the inheritance of physical and behavioral characteristics of living things, and how these traits are passed down through generations.Geneticists study genes and the science of heredity (inherited traits passed down through generations). They study living organisms, from human beings and animals to crops and bacteria. Research is a major part of a geneticist’s job. They conduct experiments to determine the origins and governing laws of particular inherited traits, such as medical conditions, and seek out determinants (such as disease resistance) responsible for these traits.

Depending on where they work, geneticists might then find ways to modify traits and generate new traits through the use of chemicals, radiation and other means. In manufacturing they will develop new pharmaceutical or agricultural products and in a medical setting they will advise on the diagnosis of inherited conditions and treat patients with genetic diseases.

Typical responsibilities include

  • conducting lab research and experiments
  • extracting DNA or performing diagnostic tests
  • interpreting, reviewing or approving genetic lab results
  • documenting their processes and results
  • analysing genetic data to draw conclusions and publish research
  • communicating results of findings, for instance at conferences or in scientific journals
  • supervising or directing the work of other geneticists, biologists, technicians or biometricians working on genetics research projects
  • when more senior, spearheading new research With experience, one of the areas you could go into is genetic counseling, which involves offering information, support and advice on genetic conditions to your patients.

Typical employers of geneticists

  • Hospitals
  • Research institutions
  • Universities
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Agricultural and horticultural companies
  • Biotechnology and genetic engineering companies

Qualifications and training required

To become a geneticist, you will need to have a degree. Relevant life science degrees include biomedical science, biology, microbiology, genetics and biochemistry. It’s also common for you to need a postgraduate qualification, such as a master’s degree. A PhD can also be useful and may even be necessary, especially if you want to lead your own research projects or become a university lecturer.

Key skills for geneticists

  • Analytical skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • The ability to understand complex concepts
  • Teamwork and communication skills
  • Innovation
  • IT skills