Genetics career UK
NHS Careers > Explore by career > Healthcare science > Careers in healthcare science > Careers in life sciences > Genetics
Genes are instructions which tell the body how to make all the proteins it needs to survive and grow. Genetics is the identification of each of these proteins.
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms. Nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA.
Healthcare science staff working in genetics examine samples of patients' DNA to identify genetic abnormalities that may be responsible for inherited diseases or conditions, such as cystic fybrosis or cancer. You would not only identify abnormal genes but could also predict the likelihood of them being passed on to the next generation.
You would use chemical examination of cellular DNA to define genetic abnormalities and the majority of your work would revolve around three main categories:
- Prenatal diagnosis - examining cells for possible abnormalities in the foetus, usually in families where single gene disorders have been identified by DNA analysis.
- Carrier testing and risk assessment for identifying presymptomatic individuals at risk from single gene disorders.
- Confirmation of diagnosis. Healthcare staff working in geneticsrarely have patient contact themselves, but you would be very aware of the impact that your research and examinations have on patients.
Healthcare science staff often work at the forefront of research and innovation, so that patients are continually receiving the very best healthcare. For example, in genetics, healthcare science staff are involved in the Human Genome Project - a project to gain a better understanding of how certain traits and characteristics are passed on from parents to children.
You would work as part of a multidisciplinary team that includes doctors specialising in genetics, healthcare science staff specialising in bioinformatics genomics, specialist nurses and genetic counsellors so to work in genetics you will need effective communication and team working skills.
You will also need to be confident with technology and systems/processes and display meticulous accuracy in your work.
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