Advances in genetics can yield benefits in several areas. It can serve
as the basis for understanding how diseases are inherited and for counseling
families at risk of producing children with genetic defects.
In agriculture, it can help breed new, disease-resistant crops and livestock.
The pharmaceutical industry can also use a greater understanding of our genetic
make-up to develop better or even personalized drugs.
A geneticist's work touches all the above areas and more. Some of the questions
these experts may try to find answers to in their research might be:
- What aspects of behavior are inherited?
- What controls the development of a flower?
- What causes genetic diseases?
- How is a murderer traced through blood samples?
Geneticists can work in several different environments. Some do basic research
and teaching in a university setting. Others work in labs.
There are also geneticists who specialize in counseling patients, those
at risk of hereditary diseases or those who want to make use of genetic technologies
in some aspect of their lives.
You could also be a clinical geneticist. These are professionals with a
medical background who use their genetic expertise in the hospital setting,
Geneticists can work long and hard hours. "I usually arrive at work at
7:30 in the morning and leave at 6 p.m.," says geneticist Wenda Greer. "Often,
I take work home as well and do it in the evenings and on weekends."
This is not a physical job. Those who are confined to a wheelchair should
still be able to pursue this career. What you need above all is a keen mind
and a love for science.