a spare $100 to get a peek into their genetic make-up. In the medical field, genetic engineering is used to design better treatments, and in the near future it may be used to eliminate certain diseases before they even occur. Another key technique involves taking pieces of genetic material fromone organism and splicing it into another—creating what’s called recombinant DNA . This work has already revolution ized agriculture and is poised to do the same inmany other industries. In the coming decades, people with backgrounds in genetics will find their services required in an increasing number of fields. This chapter will look at the three major areas where genetic engineers work—agriculture, medicine, and biotechnology—and also introduce you to additional fields where a genetics background may open doors to exciting career opportunities. Genetics, Genomics, and Biotech If you’re reading a book on careers in genetic engineering, you probably already have a basic sense of what genetics is all about. But just to make sure we are all on the same page, here is a very quick overview of the topic. The human body is made up of around 37 trillion cells, and most of them contain a complete copy of that individual’s genetic material—called deox yribonucleic acid (DNA). DNA is shaped a bit like a ladder, and each “rung” is made by a pairing of chemicals, called DNA bases . These bases come in only four types: adenine (A), which can only pair with thymine (T); and cytosine (C), which can only pair with guanine (G). There are more than 3 billion base pairs in the human genome . Everything that makes us . . . well, us . . . begins with these base pairs. This applies to all other living organisms, as well. Whenever a new cell is generated, the genetic material has to be copied or replicated . Most of the time,


Cool Careers in Science: Genetic Engineers

Made with FlippingBook - Online catalogs