What is a Genomics Technician?
A genome is a complete set of DNA within a single cell of an organism. Genomics is a branch of molecular biology concerned with the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of genomes.
A genomics technician is someone who assists researchers and project managers in a support capacity, experimenting with genes, gene therapy, and research that affects nutrition and health. They often use state of the art technology when executing experiments with humans, animals, and plants.
What does a Genomics Technician do?
A genomics technician will use a range of technologies to determine and compare DNA and RNA sequences. They perform a variety of tasks, including isolating RNA and DNA from samples, constructing libraries, performing quality control, carrying out titrations, and working with a variety of microarray, PCR, and DNA sequencing technologies. Genomics technicians may also be expected to develop new protocols under the supervision of a supervisor.
Genomics technicians need to have extensive analytical and computer skills, and must be organized and able to communicate their findings clearly. They spend time participating in genomic data studies; gathering materials, information and samples; and use and maintain test tubes, microscopes, animal cages and scales. They also assist scientists in microscopic organism studies and other hands on laboratory work.
Note the distinctions between genetics and genomics:
Genetics is the study of heredity, or how the characteristics of living organisms are transmitted from one generation to the next via DNA.
Genomics is the study of the entirety of an organism’s genes – called the genome. Using computing and math techniques known as bioinformatics, genomics researchers analyze enormous amounts of DNA-sequence data to find variations that affect health, disease or drug response.
Genomics is a much newer field than genetics and became possible only in the last couple of decades due to technical advances in DNA sequencing and computational biology.
What is the workplace of a Genomics Technician like?
Genomics technicians work in a laboratory setting almost exclusively. They typically work a standard 40-hour week, but night shifts and weekend work may be needed at times. They must be able to work well as part of a team, as well as work independently with limited supervision. They often work with a variety of professionals, from PhD scientists to nurses, medical doctors, and administrators.
Genomics technicians may come in contact with some toxic chemicals that require special handing and precautions, so adherence to strict safety protocols are expected at all times.