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Career as a Gene Therapist

Job Opportunities for Gene Therapists Similar to genetic engineer, there is career of gene therapist. Such candidates treat human patients with genetic illnesses. They might work in a non-medical environment as a biochemist or biophysicist, exploring living organisms such as plants used as food crops. The work of gene therapist will involve handling harmful organisms and toxins. Genetic therapy attempts to provide remedy of genetic disorders through the application of new genes.

Gene therapy is the procedure of inserting genetic material into existing cells to rectify a genetic problem, health issue, or deformity. This type of work is presently in the experimental stage and most gene therapist’s work on research projects or in academia. This field is quite delicate and of controversial nature, the scientific community recruits only highly-trained people with high educational backgrounds in their fields that culminate in doctoral degrees.

Educational qualification

Educational programs in gene therapy are only available at the doctoral degree level. The difficult curriculum of a doctoral genetic therapy program includes advanced topics in cellular biology and genetics. Scholars choose courses in cellular life cycles, virology, biological imagery, gene development and molecular evolution. Many of these programs host gene therapy research centres that focus on genetic cures for cancer, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis or HIV. The listed below examine degree programs that are directly related to gene therapy, including doctoral programs in genetics, molecular biology and medical science.

Candidates who work directly with patients must accomplish a Medical Doctor (M.D.) degree and become licensed through the state in which they practice. Specific degree programs in gene therapy exist, though other fields of study that incorporate gene therapy education include :

  • Molecular and cellular biology
  • Immunology
  • Biotechnology sciences
  • Genetics
  • Neuroscience

Post-doctoral research can be found in medical laboratories and academic facilities under the guidance of experienced researchers and scientists. Research opportunities, residency programs and fellowships offer practical experience in gene therapy and allow doctors and physicians the chance to specialize in a particular field of medicine.

Candidates who want to work in the area of gene therapy and who hold doctoral degrees can enhance careers in the areas of research or teaching. More precisely, they might become medical scientists or postsecondary teachers. Job prospects for scientists in the genetic therapy field are bright, as the field continues to expand in present situation.

Normally, gene therapy is applied to use healthy genes to treat or avert genetic disorders. Theoretically, it permits consultants to remove mutated genes and either replace them with healthy versions or treat disease by introducing new genes into the body. The technique can also work for plant and animal diseases. Gene therapy replaces a defective gene or adds a new gene in an attempt to cure disease or improve your body's ability to fight disease. Gene therapy holds promise for treating a wide range of diseases, including cancer, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, diabetes, hemophilia and AIDS. Degree programs in gene therapy and genetics are available at the master's and doctoral degree level.

It is highly beneficial field for candidates who have deep interest in research and development in medical arena. With effective training in genetics or genetic research, candidates may conduct research in gene therapy, become a medical scientist, a geneticist or a biology professor. If candidates have interest in working with people, they could administer drugs or gene therapy to patients, which requires earning a medical license. According to the Occupational Information Network, geneticists study inherited disorders, their traits and methods for treating them. As a geneticist, candidates have to conduct labs, interpret the results, and evaluate the data and present findings.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that characteristics of specialists in this arena are as under :

  1. Patience
  2. Effective communication skills
  3. Working independently or as a team and strong research skills

To apply gene therapy on patients, Researchers investigate several ways. These are mentioned as under :

  1. Replacing mutated genes. Some cells become diseased because certain genes work incorrectly or no longer work at all. Replacing the defective genes may help treat certain diseases.

  2. Fixing mutated genes. Mutated genes that cause disease could be turned off so that they no longer promote disease, or healthy genes that help prevent disease could be turned on so that they can inhibit the disease.

  3. Making diseased cells more evident to the immune system. In some cases, your immune system doesn't attack diseased cells because it doesn't recognize them as intruders. Doctors could use gene therapy to train immune system of patients to recognize the cells that are a threat.

It is important to note that this area is still in experimental stage. Investigators are still studying how and when to use gene therapy. Presently, in the United States, gene therapy is available only as part of a clinical trial.