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Events introduce students to human genetics careers

As the field of human genetics rapidly grows and new, personalized genomic medicine becomes a reality, trained personnel are increasingly in demand. Personalized genomic medicine (PGM) is a way to improve an individual’s health using their genetic information in combination with their family and medical histories and their lifestyle. The implementation and delivery of personalized genomic medicine requires a team of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and the Iowa Institute of Human Genetics (IIHG) is actively engaging the next generation of possible genetics professionals through a Careers in Genetics event October 11.

During the events, participants are introduced to the field of genetics and are able to explore a variety of career possibilities. Individuals have the opportunity to meet and ask questions of institute members including a core facility director, bioinformaticians, a genetic counselor, a research scientist, a laboratory manager, and both medical and molecular geneticists.

Current institute team members discuss paths that led them to the field of personalized genomic medicine including their education, previous employment and the skillsets required for each position. In addition, guests receive tours of the institute’s genomics facility, data center and a research laboratory.

The institute hosted its first career exploration event in April and popularity has rapidly increased. The initial target audience was undergraduate students in Iowa, but participants have grown to include a wide spectrum of individuals including high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as educators from across the state.

“These events have been a lot of fun and a great opportunity for members of the IIHG to interact with the community,” said Colleen Campbell, PhD, assistant director of the IIHG. “We have received a lot of positive feedback from students and local educators regarding these events.”

“It was great to see how all of the different professionals work together to come up with results,” responded a University of Iowa sophomore participant.

“I had no idea of all the different jobs that go into genetic research,” added another participant.

Future directions

The institute continues to expand the lineup of genetic professionals involved with the program and has plans to include a representative from a local biotechnology company based on previous participant feedback.

An increasing emphasis will also be placed on introducing participants to the developing field of bioinformatics, where there is an acute need for researchers and employees. A separate event, Careers in Informatics, is scheduled to take place this winter to more closely focus on the topic and career possibilities.

About the institute

The Iowa Institute of Human Genetics was approved by the Iowa Board of Regents in August 2012 to provide an interface for, and support of, university- and state-wide activities related to human genetics. The institute seeks to promote education, clinical care, and research, focused on the medical and scientific significance of variation in the human genome.

For further information or to register for a future event, visit medicine.uiowa.edu/humangenetics

Story Source: Iowa Institute for Human Genetics, iihg@uiowa.edu

Media Contact: Colleen Campbell, colleen-campbell@uiowa.edu