Geneticists seek to understand how genes are inherited, modified, and expressed. Geneticists have been remarkably successful in deciphering the genetic code and in providing a clear picture of the nature of the gene, but much remains to be learned about fundamental genetic mechanisms. How is it that only the appropriate genes are turned on in a particular cell type? How do genes direct cells to have different fates, ultimately resulting in the development organism with many different cell types? How does the cell choreograph the events of cell division so that only one copy of each gene is passed on to the next generation? By what processes are genes altered to provide the raw material for evolution? How do multiple genes contribute to complex phenotypes, such as human disease? The possibility of finding answers to such fundamental questions makes genetics one of the most exciting fields of biology.
We are interested in studying fundamental genetic mechanisms, as well as applying this knowledge to human biology. Laboratories in the Genetics Department are pursuing answers to these and other important questions using a variety of model organisms including, yeast (S. cerevisiae), algae (Chlamydomonas), the nematode (C. elegans), the fruit fly (D. melanogaster), and the zebra fish (D. rerio). Use of such organisms provides opportunities to design and carry out experiments that reveal fundamental biological processes in great detail. In addition, laboratories in the Genetics Department are at the forefront of Human Molecular Genetics. Computational biologists in the Department are leaders in developing methods for analysis of genetic data.
This is a terrific time to be a geneticist. We are leading a scientific revolution that is transforming biological and medical science. Not only is it dramatically changing the practice of biological science and greatly increasing its harvest of knowledge, but it is leading to significant practical applications that will directly and profoundly affect the lives of all people. This revolution emanates from the field of Genetics, and we are excited to be at its center.