Master of Science in Applied Genetics (MsC)
The MSc. Program in Applied Genetics will train students to an international standard, incorporating current biomolecular technology. Quite simply, use of biotechnology, in particular molecular genetics applications, is now ubiquitous in commerce and research. Examples of how this technology is currently being deployed include:
- Pathogen detection: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based procedures are routinely used in aquatic and terrestrial systems to detect human, plant, and animal pathogens. Industry has recognized the power of this technology, and now sells kits for PCR detection of human pathogens from food and environmental samples—Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter, and pathogenic E. coli, among others (e.g., http://www.bio-rad.com/en-us/category/real-time-pcr-kits).
- Population monitoring: Molecular methods are routinely used to monitor wildlife populations for conservation, in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. Using noninvasive genetic sampling techniques, for example, wildlife biologists can collect data on terrestrial wildlife populations that specifies identity of individuals, sex, diet, and demographic trends, without the need to lay hands on the animal in question—particularly important for rare or elusive species. In aquatic systems, genetic data has been used to monitor salmon harvests, including identifying the source populations of ocean-harvested fish.
- Forensics: Molecular methods also have utility in monitoring the food supply, in the realm of consumer protection. Quite aside from pathogen detection, provenance and authenticity of a food item can be ascertained. In one instance, researchers used DNA-based evidence to demonstrate that roe being sold as beluga caviar from Caspian sturgeon was either 1) not beluga caviar or 2) was genuine, but illegally harvested from protected species (Desalle and Birstein, 1996).
Our goal here is not to provide an exhaustive list of genetics applications; rather, these examples demonstrate how truly useful this technology is, and how these applications are proliferating. We intend that MSc students understand the utility of genetics-based technology. Whether or not they go on to use these skills in their subsequent careers, these students will be informed consumers of this technology--they will be better able to deploy the technology appropriately themselves, and evaluate information that has been generated by others using biotechnology. Through a combination of lectures, laboratory- and field-based training, students will learn not just concepts, but actual practice and procedures of applied genetics. The materials taught in this program will prepare students for careers in agricultural, industrial, or biomedical genetics applications, as well as molecular ecology and evolution.
Program duration: 4 semesters (120 ECTS)
Academic degree: Master in Public Health-MPH
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