Ex­pert Q&A

Study­ing ge­netic coun­selling in South In­dia.

Friday - - Contents -

I’d like to pur­sue a ca­reer in ge­netic coun­selling. What kind of cour­ses should I take and which col­leges in South In­dia are the best op­tions for this field? SERA JA­COB, VIA EMAIL Ge­netic coun­selling, by def­i­ni­tion, is the process by which ad­vice is of­fered to in­di­vid­u­als or prospec­tive par­ents on the risk of in­her­ited dis­or­ders, the prob­a­bil­ity of de­vel­op­ing or trans­mit­ting them and the op­tions avail­able for preven­tion or man­age­ment of the dis­or­der.

One of the aca­demic routes you could fol­low would be to do a bach­e­lor’s pro­gramme in ei­ther ge­net­ics or biology, fol­lowed by a post­grad­u­ate course in ge­net­ics with fur­ther spe­cial­i­sa­tion in ge­netic coun­selling.

In In­dia, ge­netic coun­selling is just emerg­ing as a study op­tion. The Ox­ford Col­lege, Ban­ga­lore, has a three-year BSc pro­gramme in ge­net­ics that is com­bined with chem­istry and biotech­nol­ogy. The col­lege also of­fers a post­grad­u­ate course in ap­plied ge­net­ics. Os­ma­nia Univer­sity, St Johns Med­i­cal Col­lege, and Vel­lore In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy are other op­tions in South In­dia for ge­net­ics.

Kami­neni Ed­u­ca­tion So­ci­ety in Hy­der­abad has a one-year PG cer­tifi­cate course in med­i­cal and ge­netic coun­selling. The course claims to be the first of its kind in In­dia. To be able to ap­ply you are re­quired to com­plete an MSc in ei­ther health or life sciences.

Ge­netic coun­sel­lors work in a va­ri­ety of fields in­clud­ing pre­na­tal, on­col­ogy, neu­rol­ogy, pae­di­atrics, re­search lab­o­ra­tory and di­ag­nos­tic cen­tres. The scope for this ca­reer can also ex­tend to teach­ing and re­search within the med­i­cal ge­net­ics, biotech­nol­ogy and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sec­tors. Read jour­nals to learn more about ge­net­ics and its so­cial, med­i­cal and eth­i­cal as­pects. Con­sider vol­un­teer­ing at clin­ics as com­mu­nity ex­pe­ri­ence is de­sir­able. While pur­su­ing the course, try to shadow ge­netic coun­sel­lors from dif­fer­ent spe­cial­i­ties.

San­jeev Verma an­swers ques­tions on in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion ex­clu­sively for read­ers of Fri­day.

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