With the completion of the Human Genome Project, many doors of understanding the human body and its functions once locked have been thrown wide open, exposing a smorgasbord of knowledge just waiting to be discovered. There are many different fields dedicated to unlocking this knowledge, one of which is the cytogenetic technologist.
The cytogenetic technologist, as the title implies, uses powerful lab equipment in order to examine the chromosomal makeup of cells. The primary technique they use is called karotyping, which reveals the chromosomes of a cell sample and allows the cytogenetic technologist to examine them for genetic defects that may be the cause of diseases or disorders. They will collect the necessary data and run the necessary tests, after which they prepare a report of the data. These reports are meant either for doctors to use for treatment or for other scientists, who will use the data for their own contributions. The cytogenetic technologist must not only know how to operate and maintain the delicate equipment vital to their job. This person also needs to know how to cultivate and prepare biological specimens for examination without damaging the specimen or causing contamination. A cytogenetic technologist may supervise other laboratory staff.
Cytogenetic technologists are usually employed in medical facilities like hospitals and clinics or in private laboratories. A keen eye for detail and accuracy are vital skills for a prospective applicant. They must understand and adhere to standard laboratory and medical safety protocols.
At minimum, applicants should have a bachelor's degree in a relevant scientific discipline, such as cytogenic technology, biology, or biotech. Further accreditation from the American Society of Clinical Pathologists is usually a prerequisite for employment.
Cytogenetic Technologist Tasks
Perform cytogenetic testing on samples.
Prepare reports and documentation.
Perform lab checks, cleaning, inventory and other lab maintenance.
Analyze test results and check for test accuracy.