Medical Definition of Genetics

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

Genetics: The scientific study of heredity. Genetics pertains to humans and all other organisms. So, for example, there is human genetics, mouse genetics, fruit fly genetics, etc.

Human genetics today comprises a number of overlapping fields, including:

  • Classical or formal genetics -- the study of the transmission of single genes within families and the analysis of more complex types of inheritance.
  • Clinical genetics -- the diagnosis, prognosis and, in some cases, the treatment of genetic diseases.
  • Genetic counseling -- an important area within clinical genetics involving the diagnosis, risk assessment, and interpersonal communication.
  • (Cancer genetics -- the study of genetic factors in inherited and sporadic cancer.
  • Cytogenetics -- the study of chromosomes in health and disease.
  • Biochemical genetics -- the biochemistry of nucleic acids and proteins including enzymes.
  • Pharmacogenetics -- how genes govern the absorption, metabolism and disposal of drugs and untoward reactions to them.
  • Molecular genetics -- the molecular study of genetics including particularly DNA and RNA.
  • Immunogenetics -- the genetics of the immune system including blood groups, HLA, and the immunoglobulins.
  • Behavioral genetics -- the study of genetic factors in behavior in health and disease including mental retardation and mental illness.
  • Population genetics -- the study of genes within populations including gene frequencies, the gene pool, and evolution.
  • Reproductive genetics -- the genetics of reproduction including genes and chromosomes in germ cells and the early embryo.
  • Developmental genetics -- the genetics of normal and abnormal development including congenital malformations (birth defects). (Cancer genetics- The study of the genetic factors in inherited and sporadic cancer)
  • Ecogenetics -- the interaction of genetics with the environment.
  • Forensic genetics -- the application of genetic knowledge, including DNA, to legal matters.



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