Molecular Genetics and Genomics
Molecular geneticists seek to understand how genes are inherited, modified, expressed and regulated. The field of molecular genetics and genomics has been astonishingly successful in deciphering the genetic code and providing us with 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 cells replicate their genes with such remarkable speed and fidelity? 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 do genes become altered to provide the raw material for evolution? The possibility of finding answers to such fundamental questions makes molecular genetics and genomics an exciting field of biology.
Laboratories in the Molecular Genetics and Genomics Program are pursuing answers to these and other important questions using a variety of model organisms including phage and viruses, bacteria, yeast and fungi, nematodes, fruit flies, plants and mice. Use of such organisms provides opportunities to design and carry out experiments that reveal fundamental biological processes in great detail. In addition, they offer the opportunity to apply molecular genetics and genomics to the study of human biology and disease. Laboratories in the Molecular Genetics and Genomics Program at Washington University have been at the forefront of human molecular genetics and the Human Genome Project. Students interested in studying fundamental genetic mechanisms, as well as those with a desire to apply this knowledge to human biology, will find many laboratories within the Program in which to pursue their doctoral research.