Genetics is defined as "the science of inheritance" and concerns the ways in which characteristics are passed from parents to their offspring. This area of study can be applied to all lifeforms, and is important for understanding some medical disorders, as well as in other disciplines such as zoology, botany and ecology.
Human Genetics and Medical Genetics are large areas of study and research. These subjects provide scientists with increasing knowledge of the circumstances in which particular conditions are most likely to occur. This enables tests to be made available to those who might be affected by known genetic conditions, and to those people whose children might be affected - in which case screening during pregnancy might be available.
Genetics is one of the most controversial areas of modern science.
Human and Medical Genetics are controversial areas because some people object to the use of human embryos for research in these fields and some people object to the testing of human fetuses for genetic conditions because this is usually offered to women together with the possibility of termination of the pregnancy if, based on the results of the test, that is her preference. Other controversial aspects of genetics include the debate about the possible health implications of consuming genetically modified foods, and the effects of genetic modification on both the immediate farm environment and also the wider natural world.
As science continues to advance it is likely that more and more ethical issues will emerge and prompt debate.
- A medical specialist in the field of genetics is called a geneticist.
Links to other relevant areas on this website include:
- Glossary section: General Medical Terms.