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What is Genomics?

written by: Rishi Prakash•edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•updated: 6/27/2011

Genomics may sound familiar, as if it were a novel or a movie. What is it exactly? Genomics is the study of genes, what constitutes them, its structures, how it is related to DNA, and whether or not it can be manipulated, thereby creating a new gene or modifying it to behave in a particular manner.

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    Yes, you are right it does sound familiarly like the name of a novel and indeed a movie too. However, in this instance, it refers to a medical variant, which is that it refers to your genes.

    Genomics by definition is the study of genes, what constitutes them, its structure, how it is related to DNA, and whether or not it can be manipulated, thereby creating a new gene or modifying it to behave in a particular manner.

    In other words, genes are a combination of chromosomes in your DNA profile which makes you what you are. You have heard about genetic contribution to your height, weight, or even obesity, or lack of height etc. These are nothing part of the genetic code that you have inherited. The genetic code is but a part of the larger DNA, of which you have read enough, but may not have understood. The genes carry the whole hereditary information of a particular gene. Cracking the Genetic Code therefore holds enormous potential for the living race in the world. But then there are limitations in that there are so many varied creatures that to crack each one of them will be well nigh impossible. Thus scientists have been concentrating on specific areas.

    So far the study of genomics has revealed the structure of influenza which afflicts nearly all parts of the world, and quite recently, some strides have been made in the genomic opening of the Bird Flue that spread like wildfire in the last two to three years. The study of this mutant of the virus helped find some solutions to it, but they have yet to fulfill the rather rigorous tests that scientists would like to have before they hand it out in the form of a drug or a vaccine.

    Genomics of various bacteria, viruses, plants, and fishes are continuously on, and efforts are being made to find out their genetic sequences, and what makes them what they are. These research efforts hold out a lot of promise for human kind.

    To illustrate, the study conducted over many decades by ornithologists on the humming bird, which could stay stationary in the air, and back off, led to the development of the US Military or Air Forces Humming Bird helicopter, though it is known differently. That helicopter was engineered based on the study of the humming bird, and therefore it can hover over a surface, retreat, and then fly off at tremendous speeds elsewhere!

    So too in genetic code research. If the genetic code is broken of various forms of diseases, it may help mankind to live a better life.

    Yet, as we have all seen, nature seems to come up with new mutants of these genes, providing even more work and headaches to the researching community seeking to help humans and animal kingdoms alike.

    If you'd like to learn more read Computational Genomics.