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Cytogenetics is a sub-discipline of genetics, or a crossover between genetics and cytology, which focuses on genetic material, including chromosomes, blood, other fluids, tissue and bone marrow, in the study and prevention of genetic disorders. Such disorders can include some cancers, deformities, birth defects, mental health problems and organ failures, amongst others.
Cytogeneticists may take genetic material from patients of all ages, from unborn foetuses to grown adults. They may also work with a range of subjects, from patients with minor learning difficulties to people suffering from life-threatening or debilitating conditions.
The nature of their work is such that cytogeneticists will often need to work as part of a multidisciplinary team, sometimes comprised of doctors in all specialisms, geneticists, biomedical scientists, paediatricians and obstetricians. Some cytogeneticists will specialise exclusively in prenatal diagnosis, checking for defects in unborn babies.
The vast majority of work is likely to be carried out in a laboratory environment, with very little to no contact with patients.
Some senior biomedical scientists will choose to divide their time between clinical work and teaching in higher education institutions.