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Pathology: A Career in Medicine Brochure

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Administrator/Managing Editor
Donna Stivers
Phone: (301) 634-7200
Fax: (301) 634-7990

Molecular Pathology

The tools of molecular biology contribute to the rapid growth of new tests with both greater accuracy and precision in many of the above areas of laboratory medicine. Infectious agents are identified by virtue of their unique DNA and RNA sequences. Molecular identification of chromosomal rearrangements is used for diagnosis, guiding treatment, monitoring the effectiveness of therapy and detection of residual disease. Genetic alterations underlying heart diseases, iron metabolism defects, and congenital abnormalities, to name a few, are far more common than was previously recognized. Prenatal screening is now available to detect many genetic diseases, such as hemoglobin disorders, cystic fibrosis, and storage diseases. Genetic susceptibility to certain types of cancer is another emerging testing area. The advent of new treatments for certain breast cancers depends on identification of a gene that is amplified and over-expressed in those cancers. The new field of pharmacogenomics focuses on the genetic basis of the metabolism of many important medications, affecting decisions on drug selection and dosage.