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Name: Kevin W Deronne
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Dear Scientists,

I am interested in entering the field of genetics. What are some of the courses in high school and beyond you would recommend taking? How far in my schooling should I continue before I get a job? A masters or a Ph.D.? I also have a question regarding genetics. Would it be theoretically possible to change a person's DNA so that he or she would be able to produce chloroplasts and therefore be able to make his or her own food? Also, how much of human DNA has been mapped? I thank you very much.

Genetics is a marvelous field of study - I encourage you to keep exploring it! High school courses should include as much math, biology as much math, biology, and chemistry as you can get your hands on. Your future education depends on what you want to do in genetics. Genetics researchers usually have a Ph.D., although some of the lab assistants have masters degrees. Genetic counselors (who work in human medical genetics) often have a specific masters degree. Others who work as geneticist doctors will get a medical degree, with additional specialty training beyond that.

Regarding your specific question: no, people will not be able to have their own chloroplasts; to do so would require many many different genes, all working in proper rhythm, and such an undertaking is far beyond us now.

Crude maps of much of the human genome have already been constructed both by seeing which genes are near other genes, and by physically mapping DNA fragments in a particular order. A significant effort is being put forth to make this map better, to the point of finally having all of the genome sequence available.

Steve J Triezenberg

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