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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Genomics?

Genomics is the most predominant aspect of biology concerned with the interaction of DNA in a cell with the processes that occur in a cell and your own body. This includes the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of genomes and processes all at once.

Merritt College’s novel Genomics Program is based upon Next-Generation and Third-Generation DNA sequencing and is designed to provide employees for the growing Genomics industry in the United States. At Merritt, students are offered a unique opportunity to study DNA from a medical perspective. Genetic variation known as SNP (single nucleotide ploymorphism) detection and genetic disease detection are emphasized. Mastery of sample preparation, operation of standard equipment and analysis of DNA will be emphasized. The program will:

  • Provide access to modern equipment used by the Genomics industry as a means for practical experience and personal research.
  • Provide needed skill sets to students to fulfill biotech, forensic, and medical jobs of the present and future.
  • Provide on-the-job training to ensure that our students are the best-qualified people in a well-paying job market.
  • Partner with industry and training according to industry needs, ensuring that the biotechnology component of the Bay Area economy continues to grow, providing jobs for the future.


Is Genomics a growing industry?

Several indications lead to Genomics and related bioinformatics being among the fastest job growth areas. Experts expect Genomics to increase at an astounding compound annual growth rate of 26.9% through 2015 and beyond, and the related Bioinformatics segment to increase at a rate of 19.3% (for comparison, general science and technology areas have been growing at about 7.9% during the recession, while many non-science and technology fields have been contracting).

New DNA sequencing technologies are continuing to emerge that are radically changing the structure of medicine and biotechnology and opening up exciting new applications. Contributing to the rise of these new sequencing technologies are advances in (1) Nanotechnology, (2) Microfluidics, (3) Imaging, (4) Enzymology, and (5) Bioinformatics. DNA sequencing is a strategic Genomics tool that allows us to study how the genome varies among individuals and how that variation correlates to disease. DNA sequencing technologies are a critical part of today’s life-science industry, affecting a wide range of medical and other commercial activities from drug discovery to diagnostics, revolutionizing anything that has to do with biology from A to Z (Agriculture to Zoology). The sequencing industry is undergoing major shifts in technology, applications, and markets that will change how Genomics is done in the future. We have an Advisory Board from industry, government, and academia to ensure that our training remains relevant. (Go to:


What background do I need to start the program?

Our Genomics Program is particularly relevant for those who have fulfilled or partially fulfilled requirements for Allied Health careers, since many of the pre-requisites are the same; some knowledge of Biology, which can be Intro to Bio (Bio 10), General Biology (Bio 1a and/or 1b), AP high school biology, Anatomy Bio 2, Physiology Bio 4, or Microbiology Bio 3. We are emphasizing Medical Genomics, because it is becoming clear that the field of Genomics is the new medicine. Hospitals are dramatically expanding their use of DNA sequencing not only for detection of genetic diseases, but also for identification of pathogens and targeted treatments.


What career opportunities are available?

Everything that is living has DNA and is therefore pertinent to this area. Technicians in the following fields as follows: (1) Pharmacology, (2) Forensics, (3) Agriculture, (4) Disease Detection, (5) Food Pathogen Detection, (6) Water Quality, (7) Biofuels, (8) Waste Management, (9) Toxic Waste Site Clean-up, (10) Cancer Research, (11) Progressive Genetic Disease Research (such as Alsheimers), (12) Genetic Counseling, (13) Tracking the History of Life, (14) Conservation, (15) Forestry, and (16) Computer Science.


What is the curriculum to earn each Certificate?

The curriculum for each Certificate is listed below (the number of units are  next to each class).  The classes are acceptable for credit at CSUs.