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Cytogenetic Technologists

The Job

Cytogenetic technologists prepare biological specimens on slides and use microscopes to study them for genetic disorders and diseases. They study specimens such as bodily fluids, blood, bone marrow, and amniotic fluids. One slide may have as many as 100,000 or more cells, so cytogenetic technologists must be focused and accurate in their work. They examine chromosomes, looking for cell patterns that are abnormal or cells that have certain colors, shapes, or sizes that could indicate a genetic disease or disorder, such as issues with fertility, blood disorders, and congenital birth defects.

The daily work activities of cytogenetic technologists include preparing the biological specimens for laboratory examination and then examining the specimens by using equipment such as light microscopes and photomicroscopes. They use computer imaging systems to create the images of chromosomes for examination. Some examples of the types of analytical or scientific software programs that they use: Genial Genetics iGene; Cell Bioscience Automated Image Capture; and Lucia MFISH. They also use database user interface and query software and spreadsheet software programs to conduct research and write reports.

Some laboratories may have medical technicians, known as cytotechnicians, prepare the slides for examination. Cytogenetic technologists work independently and also consult frequently with other laboratory workers, supervisors, pathologists, and physicians regarding their studies and findings. Many work in hospital laboratories, public or private medical laboratories, and in research facilities.

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