The words genetic and genomic are often used interchangeably. However, they have different and specific meanings.
Genetics is the
study of heredity. It is the study of how
inherited traits are passed from one generation to the next
through the genes, and how new traits appear by way of genetic
mutations or changes. These traits may be characteristics like
eye or hair color.
Genomics is a more
recent term that describes the study of all of a person's
genes (the genome). Genomics is defined as the study of genes and
their functions, and related techniques.
The main difference between genomics and genetics is that
genetics looks at
the functioning and composition of a single gene and genomics
addresses all genes and their inter relationships in order
to identify their combined influence on the growth and
development of an
Genetic information is stored in the molecule DNA. Gene refers to a specific sequence
of DNA on a single chromosome that encodes a particular
product. Humans have many
thousands of genes, spaced across the entire set of DNA.
The word genome encompasses the entire set of genetic
information across all 23 chromosome pairs, including all
genes, as well as gene-modifying sequences, and everything
In the context of
clinical and research settings, "genetic" testing refers to
the examination of specific bits of DNA that have a known
Genomic testing looks for variations within large segments
across the entirety of genetic material, both within and
outside known functional genes. It looks at groups of genes and how
active they are, such as how a cancer is likely to grow and
respond to treatment.
All the genes
make up the genome. Both are important because understanding
more about diseases caused by a single gene using
genetics and complex diseases caused by multiple
genes and environmental factors using genomics
can lead to earlier diagnoses, interventions, and