What is Medical (or Clinical) Genetics?


What is Medical (or Clinical) Genetics?

Clinical or Medical Genetics is a relatively young, small speciality in the UK, which has grown steadily since the first Genetics Clinic began at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1946. There are currently about 90 NHS Consultant Clinical Geneticists  working at 25 Regional Centres around the UK, supported by hundreds of paramedical and scientific professionals.

Due to scientific and technological advances and increasing public and professional awareness of genetic issues, Medical Genetics is rapidly gaining importance, and the need for substantial growth in staff numbers is being increasingly recognised at the highest levels.


What is the difference between 'Medical' and 'Clinical' genetics?

The terms are often used interchangeably - some departments are called 'Clinical Genetics' and others 'Medical Genetics'. Both deal with the application of the science of genetics to human beings' medical problems.

Some people however, recognise a distinction between the terms, using 'medical genetics' to refer to those aspects carried out exclusively by medical doctors (such as diagnosis), and 'clinical genetics' to refer to aspects also carried out by non-medical clinical staff (such as genetic counselling).

The Royal College of Physicians, which oversees the training of medical specialists (doctors), refers to the speciality as 'Clinical Genetics', and specialist physicians as 'Clinical Geneticists'.