Sangavi Sivagnanasundram

Master of Genomics and Health

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"If you are passionate about the realm of genomics, human genetics and even bioethics, or if you aren’t sure what your true passion is but you have an interest in the field of genomics, this is the degree for you."

SangaviI’ve always wanted to have a balance between clinical work and research work and didn’t want to get too bogged down in one or the other. The Master of Genomics and Health and joins the two but also lets you have freedom to venture into a range of different areas - namely, you have the opportunity to explore areas of public health and bioethics that you may not get the chance if you did a course with only core subjects. The practical aspects of the course and the interaction you have with the genetic counselling students was eye-opening and wholesome. Having the chance to put your learning into practice when conducting an internship, but also develop skills through the counselling subject are ones that I will carry forward with me throughout the years.

Prior to starting the course, I was working as a medical receptionist at a small GP clinic over in Perth after finishing up my undergraduate degree in Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology. I chose the University of Melbourne as there was no other university that offered a degree like this one that allowed us to shape the degree to our interests. It was a risk moving across the country away from family, but one that I don’t regret.

I enjoyed the fact that the course was good balance between being specific and broad and we had freedom to shape the degree based on our interests. It’s not every day that you see a master’s degree that has an option to either do research or continue your degree through the choice of electives.

Before going in, I thought I would have to choose the research stream as I would be missing out on vital and key learning objectives that future employers and companies are looking for. Looking back at it now, I don’t regret choosing the elective stream at all as I mentioned I like both sides of the coin, the research and clinical and investigative approach.

Having chosen the electives stream, I developed a lot of practical skills just from my electives and core subjects. Having done electives in Project Management and Scientist Communication in the Workplace, I developed skills that strengthened my public speaking skills and even my ability to work in group situations, especially with people being remote and living in various other countries.

In the final year, we were able to take on two internships. Having that internship experience, I truly gained and developed personal and professional skills that I will carry forward and use in the workplace. It allowed me to put my learning into perspective and the acknowledgment I received from those in the professional workplace was a massive confidence boost. My internship experiences allowed me to develop skills that I hadn’t learnt from my theoretical education from the last two years. The internship experience allowed me to develop my personal skills and network with people who I would like to work with in future and build rapport. The internship subject also helps you to envision what life after the degree will be like and allow you to network with influential people in your field of your interest.

I always had an interest in genetic and genomic testing and when I came across the subject in variant curation, I had a moment of realisation that this was what I was looking for. Having the ability to undergo an internship at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and learning the procedure standards of how curation is done in various pathology labs was very rewarding and an experience I wouldn’t have gotten if I had done a degree elsewhere.

My future career goals with a Masters of Genomics and Health are to work in variant curation with any molecular genetics team.

Variant curation is such a unique skill set that I’ve had the pleasure to learn in my degree. Having an intensive course over two semesters that taught me the foundation of variant curation as well as the fundamental skills required to formulate reports for clinicians in the field of genetics and genomics.

If you are passionate about the realm of genomics, human genetics and even bioethics, or if you aren’t sure what your true passion is but you have an interest in the field of genomics, this is the degree for you.

The degree gives you the space to grow but also shape the subjects according to your interest as you go on. Your interest in the course at the beginning of the degree may change as you go on, however with the support of the course staff, you can’t go wrong. Another good aspect of this course is the segue you have into the Master of Genetic Counselling should you choose to go down that path. Having that close interaction with those students during classes you end up building up a strong rapport and friendship with them, which is great as I am sure we will all be working together someday.

Find out more about the Master of Genomics and Health