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What does an embryologist do?

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Quick Answer

Embryologists are specialized biologists concerned with the development of the child in the womb. As such, their expertise centers upon the entire span of development beginning with initial fertilization and ending with the maturing of the fetus.

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Not all embryologists perform the same function, as clinical roles differ from laboratory to laboratory. However, they consistently conduct research into the genetics of embryos and how they function during the various stages of growth. Such research is often vital in identifying, trouble-shooting, preventing or ameliorating difficulties experienced by women during pregnancy and for helping to ensure the health of the child when it arrives. Consequently, embryologists work in a diverse array of environments, including such sites as fertility clinics, hospitals, universities, biotechnology firms, embryology labs, government institutions and other commercial facilities.

Schooling for embryologists is extensive, with courses including biomedical subjects, andrology, ethics, cryo-preservation, genetics and cellular biology. It is necessary for students pursuing this field to engage in both lecture and laboratory environments. While more than a bachelor's degree is not always required to work as an embryologist, many graduates eventually obtain master's and even doctorate degrees to advance and become managers. Additionally, these advanced degrees may allow embryologists to expand their career potential through teaching at colleges and universities. At such advanced levels, there is also the potential for publication in field-related journals and texts.

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