Program Description

The Program in Cytogenetic Technology offers both a one-year and a two-year program with entry at either the junior or senior level. Entry level is dependent on applicant's completed prerequisite coursework. It is a highly intensive course of study in preparation for national certification as a cytogenetic technologist.

For each course students participate in a combination of classroom lectures, laboratory demonstrations, and hands-on technical experience. Because MD Anderson is one of the largest cancer centers in the world, many special areas of instruction can be presented, such as Spectral Karyotyping, home-brew FISH probe making and comparative genomic hybridization through aCGH.


The Program includes the following courses in the senior year:

  • Advanced Medical Genetics
  • Clinical Cytogenetics
  • Prenatal Cytogenetics
  • Cytogenetics of Hematological Malignancies
  • Advanced Cytogenic Laboratory Techniques
  • Molecular Genetic Technology
  • Basic Laboratory Techniques
  • Genetics of Hematologic Disease
  • Independent Research Project
  • Cytogenetics Journal Club
  • Special Topics
    • Laboratory Mathematics
    • Management and Education
    • Computer Technology
    • Immunology
    • Genetics

Upon successful completion of our Program you will be awarded a baccalaureate degree and will be eligible to take the national certification exams.

Please see the Health Professions Student Catalog for more information about the curriculum and course descriptions.


Classroom instruction and demonstration of competency precede hands-on activities. Students must complete each course with a minimum grade of 75% to remain in the Program during the senior year.


Under the direct supervision of experienced and certified cytogenetic technologists, students perform procedures using analytical methodology in a clinical cytogenetic laboratory.

Students set up cultures for chromosome analysis on peripheral blood, bone marrow, amniotic fluid and tissue specimens. Techniques for harvesting and preparing slides from these various cultures are described in detail, and students gain hands-on experience. Students complete cytogenetic analysis of test cases and learn how the reporting procedure is followed in clinical laboratories.

Students also learn the specialized staining techniques required to differentiate special regions of human chromosomes and to induce specific banding patterns necessary for the identification of genetic changes. These techniques include but are not limited to:

  • GTG banding
  • QFQ banding
  • CBG banding
  • AgNOR staining

Using the GTG banding technique, students spend a significant portion of the course mastering the pattern recognition necessary for accurate identification of normal human chromosomes. Students become familiar with common abnormal banding patterns associated with genetic disease.

DNA probe methodology is an important part of the curriculum, and students become proficient in labeling of DNA with fluorescent dyes and hybridization of DNA to target DNA both on agarose gels and glass microscope slides. Techniques learned include:

  • PCR methodology
  • Fluorescent in situ hybridization
  • Spectral Karyotyping

Students are instructed in the methodology required to scan, review, count cells and analyze slides for metaphase spreads. The curriculum includes detailed instructions in imaging of cytogenetic preparations with automated computer imaging systems.

Why MD Anderson?

MD Anderson has consistently ranked among the nation's top two hospitals in cancer care, in the "America's Best Hospitals" survey published annually since 1990 in U.S. News & World Report magazine. MD Anderson is one of the original models for federally designated comprehensive cancer centers, and is internationally recognized for its exceptional strength in patient care, research and educational programs.