Hot Topic?

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Hot Topic?

Postby Mathew » Wed May 03, 2006 11:19 pm

Hi All,
Im finishing my PhD soon at last. However, the thought of the 'unknown' outside world is a little intimidating. I would like a lot of help to enable me to plan my future. I am in a virology lab, working more on the neurodegeneration due to virus than the virus itself. Could someone advise me on what would constitute a hot research field at present within virology/neurodegeneration for post doctoral studies?. I see a lot of profiles and I want to be in a lab where I can secure a good future for myself in academia/industry. Being in Canada, I am restricted in the number of labs I can choose and I love all the top labs here, which is confusing me. I know that my question is naive and my apologies for the same, but I need some guidance. Thanks a lot.
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Hot Topic?

Postby D. John » Thu May 04, 2006 4:45 am

Hi Joe:

Congratulations!! Please be a bit more specific about your background. Saying, "I am in a virology lab, working more on the neurodegeneration due to virus than the virus itself," really doesn't give us any real specifics we can use to help you out. Putting this background info. into a concise couple of sentences would be a great asset to have when you go out looking for jobs. Why not put togehter a profile on this forum so we can know a little more about you.

D. John
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Hot Topic?

Postby Mathew » Thu May 04, 2006 9:36 am

Hi John: Thanks for your response. I study death of brain cells (neurons) due to toxins (free radicals) released when neighboring cells get infected with HIV.Using mouse models and in vitro expts.I have identified transporter/receptor molecules and developed assays for preventing cell death, developed a novel assay for PCR quantification of virus copies. I have published 1 paper with 2 more under review. I approached this forum because I know where my strengths are-neuronal death pathways which I like, but I dont know if something hotter like the flu virus or SARS is what I should be doing my post-doc studies (this is what my boss urges me to) so as to get a job in future. Simply put, should I be in a lab where I can study what I like or be more pragmatic about the topics I choose in terms of career prospects?
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Hot Topic?

Postby Elizabeth » Thu May 04, 2006 11:34 am

I don't think anybody can predict what is going to be the hot topic at the end of your postdoc when you are competing for "real" jobs. Bioinformatics looked very hot several years ago and lots of people jumped into it, but when many of them hit the job market, the craze had died down pretty much. Infectious diseases looked like an obsolete field for some time, but with new pathogens and new pathways to study the mechanisms, you see the resurgence in the field. I don't think neuronal cell death would go out of fashion anytime soon if you study it in the context of Alzheimer or Parkinson or a variety of diseases that affect the aging society.
The best bet is to join a well-funded lab that's publishing very actively and where you can be productive.
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Hot Topic?

Postby R.S.D. » Thu May 04, 2006 2:34 pm

Here are some questions you should ask about these labs and of yourself that may help you decide:

1. what types of systems do these labs work in - mouse, tissue culture, clinical samples, etc? Can you see yourself using a system in the future to go in new directions and are those directions interesting to you?

2. What type of working environment do the labs offer? Small, large, medium sized labs? Large institution, small institution? Are the labs part of a larger collaborative group focused on a particular research area? What type of environment would you like and what would be best given your career goals? There's a big difference between working in a small, focused lab that mainly does its own thing vs. a large lab that is part of a big collaborative research program.

3. What type of style does the PI have? What type of management style works best for you? As you know if you visit this forum often, personality conflicts between postdocs and their PIs cause many, many problems and, in some cases, ruin careers. Talk with your current advisor and be honest with yourself and choose wisely.

4. How well have the trainees from these labs done on the job market? Are they getting tenure-track positions, industry positions, government positions, or leaving science and going back to school in something else? The ultimate goal of a postdoc is to get the training you'll need to meet your career goals and make the transition to the next level.

Hot topics come and go, as Elizabeth points out, and I think it's best to choose a research topic based on your passions-expertise-career goals and then sort out your options based on the above criteria.

Good luck.
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Hot Topic?

Postby Wendy » Thu May 04, 2006 2:36 pm

In fact, you are working in an very important and dynamic field. HIV associated dementia attracts more and more research attention. HIV induced neuron dealth is one of the mechanisms underlying this disease. If your future goal is to obtain an academic position, the research direction of your postdoc is better to stick to the field that your PhD study was focused on. Finally, you waste no time to become an expert in the same field. However, in your postdod stage, you should enrich yourself with new concepts and new technologies which are the current trends in this field. For example, if your PhD study was focused on the theory of free radicals, you may shift your direction a bit toward to neuroinflammation (cytokine, chemokine stuff) in your postdoc stage. Always pick up new things theoretically or technically. No matter a new lab or a well established lab in your postdoc, there should be something new you can learn. Otherwise, why bother go there?
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Hot Topic?

Postby Shawn » Thu May 04, 2006 2:48 pm

Prions. :) What could be more exciting than studying a neurodegenerative disease that is caused by an infectious protein and is the only disease that can be infectious, familial, and sporadic. Its a full package!
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