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Bioinformatics: Industry or PhD?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:50 am
by Yannick D
Dear all,

I am a student of Computational Biology in Germany. Currently, I am working on my master thesis that I hopefully will finish in about 2-3 months. During my studies I have learned a lot about relevant principles and methods for many parts of this huge field. In my extra curricular activities and even my bachelor and master thesis, I have done a lot in molecular modelling (With docking,screening, Dynamics, a it of statistics), and that really captivated me.

Well, since not less than 9 months , I have been seriously thinking about which move to make at the next level. Industy or PhD? And even at which location? I must say that I am very interested in taking a PhD in an english speaking country, if I choose the phD option.Also, working in a company in an English speaking country, such as England, Canada or the U.S. would be a good opportunity, since I can speak and write English, German and French.One month ago, I was at 2 career fairs here in Germany and what I\'ve taken as a kind of big picture was: either I go to the industry and develop software for bioinformatics purposes, or take a phd for doing research later.

Actually, my plan is to make research but in the Industry. As a computational biologist, this means for me not only running for example virtual screening tools and/or analysing data, but also being able to develop these kind of tools. However in most companies which offer positions for bioinformaticans/computational biologist, it seems that the candidate must have a PhD in order to do research (at leat here in Europe). Despite all the advantages that a PhD brings (more knowledge, relations, possible future in the academy-what won\'t be my first option even with a phD-,etc...), I am wondering if I should choose this option. I\'ve got a proposition in canda for a PhD, but then come the next problems..

1)The European master (5 years of studies in germany and most countries) isn\'t equivalent to the canadian one (about 6 years). So it is possible that I would not start with a phd directly. Even if I want to work as software developer in a company there, my Msc won\'t be enough.

2)According to the person who could be my supervisor, pepole take about 5 years for doing a phD. I\'ll be 26 soon!

3)As a non american and non european, it is extremly difficult to find fundings, what makes it difficult or even \"impossible\" to make a phD. This situation sometimes make me think it could be a good idea to start working first and then do a phD..But would it be worth again in 2-3 years, as the number of Ms and Phd in bioinformatics/Computational biology kepps growing?

4) I have been thinking about doing a phD in a company, but it seems not to be that easy for several reasons (especially, difficulties in publishing papers)

On the other hand, I feel like I want to learn more, and really contribute to research bringing my gained knowledge into play, and this could be possible with a phd.

So I am kind of stuck, and I really need help.

Many of you people have certainly dealt with this issue. Could you give me an hint?
Since there are some of you that lead research units in some companies and/or research units, what would you give me as advice?

I have read some messages about the topic \"Industry or PhD\", but my situation is actually at least a bit different than any of thoses described there.

Thank you very much for your consideration.