What would be a good career choice?

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What would be a good career choice?

Postby Jonathon W. » Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:56 pm

I would like to thank all of the active posters on this forum. Keep up the good work! As a current sophomore undergraduate, this forum has allowed me to get some great insights into what I need to do with my career in the future.

So, here is a question I have. After I complete my undergraduate studies (double major in Genetics and Molecular Biology), I want to get a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics. I know I still have a while before I get into graduate school and begin the process of my career, but I would like to get some insight with a question I have. Here is the question. I don?t really want to spend a lot of time teaching, but I won?t mind teaching, and I would like to spend my time at the bench researching human disorders and diseases. What would be a good career choice be for someone who can be in control of their own research that is being conducted in the lab and not spend a lot of time teaching and not be under the control of others for the research that can be done in the lab? Some people that I have talked to have mentioned an independent research firm. What are some of the details, positives, and negatives of an independent research firm? What are some other good career choices that could be a possibility? How about a PI or a tenure professorship? Would it be better to have a lab at a medical school or graduate school?

Thank you for your time.

Jonathon W.

What would be a good career choice?

Postby Teresa » Thu Feb 03, 2005 10:33 am

If you want to be an acedemic with a lighter teaching load then you would do well as a PI at a Medical School. You will have to be very good at bringing in the research grants to keep such a position however.

I'll let the experts handle your other questions...
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What would be a good career choice?

Postby Dave Jensen » Thu Feb 03, 2005 11:18 am

Hi Jonathon,

I'm not sure what you mean by the words "Independent Research Firm." Are you talking about a company, like Genentech or Amgen, or an Institute like Battelle? Regardless, the work you speak of -- fully independent research, where you decide the direction you are going -- is only done in academia. In private companies or laboratories, you may get some independence, but there is a great deal more of "interdependence," a state where you are responsible to work with a team of others, often on research goals that are set by someone else (management). Life in an independent research institute is a lot closer to academia (see the website for the J. David Gladstone Research Institute, for example). Still, not quite as "free" for researchers as a purely academic setting.

Setting your sights on someone who has this true freedom of research means that you are going to target a tenured professorship, and only about 15% of PhD's can land those spots here in the USA. That is a very worthy goal, Jonathon, but as you can tell by some of the frustration from others on this site, it is a tough road to hoe. You'll need to get through all the years of grad school, your PhD, and a postdoc or two before you approach the selection process by some academic center.

Good luck to you and keep in touch,

Dave Jensen, Moderator
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