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Picking a PhD, some advice required

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 922 IrishKnight


    I might have the opportunity in doing a PhD with my fourth year PI. It would be in the area of cancer research, using mostly biochem and proteomic tech. But I do have my heart set on regenerative medicine.

    So my question to you is this, does it matter what field you do your PhD in or would one get "typed-casted" making it harder to switch fields? Or are PhD's more about developing ones mind and what not?


Comments



  • The most important thing is to pick a good supervisor who will look out for you and train you. The next most thing thing is high quality science and getting published. Certain skills are transferable and you could theoretically segue into regen med from there, but only if you have the right connections and if you've built up an impressive profile with your PhD supervisor. Without these, it will be harder to switch fields the deeper you go in.

    But you may find that you like cancer research better anyway. Regenerative medicine is a bit of a pig in a poke. I've worked in it for years and it's not all it's cracked up to be. And if you're thinking of staying in Ireland, doubly moreso.




  • Thanks for the reply, just a few questions arising.

    In terms of "an impressive profile", would that be having papers published in high impact journals, attending/presenting at conferences etc? Would there be more to it than that?

    Also, you say that regen med is a bit of a pig in a poke. How so? Is it a case of people thinking that one would be curing disorders left right and centre?




  • In terms of "an impressive profile", would that be having papers published in high impact journals, attending/presenting at conferences etc? Would there be more to it than that?

    The above, and having demonstrated skills with certain technologies. But mostly the above. And having the right connections holds more weight than these, in my experience.
    Also, you say that regen med is a bit of a pig in a poke. How so? Is it a case of people thinking that one would be curing disorders left right and centre?

    It would be a case of the science being endless 'proof-of-concept' stuff with little chance of actually being rolled out clinically - that's just my opinion and people will disagree. And the level of work in this area being done in Ireland is modest.




  • Thanks for the info. Most helpful!




  • Would agree with what 2Scoops has said to you.

    The most important thing is the supervisor and the project you will be working on. Even having working with your potential supervisor is a good thing in that it can give you a good insight into what they would be like supervision wise.

    You have mentioned most of the characteristics of an impressive supervisor. Just to add to that I would recommend you check that they have a record of recent publication, preferably within Ireland and are not living off the back of work done years ago in a different country.

    Don't think you will have any problem changing fields after a PhD. Regenerative medicine to me is a very generic term that could encompass alot of different things and is a bit of a buzz term really.


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  • It's been mentioned already, but "cancer research" and "regenerative medicine" are extremely broad terms, so I wouldn't be placing a great deal of significance on such labels. What's more important is the specific nature of the project and (perhaps most importantly) does it interest you and are you going to enjoy it? If at some point during your PhD you realise that there’s a slightly different area you want to move into when you’re done, discuss it with your supervisor and see if there’s anything that could be incorporated into your project that could help nudge you in your desired direction – it could be something as simple as learning a new technique/technology.

    Like so many things in life, researchers are only as restricted in their field of study as they allow themselves to be. For example, I did a degree in electronic engineering, a PhD in fungal biotechnology and I’m now working in virology (within the broader field of cancer research) – jaysus knows where I’ll end up next!


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