MD vs. PhD vs. MD/PhD : what's best for research?

bhjelle at bhjelle at
Mon Dec 20 13:43:34 EST 1993

In article <2equciINN3ks at>,
Matt Harrington <mbharrin at> wrote:
>I'm in the process of deciding which degree to pursue next.  I figure
>that I'm happiest doing research in the biomedical field, especially in
>biophysics.  I'm aware of MD/PhD programs out there, but I haven't been
>able to get information about the usefulness of this combined degree.
>I'd like to hear opinions about which degree is best for research
>careers, and what's the advantage of getting an MD for someone solely
>interested in research?  What kinds of things are MD/PhD people doing in
>terms of research or medical practice?  Are there more opportunitites in
>research for those with an MD compared to those with just a PhD?  Is
>either degree more respected in the scientific community?
It depends to an extreme degree upon what you expect to do in
the biomedical research arena. If your work is certain to
involve human subjects extensively, you will probably find
it easier going to have an MD. There are plenty of exceptions,
however. In a recent project I embarked upon recently (I'm an
MD), involving the Four Corners hantavirus (and for which
a very rapid response time was critical), having an MD
was an extremely valuable asset in obtaining patient
material and credibility in general.

If your work is truly going to involve basic biophysics,
and no large number of human subjects, you will do fine
to get a PhD. It is the most direct and straightforward
route to engage in truly basic biomedical research.


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