Career in the Microbio Sciences

wayne conlan wayne.conlan at
Mon Feb 14 11:43:26 EST 2000

Hi Matt:
            I'm a  microbiologist who has spent the past 18 years working in
infectious diseases research, first in the UK, then the USA, and now Canada.
It's been a hard slog, and although I've enjoyed most of it, I still reflect on
whether I'd do it differently if I had the opportunity to turn back the clock.
Time and again I come to the conclusion that I'd probably have been better off
if I'd first obtained a professional degree (medical or veterinary). It doesn't
take any longer than undergraduate plus graduate school to achieve, and offers a
number of advantages over the latter.  Firstly, I'd have learned a lot of useful
techniques in training rather than on the job later.  Secondly, biomedical
research careers can be very precarious (just tune into this news group on a
routine basis to hear about this), and a professional degree is a much better
cushion to fall back on than a PhD if your research career goes belly up.
Thirdly, as an MD researcher (with or without a PhD), you'll earn more money and
command more respect.  Fourthly, if you want to do frontline clinical research
(i.e. with patients), then an MD is probably a must.

Right now, there is a perception that there are too few pathologists in the
system (though this could just be political hype so check carefully), so chosing
this specialty might prove prescient. Either way, you will be committing
yourself to a prolonged period of hard work with little financial reward, so do
you homework carefully now to avoid disappointment later.  Good luck in whatever
path you choose, and don't be afraid to approach these news groups for further



Matt Teeter wrote:

> Hello everyone,
> I am interested in cells, especially disease / viruses, etc, and am very
> interested in a career in biotechnology or biomedicine. What I would like to
> know is what would be the best education for such? Luckily, I live in an
> area (in Canada) that offers many, many different programs. Microbiology,
> molecular biology, biochemistry, pathology, and immunology. Basically, what
> degree should I go for? I can get a regular B.Sc. in any of the areas
> mentioned above (except for pathology) or I can get a co-op B.Sc. in
> Microbiology which is a six year program instead of 4, and has two years of
> lab work mixed in. I can also get an M.Sc. or a Ph.D. in any of those areas.
> Also, I have been looking at getting an M.D. and then doing a residency in
> Pathology or a similar program, and then getting into clinical research.
> What are your thoughts on this? I am mostly interested in doing research
> (i.e. cancer).
> Thanks,
> Matt

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