Career in the Microbio Sciences

whoami whoami at
Fri Feb 18 10:43:51 EST 2000

In response to Jim's Comments:

Very well said but I just don't see the trend toward improvement Jim is
talking about.  If I get to contact him next week, probably Wed./Thrus., and if
we ever meet or talk, I'll have a better idea of why he thinks as he does.

He is very correct in his comments about antimicrobial, antifungals, and
tuberculosis, and the world is loaded with at least a dozen bacterial diseases
that should be heavily studied--and such studies should be funded.
However, I'm not at all certain society has the will to do so.  Or to maintain
an effort.  

And most of the funding will go to the low end of the spectrum/grad students 
and postdocs  or to the high end of the spectrum- major corporations and

There is absolutely no doubt that there is NEED for microbiology to be done,
and there is also absolutely no doubt people with certain knowledge and
skills in micro are rapidly disappearing from the face of the earth--
(I'm talking about isolation, culture, identify- skills that
were once widely taught and widely known within the Med Tech community... and
are now almost a faint memory.  Many so-called microbiologists have never
learned these things).

I just don't think there really is such a career as microbiologist.

One can be an Academic, a Teacher- who does micro research and teaches.
In this example the primary occupation is "Professor"

Or one can be in medical diagnostics, a med tech in the bac T section...
In this instance one is a Med Tech.

Microbiology by itself is merely moving from project to project as an itinerant
worker.  It is not a career.

In article <38AD287E.C7093092 at>, jimhu at says...

>If you've followed this thread, you know that I'm somewhat more optimistic
>than most of the posters.
>Specifically regarding microbiology, however, there are some reasons for a
>little more hope than a lot of other life sci careers.
>On the demand side:
>1.  In the US, NSF has identified microbiology as a national need area and has
>set up special funding areas and programs like higher paying postdoctoral
>fellowships.  Caveat - who knows if they'll be there by the time you get a
>2.  I'm more optimistic about biotech in general than most.  I think the
>initial PR bounce led to unrealistic expectations, but biotech is going to
>revolutionize our lives unless the Greens and Luddites succeed in banning it.
>The merits of this debate are not clear on either side (as usual, the right
>approach is probably  between the extremes), but I'm betting that it won't be
>stopped.  A lot of biotech industry needs microbiologists, since microbes are
>one of the main sources of high volume production of recombinant products.  An
>interesting new development is producing the stuff in plants, but that's
>another story.  So, I do think there will be industrial jobs.
>3. Rising clinical antibiotic resistance will mean a greater need for
>microbiologists in medicine and pharmaceutical research.  Tuberculosis is
>rampant in the former Soviet Union, and some nasty drug resistant strains are
>already in the West.  I just read an interesting article about using DNA
>tricks to look for new antibiotics in soil microbes that you can't grow in the
>4. We still don't have very many good antifungal treatments.  What actually
>kills AIDS patients is often fungal infections.
>On the supply side:
>1. There aren't a lot of good young microbiologists in the pipeline.  Although
>there are lots of PhDs in the life sciences, there was a trend away from
>bacterial work that started after most of the big "central dogma" problems
>were solved in the 1960s and 1970s.
>2. The aging demographics are more pronounced in microbiology than in the rest
>of biology, especially in bacteriology.  However, there is NOT a shortage of
>PhDs working on yeast.
>I think these trends lead to opportunities for young scientists interested in
>microbiology.  However, "opportunity" is a relative term, and here I mean it
>in comparison to other science careers in Biology.  All of the pitfalls that
>Art and others have mentioned are still there.
>Many of the posts point out that the future is hard to predict, and that
>trends in all careers are moving toward the need for continuous retraining.
>The tmost important part of training in a good PhD program is more about
>learning flexible thinking than it is in mastering a particular biological
>Just my $0.02
>Jim Hu
>Matt Teeter wrote:
>> It seems that the consensus is that there are very few job opportunities
>> right now for people with Ph.D.s in Microbiology or a similar science.
>> However, if I were to get a Ph.D., it would be in a little over ten years
>> from now. What do you think of job opportunities then? Obviously it is not
>> an exact science -- nobody can predict the future. There is talk about how
>> scientist are getting older and retiring, but there won't be enough people
>> to fill the jobs that they leave as most students are getting into computer
>> science and related fields. Any comments?
>> Matt

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