Public Health

C.J. Fuller cjfuller at
Tue Jan 20 12:25:53 EST 1998

In article <199801182308.SAA21286 at>,
ravena at (Karen Lona Allendoerfer) wrote:
<snipped for brevity>
>        So now I find myself again in a strange position.  I am applying
>for a position where "clinical interests" should be a plus, and finding all
>of the sudden, again, that I might not seem "clinical" enough.  I am always
>feeling like a fish out of water, that I don't fit into the clinical world,
>nor the basic science world, and that my dual interests are considered more
>of a liability than an asset in either place.  Either I'm a cold
>intellectual, too in my head for the MD's, or a naive dreamer without the
>proper drive and intellectual curiosity in the eyes of the PhD's.  And I
>still would like, somehow, to use my scientific talents and education to
>"help people."  The public, by and large, supports medical research very
>strongly.  The NIH has done well even in the budget-cutting years, and may
>do even better if the government actually balances the budget or has a
>surplus.  It seems like it ought to be a no-brainer to figure out how to do
>something that there's so much support for, but I'm having a lot of
> Does anyone have any ideas or thoughts?

Karen-You're in a good place to start.  Go visit Columbia's School of
Public Health and speak to the folks there.  One of my friends got an MPH
>From Columbia.  If Columbia's program is anything like the MPH program at
Chapel Hill, it's a non-thesis degree.  This has advantages and
disadvantages, but you've got a research PhD already.

I've been in a similar position as you are.  I was working as a research
tech at UT-SW back in the 80's and briefly considered going to medical
school after I got my dietetics credentials.  I wanted to do a MD/PhD. 
Several things dissuaded me-1) Having to take physics and P Chem; and 2)
All of the researchers who took MD/PhD students were basic scientists.  I
wanted to do stuff with humans, not be a gene jock.  (My apologies to the
molecular biologists, but I need to work with the whole human for anything
to make sense.)  After that I decided to get a straight PhD.  I went back
to UT-SW for my postdoc and found myself hobbled by the fact that I don't
have an MD, but do human research.  And getting a tenure-track position
there--forgetaboutit!  So here I am.  I'm able to do the human research I
love, although I do miss the medical school environment.  There's a
teaching hospital in town, but their seminars conflict with the classes I

Although NIH has strong public support, many grants for clinical research
get dinged by the review panels in favor of the basic science.  Supposedly
this is changing.  We'll see when I put in a proposal in the next year or


C.J. Fuller
<mailto:cjfuller at>
<mailto:cjfuller at>

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