u2ecila

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Hi,
I am considering applying for an MD/PhD in biophysics. Anyone have any good advice on schools, the application process, or interesting personal experiences?

:)
thanks!
alice
 

brandonite

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My research area will be biophysics. But I haven't gotten far enough along in the cycle now to know exactly which schools have good programs, etc... Anybody?
 
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u2ecila

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Hi brandonite,

Do you know what you want to focus on in biophysics? I'm looking at several thing, but I'd like to tie it in to the gravity wave research I did back in undergrad (I've been out a few years). I honestly don't even know what research is currently going on out there!

:cool:
alice
 
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mpp

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Not that I'm biased or anything, but I've heard that <a href="http://www.mayo.edu/mgs/bme-director.html" target="_blank">Mayo</a> has a great biomedical engineering department...
 

brandonite

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Right now, most of my stuff has been in imaging... I'll be working towards bringing a new 3T MRI machine online over the summer that my PI wants to use for fMRI of spinal cord injuries...

Anyway, I'm starting to find imaging really tedious and boring, so I'm trying to decide between heading more towards biology, and doing something in the molecular biophysics and biochemistry realm (I like the program at Yale for that), or doing more technical things and getting into BME. I'm going to give that some though.

Gravity waves? That's cool! I have heard of them, but I don't know much about them... I'll have to go do some research... <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />

And, thanks, mpp. I'll look into Mayo. It's actually pretty close to where I live right now - maybe a seven hour drive?? So, it might be nice to stay close to home...
 

mpp

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u2ecila,

Do you mean gravity waves or gravitational waves. I did some research looking at gravity waves in the atmosphere using LIDAR to measure Iron and Sodium concentrations in the mesosphere. Gravitational waves are much sexier although there always seems to be some confusion between the two.
 

sluox

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Biophysics has several branches, and I don't know how gravitational waves (which essentially has to do with quantum field theory and general relativity) can directly connect to the field. However...

1) Protein folding and macromolecular structure and dynamics, which has traditionally been the dominant field in biophysics, requires a lot of similiar mathematics (i.e. basic analysis, diffeq). In specific, people are starting to use path integral from QFT approach in solving the protein folding problem

2) In neurophysiology, which can be roughly considered a intersection between biophysics and neuroscience, many of the same mathematics is used (the math for Zeeman's effect in quantum mechanics is used for predicting visual hallucination, for instance)

In general, biophysics has more to do with condensed matter physics (crystals, solids, fluids) than high energy physics or cosmology. However, if you are strong in hard physics, it's pretty easy to make the transition.
 

brandonite

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Yes, thanks for that, sluox.

One of the reasons that I liked the program at Yale was that they seemed to tie biophysics and biochemistry together, which is more what I would like to get into. I have a pretty strong theoretical physics background, but I would like to get more into applications - the further away from Math, the better... <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />
 
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u2ecila

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Hi,
Yes, I do mean gravitational waves, not gravity waves. Our lab (UMCP) was working on an experiment trying to prove that the even waves exist. Unfortunately, they lost funding to the LIGO project right around the time I graduated.

I have been out of school for about 5 years, and I am not really sure how to bridge GR and medicine or what the current research areas are. My undergrad is actually in math, and since graduation I have been numbing my brain in systems engineering. Got a lot of work to do to get ready to go back to school!

mpp and sluox - what are you looking at doing MD/PhD in?

Thanks for all the info and keep it coming!

:)
 

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I'm pretty sure I want to do neuroscience. However, my background is in physics/math. So, I'm looking into applying physics in explaining problems of the brain. Either do theory or develop cool technologies.
 

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I am not planning on doing MD/PhD. I'll be starting medical school this August. I had worked on a PhD in physics, but I left before I finished. That was years ago.

Although I considered applying MD/PhD I didn't think I had the background for it (hell, I didn't think I had the background to get into medical school but somehow I slipped through the cracks). I've never done any medical research at all, my GPA is pretty low, and my graduate GPA is horrendous as I had left the program while still registered. I'm also 31 years old now, so committing to an MD/PhD program might be a bit much for me. The reason I didn't finish my PhD was just simply I did not have the passion for becoming a PhD physicist and, at the moment, I don't have the passion for becoming a PhD physician.

Longwinded answer eh?...
 

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hey brandonite..

I'm also interested in imaging. I have done a lot of stuff with the basic math/physics behind 3D and fMRI (pulse sequence programming, RF coil design), now I want to move more into the clinical area. I'm going to be working in an interventional MRI lab at Hopkins this summer. They work on MRI techniques such as using RF microcoils inside the body, and using MRI to aid in interventional cardiology procedures, so its a better blend of clinical stuff rather than just pure math and engineering.
 
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marq_bme

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Wow! I didn't know so many people were interested in imaging. I as well am a prospective bipohysics mudphud (hopefully). I have been working with the biophysics dept at the Medical College of WI for about a year now mostly with Diffusion and Dynamic enhancement MRI. My initial project was using DWI to analyze tumor reccurence, but the outlook was not good, so I have switched to CBV and CBF analysis in tumor with the long long LONG term hope of stopping angiogenesis.

I hope to get some substantial research done this summer through an NIH internship i picked up..I think its going to be stroke analysis though. I really love BME, and I would love if Baylor or some of the accepted mudphuds had any advice regarding prospective BME MSTP applicants. I heard JHU, Duke, and UCSD are spectacular research institutions for MRI--too bad they are all super competitive schools!
 

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baylor, i am well aware that you are the MSTP king, and your advice regarding BME and MSTP would be priceless.

JHU is the place to be (or so i hear)..but its also super competitive. congrats on your acceptance--that is very VERY impressive.

I have done some work with MRI (DWI, and CBV and CBF), but nothing as extensive as you have (pulse programming or coil design). I am fascinated with spin physics though, and i audited a Quantum Mechanics course..only to learn that I will never make it in physics. Still, MR theory fascinates me.

Where are the places to apply for MR? the list i have so far include JHU, Duke, MCW, HST(harvard-mit), UCSD, WashU, Vandy, Pitt, NWU, Uchicago, UW-madison? What schools did you turn down for MSTP? Im guessing your stats were phenomenal, but i am sitting with a 3.98 and a 33Q (14 in PS may help). I know the avg MSTP is like 36 or so, but ive seen people with 33, 30, and 29 get into Duke, UMinn, and Mayo respectively--so i know there is hope.

Did you have first author pubs? I am hoping to get my name on something before I apply, but am unsure as to when the final decision on the paper will be made. I have heard though that talking intelligibly about your research is the key thing at interviews and in essays, etc.

any reply would be much appreciated (I PM'ed you also)
 

brandonite

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An open question to all of us potential biophysicists:

What residency program do you think you might be interested in?

The more and more I think about it, radiology might not be for me. I don't know if the limited patient contact is exactly what I am looking for, and I think it might be a bit monotonous, at least clinically.

I am thinking right now something like cardiology or oncology. If my research is mainly in imaging, would it make sense to do my residency in a completely different area? Or should I look at altering my research right now?

I guess the one negative of an MD/PhD is that you are forced to make alot of choices about potential residencies very early...
 

Hopkins2010

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marq, I'm far from the MSTP king, although I do appreciate the thought. I think you'd have to bestow that honor on SonicHedgehog, my Hopkins MSTP colleague. He's been much more successful than I have at this process.

But anyways, i pm'ed you back.
 

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I'm not a mud phud, but I also work in biophysics and physiology at CWRU. It's cool to see so many of us in biophysics. My lab deals with proteins - antibodies. And my projects usually center around localization and characterization of specific calcium channel subunits whose deficiencies cause epileptic behavior (different types), marked by different antibody isoforms.
 

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</font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by brandonite:
<strong>An open question to all of us potential biophysicists:

What residency program do you think you might be interested in?

</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Radiation oncology is one field where an MD/PhD is extremely helpful. You get quite a bit of patient contact plus there is a fair bit of academic research going on. I wouldn't go into straight diagnostic radiology. as you mentioned, it's pretty monotonous and the applications of physics and math are limited.

I have been back and forth on the whole MD/PhD thing. I did my ugrad thesis on the whole repressor/DNA search problem, incorporating, as mentioned above, the idea of Feynman path integrals from QFT into calculating probabilities, from which we can get certain parameters, like rate constants, etc. However, I am more into mathematical modeling now, as I have really found my niche (mathematician, not a physicist) but I am not really aware of any PhD programs that have a strong math component, so I am sticking with the MD.
 

axlf1997

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</font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by marq_bme:

Where are the places to apply for MR? the list i have so far include JHU, Duke, MCW, HST(harvard-mit), UCSD, WashU, Vandy, Pitt, NWU, Uchicago, UW-madison? </font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Uchicago is really starting to try to get Biophysics big. They've got an Instititute of Biophysical Dynamics that they're building a building for. There hope is to get the physics, chem and bio people all working together. Their biochem department is essentially Biochem + Biophysics.

HST is obviously good cuz they have so many resources, but my understanding is that they're mor e engineering and imaging oriented.
 

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Biophysics has several branches, and I don't know how gravitational waves (which essentially has to do with quantum field theory and general relativity) can directly connect to the field. However...

1) Protein folding and macromolecular structure and dynamics, which has traditionally been the dominant field in biophysics, requires a lot of similiar mathematics (i.e. basic analysis, diffeq). In specific, people are starting to use path integral from QFT approach in solving the protein folding problem

2) In neurophysiology, which can be roughly considered a intersection between biophysics and neuroscience, many of the same mathematics is used (the math for Zeeman's effect in quantum mechanics is used for predicting visual hallucination, for instance)

In general, biophysics has more to do with condensed matter physics (crystals, solids, fluids) than high energy physics or cosmology. However, if you are strong in hard physics, it's pretty easy to make the transition.
Reviving this thread from the dead...

I am interested in biophysics for MD/PhD work. I realize that in 12 years there must be more going on in the field, especially given how enthusiastic the physics head at my college was about how booming that area of research is becoming. I'm interested in neurology, endocrinology, and psychiatry and I'm going to be in a biochemistry lab next semester for research.

So my questions...
  1. Aside from anything in the quote above, what new sort of things are going on in the field of biophysics? I'd like to get a sense of what the field is like nowadays.
  2. Should I take quantum mechanics if I'm interested in the biophysics route? I asked three people (the physics head, the chemistry head, and the health careers advising director) and only the physics head thought it would be a good idea. I'm interested in it. What do you think?
Thanks for any input! :D
 
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Biophysics and BME major here, just my $0.02:

Biophysics is an EXTREMELY broad field, basically encompassing all areas of biological research that can be better understood from a physical and chemical point of view (both macro- and micro- scale). Your coursework and research in biophysics should be reflective of your own particular interests, whether it be macromolecular structure and dynamics, neuroscience, imaging, etc. If you want more info on some of the different fields in biophysics just let me know.

To answer your question about taking quantum, again it really depends on your own interests. The only fields in biological and medical research that I know of where a background in quantum would be useful would be imaging and molecular dynamics at the atomic scale. I used to work in a computational chemistry lab that mostly dealt with understanding charge transfer within DNA and proteins, how it helps describe how some proteins functions (likely a very small subset), and a few technology applications (apparently people are using DNA for things like nanowires...) Lots of quantum there. But not particularly many medical applications (I'm assuming since your an MD/PhD applicant you're looking for at least some translational aspect to your research, or else you'd probably just do a PhD). Can you tell me more about your particular research interests?

As an aside, biophysics has lots of overlap with BME, and lots of strong MD/PhD programs also have strong BME programs (not that many don't have strong biophysics programs as well). From majoring in both, I've found that BME is much more application-based, which probably makes it more easily tailored to an MD/PhD who is interested in more translational research. Whereas biophysics is really more about getting a better understanding of fundamental biological processes, which if you're really interested in basic science would probably be a good route. Then there's medical physics, which is all about imaging, which also overlaps with BME... So I would say if you're interested in "biophysics" I would suggest you also look into some BME or medical physics programs. If you want to see some of the cool things that are going on in these fields, check out the websites of some top university programs and look at what research different professors are doing. Some examples would be for BME: Johns Hopkins, Duke (my ugrad so I can tell you a lot about research here), GaTech, UCSD, Penn, MIT, WashU, UWash. For biophysics, a lot of departments are fairly new, but places like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT are bound to have some really cool research going on.

Hope this helps! :)
 
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sluox

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Reviving this thread from the dead...

I am interested in biophysics for MD/PhD work. I realize that in 12 years there must be more going on in the field, especially given how enthusiastic the physics head at my college was about how booming that area of research is becoming. I'm interested in neurology, endocrinology, and psychiatry and I'm going to be in a biochemistry lab next semester for research.

So my questions...
  1. Aside from anything in the quote above, what new sort of things are going on in the field of biophysics? I'd like to get a sense of what the field is like nowadays.
  2. Should I take quantum mechanics if I'm interested in the biophysics route? I asked three people (the physics head, the chemistry head, and the health careers advising director) and only the physics head thought it would be a good idea. I'm interested in it. What do you think?
Thanks for any input! :D
If you are a physics or math major, or in engineering, and have a decent command of mathematics and a reasonable background in physics, I think QM is a good course to take because knowing the magic of QM at least once provides a very interesting perspective on the rest of your life. I consider QM to be one of, if not THE, most important single intellectual discovery of mankind. Certain math in QM does recur in other contexts, such as integration of various probability density functions and linear algebra, so in that sense it's also useful.

With regard to biophysics, there are two main things that are considered "hot" at the moment in my opinion, though my personal research has shifted in 12 years from biophysics to theoretical neuroscience to now AI/machine learning/data science. Single molecular biophysics (i.e. Zhuang Xiaowei, Steve Chu) remains hot. The other hot one is optogenetics, both in neuroscience applications and in optical control of other cellular processes. I'm not sure if you want to pursue things that are "hot" though just because they are hot at the moment.
 
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