Basic or clinical research PhD for translational research goals?

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Jun 2, 2020
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I'm applying to MD-PhD programs. I'm primarily interested in translational research, but only a few programs offer PhDs in translational research. At others, I would have to choose between focusing on basic science or clinical research. Which should I choose at those programs based on my research goals?

My primary long-term goal is to design and test a combinatorial treatment protocol for a disease in N2a cells, or ideally organotypic murine hippocampal slices, then in a murine model, then in phase I-III randomized control trials, culminating in FDA approval one day, I hope. How should I go about preparing to give myself the best possible chance of getting funded to do this translational integrated preclinical and clinical research within the next 30 years?

Leading up to that, I would also like to more directly test a few more predictions of my two major hypotheses primarily in wet lab, preclinical cell models first.

I think I could be happy in either a mechanistic wet lab or a clinical research lab that would teach me techniques that would help me study my hypotheses at least after my training. Should I go for wet lab research now, since that's harder to get and harder to learn, I imagine, and because I need to do preclinical wet lab research first before the translational clinical research? And then layer learning clinical research skills on top of that at a later time? Or is doing the PhD in Clinical Research important in order to even have a chance of one day getting funding for phase I-III randomized control trials? How would you go about trying to set yourself up for success if you were me?
 
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Lucca

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Clinical research is not really the goal of most MSTPs. It’s relatively straightforward to retool for clinical research as an MD with or without a PhD. A PhD is better oriented for extensive computational or basic science.
 
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kepler16b

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Should I go for wet lab research now, since that's harder to get and harder to learn, I imagine, and because I need to do preclinical wet lab research first before the translational clinical research? And then layer learning clinical research skills on top of that at a later time?

This is the better approach.
 
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biobukowski

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This is the better approach.

“This is the way”

Joke aside, I admire your enthusiasm, even if going from hippocampal slices to human monkeys is a large jump for anyone.

PhD is a time to learn how to design and execute an entire grant idea. You’ll get to your own idea when you are 2-3 years into your residency, which is 11 years from your MD/PhD start. You think it won’t be outdated by then?

Don’t listen to me though. MSTPs love grit, productivity and vision.
 
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