SAS1284

10+ Year Member
Sep 7, 2007
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Attending Physician
Hi, I was thinking about research opportunities and was interested in a few projects in both clinical and basic science research. I was wondering if there are any advantages/disadvantages with either one. Thanks
 

mercaptovizadeh

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Oct 16, 2004
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Hi, I was thinking about research opportunities and was interested in a few projects in both clinical and basic science research. I was wondering if there are any advantages/disadvantages with either one. Thanks
Clinical research is clearly closer to medicine, so that may be added motivation. Also, it is probably somewhat easier to get a publication.

Basic science has longer lead times to publication and is more distant from medicine. If you are interested in academic medicine, basic science is probably a bit more sought after.
 

themudphud

10+ Year Member
Nov 30, 2008
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MD/PhD Student
Three questions--
(1) how much time do you intend on spending on the research (and is it time off or while you are on the wards)
(2) have you chosen a field (or narrowed the choices down)? What is it?
(3) are you doing research because it will make you more competitive and/or do you have particular personal objectives/goals to reach with the research?

I've done both clinical and basic science research and watched a lot classmates do it as well. I think a lot of doing research during med school depends on your answers to these questions.
 
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SAS1284

10+ Year Member
Sep 7, 2007
30
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Attending Physician
Thanks for the insight.

1) how much time do you intend on spending on the research (and is it time off or while you are on the wards)

I was for sure considering doing research the summer after MS1, and if I research is worthwhile I would probably try continue during 2nd year. As far as 3rd year, I am not too sure yet. I would have to see how I am able to manage rotations with the research.

(2) have you chosen a field (or narrowed the choices down)? What is it?

As I am a first year, I entirely sure as to what field I would be interested in, but I do have a very strong interest in psychiatry.


(3) are you doing research because it will make you more competitive and/or do you have particular personal objectives/goals to reach with the research?

There are a few reasons behind why I would like to pursue research. First, I have done research in the past and have really enjoyed it. I don't really want to be a full time researcher, but I would enjoy collaborating with other researchers when I can. Additionally, I am considering academic medicine I would like to do research to keep myself competitive in case I would like to pursue this later on down the road. As far as the goals go for the research, I would like to get published (hopefully as one of the top authors) and also build a mentor relationship with someone in psychiatry. I hope this helps!
 

Pinkertinkle

2003 Member
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Oct 16, 2003
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Attending Physician
Advantages
Clinical research:
-Easier to do, faster to finish
-Relevant to patients

Basic science:
-Higher impact
-Rarer, more valuable
-More interesting (IMO)

Disadvantages
Clinical:
-Boring, mostly paperwork.
-Case reports are a dime a dozen.

Basic science:
-Time consuming
-Lengthy experimentation can often result in zero useful data
 

themudphud

10+ Year Member
Nov 30, 2008
133
1
Status
MD/PhD Student
Thanks for the insight.

1) how much time do you intend on spending on the research (and is it time off or while you are on the wards)

I was for sure considering doing research the summer after MS1, and if I research is worthwhile I would probably try continue during 2nd year. As far as 3rd year, I am not too sure yet. I would have to see how I am able to manage rotations with the research.

(2) have you chosen a field (or narrowed the choices down)? What is it?

As I am a first year, I entirely sure as to what field I would be interested in, but I do have a very strong interest in psychiatry.


(3) are you doing research because it will make you more competitive and/or do you have particular personal objectives/goals to reach with the research?

There are a few reasons behind why I would like to pursue research. First, I have done research in the past and have really enjoyed it. I don't really want to be a full time researcher, but I would enjoy collaborating with other researchers when I can. Additionally, I am considering academic medicine I would like to do research to keep myself competitive in case I would like to pursue this later on down the road. As far as the goals go for the research, I would like to get published (hopefully as one of the top authors) and also build a mentor relationship with someone in psychiatry. I hope this helps!
Okay, based on what you have said above, I would recommend that you do clinical research. Reasons: (1) you are not planning on spending that much time--one summer is barely enough to learn a set of experimental techniques well--forget about doing basic science research (successfully) while in med school; (2) in some fields, doing basic science can really set you apart--not psychiatry (in my opinion); and (3) I think you can accomplish all of your research objectives doing clinical research.
The practical advantages of clinical research--(1) if you are proactive and choose the right mentor, you can get enough work done in one summer to write a halfway decent clinical manuscript as a first author. And while doing good, basic science is frankly unrealistic in the setting of med school courses and clerkships (at best detrimental to your med school education), writing a clinical manuscript is *very* doable during your clerkships--I've done it. THis is also important because your work (e.g. setting up a clinical database for your own project) may also be support (with the right mentor and right project) for future studies that you can also be an author on; (2) when it comes to research and being competitive for residency, I won't lie to you--basic science is more impressive. *BUT* clinical research with a first author publication is much better than basic science research without a publication. At the end of the day, if you can walk into a residency interview and give the smack down on a clinical subject that you are an expert on (and have published evidence of that expertise), you will be well sought after. Contrast that with someone who walks into an interview and can speak some generalities about the reseach subject matter, can say a few sentences about the techniques they learned and may be a sentence on the results they found (or didn't find). Who would you be more impressed with?
If you ultimately decide on taking a year off for research, consider basic science because with the right choice of mentor and project, you could accomplish something in a year.
Feel free to contact me with any other questions.
 

PeepshowJohnny

10+ Year Member
Jun 28, 2007
1,958
7
Earth
Status
Medical Student
Advantages
Clinical research:
-Easier to do, faster to finish
-Relevant to patients

Basic science:
-Higher impact
-Rarer, more valuable
-More interesting (IMO)

Disadvantages
Clinical:
-Boring, mostly paperwork.
-Case reports are a dime a dozen.

Basic science:
-Time consuming
-Lengthy experimentation can often result in zero useful data
I'm going to disagree with some of your "pros" for basic science. While it's true that some of this stuff really CAN be high impact and more valuable, a lot of it isn't. I've lost count of the number of people who I've meet through undergrad on who told me about how their research on Alzheimer's/ Spinal cord regeneration/ obesity biochemistry/ and every type of cancer was really "Cutting edge, it's amazing stuff".

And what came of it? Nothing as far as I can tell. I mean, it can look really promising when you discover that protein AKQ3, a signal transduction moleculre, is upregulated in 63% of the rat models of breast cancer, but that doesn't necessarilly mean anything until it's put into practice.

However, just as you said basic science research is more interesting in your opinion, I tend to find most of it dull until it's put into a clinical picture. And honestly, you'll find program directors tend to be of either your or my persuasion.

The best of both worlds may be looking into if you have a department which focuses on translational research. I know the NIH was starting to endorse these types of endeavors a few years back. Basically, it's type of experiments bringing the bench to the bedside, so you can talk about some groundbreaking new monoclonal antibody, but also present what it did in patients.