Interested in aging prevention, helpful to go for MSTP or just stick with a PhD?

Jul 25, 2009
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I'm an undergrad right now. My personal research interests are in prevention/halting of the aging process, and degenerative diseases. Would going for an MD/PhD be at all helpful in this pursuit, over just a PhD in biomedical engineering/sciences? If at all possible, please don't take the rigor of MSTP programs or how hard it is to gain acceptance into account--I'm just curious as to whether there is any true academic benefit to be gained through an MD for this particular area of research. The thing is, I really like and appreciate the idea of translational research--however, I'm not sure if it would be an effective technique for my research when working with such broad goals that will probably take place over a longer time period. Thanks for any and all advice!
 
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Jul 7, 2009
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knowledge is always useful, and it's nice to know and see the changes that occur with aging, but you don't have to have an md to gain that. ultimately you have to work on a specific problem -- e.g., dna damage, cell senescence, amyloid, arthritis, alzheimer's, osteoporosis, etc. -- rather than aging in general. how do you want to approach it -- from cell or mouse systems, from treating geriatric patients, a hybrid? do you really want to go through 4 years of medical school? 3-6 years of residency? a postdoc? how do you see your practice or schedule working out? do you want to do a day a week or two months a year or see patients in the morning and be in the lab in the afternoon? will you be as good a researcher as a phd or as good a clinician as an md? i don't regret my decision in any way whatsoever, but md/phd isn't for everybody ... if it were up to me i'd make the way these programs work faster and more flexible, but that's not how it currently is ...
 

pseudoknot

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ultimately you have to work on a specific problem -- e.g., dna damage, cell senescence, amyloid, arthritis, alzheimer's, osteoporosis, etc. -- rather than aging in general.
This is absolutely not true, and there are a number of labs that are looking at aging as a global, systemic phenomenon rather than downstream effects as you suggest. I'm sure the OP is aware of this already.

I do mostly agree with the rest of your post, as far as thinking about the balance between clinical and research duties.

FWIW, I'm not aware of any MD/PhDs who work in aging, although they probably exist.