non-cancer related PhD for heme-onc or rad-onc matching

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angrygunner

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My research interest is in human genetics/genomics. I was thinking about joining a genomics lab (deep sequencing for complex GI disease - celiac, ulcerative colitis, etc). However I know for a fact I don't want to specialize in GI, I'm actually interested in oncology. There aren't any cancer genomics labs with mentors that are good for me though (chill person, motivated to get you out of the lab as soon as possible, etc).

I can either join this lab or do another rotation and try to find a lab that does cancer-related research, but I think I can hit a couple home runs in this lab and graduate in 2-3 years since I already have previous expeirence with this type of research..will this make any difference?

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My research interest is in human genetics/genomics. I was thinking about joining a genomics lab (deep sequencing for complex GI disease - celiac, ulcerative colitis, etc). However I know for a fact I don't want to specialize in GI, I'm actually interested in oncology. There aren't any cancer genomics labs with mentors that are good for me though (chill person, motivated to get you out of the lab as soon as possible, etc).

I can either join this lab or do another rotation and try to find a lab that does cancer-related research, but I think I can hit a couple home runs in this lab and graduate in 2-3 years since I already have previous expeirence with this type of research..will this make any difference?

It's more important that you like the research and be able to talk intelligently about it when the time comes than that it be specifically related to the work you (think) you want to do 5 or 6 years from now. The point of the PhD is to learn how to be a scientist, not necessarily to pick the field you're going to spend your career in.

I had colleagues in my MD/PhD program who did things like:
Molecular Neuroscience --> Derm
Immunology --> Ophto
Neurophysiology --> Rads

My oncology fellowship program recruited the crap out of a kid who did cardiology research in his PhD, but had 4 1st author papers in journals like Circulation, Nature Cell Bio and Molecular Cell.
 
I always advocate to do your PhD in your area of residency interest. I think it is helpful to build connections in your field and establish research that you can continue in the future. However, that's not always possible or feasible. It's more important to obtain a high step 1 score, do well on clerkships (AOA is helpful), and doing a decent PhD with first author publications (either a high profile or several not so high profile) no matter what the basic science topic.
 
Do your phd in something you would be willing to talk about ad nauseum. Banging out a couple of publications will not motivate you to do the type of quality work in the short amount of time you have.

In my experience, the medical world is much more interested in the skill set I gained during my PhD, particularly when it comes to doing clinical and translational research. No one cares about my molecular cloning skills. On this note, keep in mind that your laboratory skill, even with deep sequencing, set may be outdated by the time you get into fellowship and can do meaningful research again.
 
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