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Research scope

Discussion in 'Pathology' started by McDremy, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. McDremy

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    Hello all
    I am kind of confused with which field to opt for my residency.. I am an IMG aspiring research alongside my career .. My interests are in IM, neuro and patho. My dream is to do some research in some basic science like stem cell culture, cancer biology (like the BCR-ABL, PML-RARA) rather than the case control studies. Does pathology offer me scope for the former kind of research?
    Some people i consulted told me to go for IM as it offers diagnostic skills plus theory knowledge (as though IM=Patho+diagnostic skills). As far as i get from the Patho i am used to in my country, pathologists dont do any thing more than making diagnoses looking at the slides.. I mean, much of useful research.. and that's mainly due to the lack of facilities. It would be kind if anyone could tell me what are our research scopes if we start our residency as pathologists at US and the kind of research we do..
    Thanks a lot
    Mc :)
     
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  3. mlw03

    mlw03 Senior Member
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    Plenty of pathologists have careers that involve basic science research and diagnostic pathology. If that is a goal of yours, an academic based career is quite possible. That said, academic life is not easy and if you don't get the grant money to fund your research career, you won't be given the time off-service to pursue the research. From what I sw in residency, it's a catch-22. Without academic productivity, you have to do service work to pay the bills, but with all the service duties, you don't have time to be academically productive. and that's part of why i'm not pursuing an academic career.
     
  4. Enkidu

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    If you want to do basic science research, it doesn't really matter which clinical field you go into. You're still going to have to do a research post-doc in order to become competitive for grants. Plenty of IM docs do basic science research in molecular biology, along with neurologists, and pathologists.

    Traditionally pathology has been a place for research minded physicians to go because pathology is both the basic science that studies disease and the clinical science that diagnoses and analyzes disease. A lot of people who are interested in science also tend to have a more analytic mindset that is well suited to pathology.

    As far as the type of basic research that a pathologic would do as opposed to an internist, it's also not clear-cut. If your image of a physician scientist involves making observations in your clinical practice which you can then investigate in the lab, then obviously what you see in your clinical practice will have a huge impact on what you do in the lab. If you are primarily concerned with cancer biology, then you can approach this from heme/onc or neuro-onc as well as from pathology.

    My suggestion is that if you are primarily interested in the long-term management of chronic disease, and you want your research to follow in this vein, then IM or neurology are good options. If you are primarily interested in the diagnosis and analysis of disease, and not thrilled about management, then pathology would be a better choice, but there are plenty of cases where pathologists work on developing cancer treatments and oncologists study microRNA expression patterns... so there are no hard-and-fast rules.
     
  5. McDremy

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    Thank you mlw and enkidu,
    So in short, which field you opt is not important for doing research and things are quite flexible, rite?
    I'd always known that the peers and the professors you work with determine your progress a lot as far as research is concerned. So wont pathology be a better option to get into a research oriented group or a group that takes research as a more serious business?

    Isnt it possible to pursue a research career working as a diagnostic pathologist in universities rather than being academic?

    "A lot of people who are interested in science also tend to have a more analytic mindset that is well suited to pathology."
    I'm sorry but i have a doubt in this. What kind of analysis did you mean in this statement that is standing apart from the other two fields?

    I also got a feeling from the above posts that approaching my fields of interest as a pathologists rather than an internist or a neurologist is more risky. Is that implied?

    Thanks a lot
    Mc
     
  6. Enkidu

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    I'm not sure I understand this question. I was understanding that you wanted to be a basic research-oriented physician-scientist at a university. You won't have luck applying to private practices if you want to run a basic science research lab.

    What I'm saying is that basic science attracts more analytic people, and pathology is the most analytic field of medicine. Internal medicine and neurology certainly have an analytic component, but the largest portion of their time is spent in long-term management of chronic disease.

    Not at all. I think pathologists are better suited to do basic science research for a number of reasons, and historically this has lead to pathology having the highest proportion of MD/PhDs entering the field (until radiation oncology got popular, but I think that's more about the lifestyle than the research). Regardless, wanting to do basic science research is a bad reason to choose pathology. If you really like clinical neurology, then do that. If you prefer oncology, then do that.

    Pathology has a more natural connection with basic science, and it naturally has a bit more of a scholarly quality to it, but simply being a pathologist isn't going to help you get a grant any more than being in any other specialty... so my suggestion is to specialize in whatever field interests you, and then embark on your research career with a post-doc and see where it leads you.
     
  7. McDremy

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    Thanks a lot Enkidu..
    I am coming from a country where IM is valued the most as most of the people rely solely on it to make the diagnoses of their diseases. So can i make a clarification.. I have heard that pathologist do a lot more diagnostic works in US than in my country, but it still is confined to the slides and the gross specimens is'nt it? Do they get the history of the patients from which those are collected and the lab values to make an inference on that?
    Mc
     
  8. Enkidu

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    I'm going to defer to a pathologist on this one. My expertise is not in the practice of pathology, but I do know a bit about planning a research career in medicine. IM, neuro, and pathology will all provide a strong background for a research career, so pick what you like.
     
  9. BU Pathology

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    The field of medicine you choose does not preclude you from doing research. There are more internal medicine physicians which means that there are more internal medicine physician scientists than pathology physician scientists.

    Certain fields can provide more help in planning a research career. If you are doing trauma research, and you are a trauma surgeon, then you will know the clinical literature which can be used to buttress your grant application.
     
  10. pathstudent

    pathstudent Sound Kapital
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    Very true. I know many surgeons that do basic science type research. Ive worked with some ent-onc surgeons that see patients, do big time head and neck onc surgery and do research into the pathogenesis of scc in the head neck.
     

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