Doctorate in Biological Sciences

Science is continuing to evolve at a breakneck pace. Five hundred years ago, we believed that the earth was flat. Only a century ago, we were unaware of the outer planets orbiting our solar system.

So, it only makes sense that the notion of manipulating stem cells for the greater good of humanity would have appeared all but fictional to a student only a few decades ago. Nonetheless, this area of biology is one of the most important disciplines in existence and the amount of progress that we have witnessed truly boggles the mind. So, you may find that you wish to become involved within this burgeoning field of study. How will you approach such a programme and more importantly, what can you expect to encounter in the real world once you have obtained your doctorate? Let’s take a closer look at both of these questions.

Stem Cells 101: Climbing the Ladder

To pursue your doctorate in stem cell research, you will first need a solid base in life sciences. Normally, you will begin with general education courses that focus on chemistry and biology. As you become more specified, it is likely that you will also need to branch off into engineering and even some higher maths. These will both be essential in helping you understand the complicated processes that are involved with stem cells(1). Of course, you will never be able to learn such details overnight. Your studies will normally involve at least a four-year programme at a respected university before moving on to your doctorate.

Masters and Beyond

The next step will be the opportunity to pursue a more discrete field. In this case, let’s take the example of stem cell research in relation to genetic abnormalities. By narrowing your focus (as most doctoral students do), you will be able to develop an innate understanding of what you are interested in. Generally, this will involve a great deal of in-house research and even an internship with cutting-edge companies such as Biolamina. Not only will you be able to build contacts in the field, but you will also gain invaluable real-life experience that can help you enormously once you attain your doctorate.

Choosing the University for Your Doctorate

You may decide to pursue this degree at an entirely different university. This could actually be a good idea depending upon the school you choose. Of course, the most important factor to consider is how respected the university is regarding biological sciences and stem cell research. Once this is established, factors such as cost, scholarships, loans and grants must be addressed. It is also a good idea to speak with individuals that are already in the field to determine which institutions they believe will provide you with the most preparation and training.

After Graduation

You should expect to be immersed into one of the most revolutionary disciplines in the world. If you enjoy constant progression, stem cell research is certainly for you. Possessing a doctorate in this field enables you to experience a truly “hands-on” position in revolutionising the way modern medicine is viewed. As an example, many researchers now believe that they can heal the human heart through stem cell transplantation(2)! However, you are also quite lucky due to the fact that much of this research is still in its infancy; getting in on the proverbial “ground floor” can provide you with a very real opportunity to change the face of biological sciences in the near future.

Never forget that achieving a doctorate in stem cell research is no easy task. It will take years of commitment and discipline. Still, the rewards will undoubtedly far outweigh the sacrifices that will have to be made. In a very real manner, the future is in your hands!

References:

1. http://www.stemcells.cam.ac.uk/news-events/events/sciencefestival2014chalut
2. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-26273707.