career in alzheimers research??

I’m currently studying biotechnology in general, but after seeing a relative with alzheimers, i’ve decided that i want to focus my career on researching the disease. So my question is what i should be studying to prepare myself for a career in that area. my original plan was to get a B.S. in biotech, then do my grad work in molecular biology. I still don’t know too much about the disease itself since this all just occurred to me yesterday. What type of degrees would be more relevant to this area?

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3 Responses to “career in alzheimers research??”

  • NotAnyoneYouKnow:

    The researchers investigating Alzheimer’s disease are approaching the challenge of treatment and cure from a wide range of approaches – some study the underlying physiology of the disease (biochemistry), others study the epidemiology (public health issues), others study the effects of the disease on its victims and their caregivers (psychology), some study the genetic factors that underly the disease, etc., etc.

    What this means, of course, is that researchers come from all different kinds of backgrounds. If you are interested in contributing to the research, you should pursue the educational course that most interests you.

    Possibilities include: pathology, neurology, neuroscience, particularly neuropathology, cognitive psychology, epidemiology, psychiatry, nursing, biostatistics, data management, geriatric medicine, genetics – you can see that the investigation is so multi-faceted that researchers come from a wide range of fields.

    If you are interested in making alzheimer’s research your life’s work, you should focus on identifying graduate programs that are engaged in active research into the disease. Graduate study is a research program, and you’ll want to work under a mentor who is doing advanced, cutting-edge research. That will give you the training to make your own contributions, and will get you the introductions that you will need to find good employment opportunities when you graduate.

    One of the best-known national Alzheimer’s research programs is offered at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore – you probably know that school as one of the most highly competitive and academically rigorous programs in the country. I’ve linked to their website (below) – I think you’ll find that a visit to the site can answer a lot of your questions.

    As you consider various graduate programs, contact the biology departments and ask about faculty members who might be working in alzheimer’s research or at least in closely related areas. Do some online research to see if you can find scholarly articles on the latest investigations, and make a note of where those professors and other researchers are working. This will help you identify some of the places that you should focus your applications.

    Good luck to you – I hope that you have the opportunity to directly contribute to a cure for this awful disease.

  • cerebralmike:

    Well, usually for science research, undergrad degrees aren’t too important- you need one, but they aren’t too important. Alz. is neurobio, path, genetics, and neuroimmun.- so degrees in or including those subjects help.
    The big decision is on graduate school. Whether you want to go to masters, PhD, or both, you NEED to do work on alz. to be taken seriously.
    I’d probably switch my degree to neurobio.-if you school offers it, if not you can stay or go to human biology-focusing on the human which bipasses animals and plants.

  • Dorothy K:

    Your plan would work just fine to get you into that kind of research area. Now a day Alzheimer’s Research is being done as a multi-discipline approach- you have the biological- molecular/cellular level research, the cognitive neuroscience research, the behavioral neuroscience research and so on. It depends on what you really want to look at in this area. Are you more concerned with how the cells function in specific parts of the brain? That would be more molecular/cellular biology. Are you interested in the cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer’s? That is more cognitive neuroscience. Are you trying to understand how changes in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients causes behavior differences? That is more behavioral neuroscience. You can do just about anything psychology, neuroscience, and biology related and still be able to do this kind of research!

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