The Newsletter for Research Professionals: October 2011
Medical research is as much about discovering what the needs of humanity are as it is about finding cures for known illness. The challenge for the exemplary research professional is to find relevant research paths and to embark on a course that will have potential ramifications for change and further discovery. The depth and breadth of the field is vast but biomedical research is probably the most prevalent of these and the broadest in scope. Of all jobs posted on ResearchNetwork.com biomedical research along with market research arguably enjoy the most job postings.
Biomedical research facilities employ scientists in the fields of cellular immunology, infectious disease, immune models of human disease, the development of immune system-based therapies and vaccines, and medical research discoveries that provide tangible health benefits to individuals and the community. Included within the scope of biomedical research is an essential clinical component wherein a drug treatment or therapy developed in the laboratory is tested prior to being prescribed by doctors.
This is slightly different from a clinical research study and also from an observational study. Observational studies can be fascinating but they are also interesting in that a researcher may be part of a research trial which they will never see the final results of in their lifetime. One such trial was the Framingham Heart Study. From 1948 researchers followed four generations of family members in Framingham, Massachusetts, to see what had negative or positive impacts on the condition of their hearts. Some of the key findings of that study were that high blood pressure, high-fat diets, and smoking are not good for the heart. Researchers who began on the project did not necessarily get to see the final results of their research findings.
Also in the field of medical research are areas of preventative medicine and community health which offer the medical researcher great skills crossover and diversity. These include disease prevention and control, nutrition, fitness and health and a gambit of other fields. Each of these is becoming increasingly important in medical research as obesity epidemics and vaccine resistant epidemics become prevalent.
Some of the discoveries in these fields are quite spectacular. An example are recent fat studies which actually show that one can fight fat with fat. Researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) discovered that orexin, a hormone produced in the brain, activates calorie-burning brown fat in mice. Incredibly researchers discovered that, "Without orexin, mice are permanently programmed to be obese. With it, brown fat is activated and they burn more calories." One of the researchers, Dr. Sikder went on to say, "We're now taking the next steps in determining how orexin -- or a chemical that has the same effect -- might be used in humans to therapeutically prevent or treat obesity."
Although these types of research don’t receive as much press as say, stem cell or cancer research studies, they also significantly impact the quality of life for many people. Medical research is full of such fascinating and life altering examples. As such the field of medical research is both lucrative and diverse.
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
Choosing a Research Topic
Choosing a research path is often the most challenging aspect of a research manager’s job. While addressing a practical problem in the field is often an obvious choice there are frequent occasions when the underlying problems are the less obvious but appropriate path for the researcher to embark upon. Requests for proposals (RFP) are one course a researcher can take to establish required research within their field. Typically RFPs describe some problem that an organisation would like researchers to address. Typically a RFP describes a problem or need that requires research. Usually it will be quite specific and as such it takes significant guess work away from a research avenue and presents a clear opportunity.
"The whole secret of life is to be interested in one thing profoundly and in a thousand things well.” Horace Wallpole
Top Tips for Careers in Medical Research
The key to acquiring a job in medical research is to be out there. The field, particularly in some niche areas, is fiercely competitive. Ensure employers know you are available by maintaining a current and professional online CV. Many employers never advertise but rather search databases for good candidates whom they invite to apply. Networking is critical to a contemporary job search strategy and online networking is fast becoming the norm. ResearchNetwork exists to facilitate networking and a presence among other research professionals and employers.
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To all of our members and guests, we welcome you and thank you for your ongoing interest. We hope you have enjoyed the information provided here. We would love to hear your thoughts on this and any other aspect of our site, please contact us anytime.