If i were to want to work in the stem cell research field

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Discus: College Search and Selection: August 2004 Archive: If i were to want to work in the stem cell research field
By Benndamann33 (Benndamann33) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 12:28 am: Edit

If i wanted to do stem cell research...what would i major in?

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 12:32 am: Edit

Bioengineering most probably. Great field, article in my local paper yesterday talking about the millions that venture capitalists have poured into getting an initiative in CA passed in support. Take a look at UCSD if this is your field of interest, it will be the place to be.

By Benndamann33 (Benndamann33) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 12:36 am: Edit

yeah everyone says UCSD is the palce to be, I just don't think I can fly all the way across the country to attend college, as much as I may like to

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 12:47 am: Edit

I'm sure there are good programs in other places and I don't know your circumstances, but if you want to pursue this field the key places are going to be on the W. Coast for now, San Diego and Silicon Valley although New Jersey may remain a key area too. But You'll need to be open for the best jobs so consider being flexible now! My 14 year old is about to leave for high school across the country and she's a piker compared to her classmates coming from other continents--it's a global world!

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 12:49 am: Edit

Look at Wisconsin.

By Benndamann33 (Benndamann33) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 12:54 am: Edit

I live in pennsylvania, basic stats:
780 math
710 verbal

780 math IC
700 chemistry
690 writing (yeah, i suck at writing)

third out of 270 in class
4.5 gpa
So I live in pennsylvania, not sure if parents would even consider allowing me to go to UCSD...it'd be expensive to come back and forth! The price of the school is reasonable though. Anyway, any more suggested schools...and Dstark...you talking Wisconsin - madison? And is bioengineering the same as biomedical engineering - sorry for the ignorance

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 12:59 am: Edit

With those stats you need to convince your parents to let you loose!!!

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 12:59 am: Edit

Yes. Madison, I believe it has more patents than any other school in this field. UCSD is great as is Berkeley and Harvard (Although this might just be for grad school). I am sure there are others since this is one of the hottest things going. It will be even bigger if Bush loses. With those stats, you will get into many places.

By Benndamann33 (Benndamann33) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 01:02 am: Edit

i know, the whole bush thing pains me...
thanks for your help though

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 01:05 am: Edit

There is another current thread with rankings, so take a look. UCSD wasn't top, and I'm not an overall fan of UCs, but in this area I'm blown away by the connections they have with industry and the fact they they are one with venture capitalists in creating companies in San Diego, which will soon easily be the capita; of biotech. Your job prospects from UCSD will be amazing. Take your parents through this slowly....you have the stats to do very well in this field. They can retire in abject luxury in sunny San Diego, 75 degrees year round, when you hit it big!

By Kousuke (Kousuke) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 01:12 am: Edit

for biomed. go to either Duke or Johns Hopkins.
id say you have good enough stats for those schools, just depends on your ECs and your essays. also doing ED to one of them wont hurt, duke is a reach for everyone, as is JHU bio-med. or you can go to cali. like everyone else is saying.

By Benndamann33 (Benndamann33) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 09:21 am: Edit

Back to the original question though: if you major in biomedical engineering...is stem cell research a career you could persue

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 09:37 am: Edit

Most of the big players in stem cell research that I know, started out as science majors or premeds. Many went to medical school. Some did go straight academic with PHDs in fields like microbiology, biochem--really nearly anything within a bio type realm as there are many different roles and tacts to go into with this field. Many are practicing physician, head of their departments--Dr Kurt Civen, a big name in the field, is the head of Hopkins' pediatric oncology department, Dr Joe Mirro, is the chief medical officer at St Judes. Some have combined MD/Phds. But if you want to take the first step, I would go into the natural sciences.

Ironically, I know some who are in the field welcomed with the most open arms are Math sciences or Stats majors. They are needed too. The kids I know who went into the field that way, only took the core premed courses with a few research projects with key people in junior year. There is really is no one route, other than a bio background and doing some research as you get further into college.

By Shennie (Shennie) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 12:57 pm: Edit

The guy who first was able to grow stem cells is at UW-Madison. Very hot program there now.

By Massdad (Massdad) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 04:08 pm: Edit

Time out, folks.

Stem cell research is part of molecular biology, NOT bioengineering. Further, the target is already moving away from stem cells per se, to the application of stem cell technology.

So, you wanna work with stem cells? Then get an undergrad degree in a good science and head to grad school in an area that can make use of the technology.

Mom101, you may know investment banking, but you do not know stem cell science. The science is widespread, but badly confounded by the Bush moratorium on fetal stem cell research. Wisconsin's claim to fame is that the developer of most of the federally approved fetal derived lines was at U. Wisc, who licensed most of the rights to Wicell anyway.

Truth is that much of the best research is moving outside the US, to avoid the restrictions and scientifically hostile atmosphere. And, a few institutions are putting up facilities with no federal dollars to derive better lines than what Wisconsin did. Check out the work of Doug Melton's lab at Harvard, for instance.

San Diego where the action is for stem cells? I don't think so...

By Sokkermom (Sokkermom) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 04:22 pm: Edit

I am not sure that everyone is going in to a field like stem cell research to "hit it big" so they can bask in the lap of luxury.

There may be students interested in this field because they have siblings or relatives with chronic diseases (such as juvenile diabetes or Parkinson's) that could benefit greatly from work in this field in the near future. These students are entering a field like this because of something much more important to them than money.

By Benndamann33 (Benndamann33) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 04:57 pm: Edit

I am not going into the career because of money, i can't imagine doing a job i don't feel strongly about, and this job I would feel like I was really doing something. I think it sounds like it has so much potential. Massdad, i appreciate your points, but still I would like to know what your suggestions are. Would a school like rose-hulman be a good undergraduate school - a strong science school?

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 05:03 pm: Edit

Massdad, I watch this closely as I am a Type I diabetic. Indeed otheer countries are ahead because of politics here. However, the venture capital community in th US, among others, is lobbying hard to change this. I think it will happen soon in places like CA where there is an iniative in November's election.

Sokkermom, my thinking is that many people following their heart and passion in this area will become the next wave of the suddenly wealthy. And they will deserve it.

By Sokkermom (Sokkermom) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 06:19 pm: Edit

Mom 101:

I have a 12 year old daughter who was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 6. Her dream has always been to become a professional soccer player. Just recently she mentioned that she may want to pursue a career in the medical field. When I asked her why, her response was so that she could treat kids with diabetes and other chronic illnesses the way she would like to be treated. She also mentioned that she wants to find a cure for other kids. She currently goes to the Joslin Center in Boston (four times/year), and is very proud that she has participated in some research for them over the past few years. She actually wrote a story last year about how she was a "laboratory rat" for a study they did on ketones. Indeed, if she does pursue a career in medicine (or soccer for that matter), it will not be because of the money!

By Massdad (Massdad) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 07:06 pm: Edit

Mom101, the VC community is alive and well in places other than San Diego. Yes, San Diego is a nice place and has had some good successes in biotech. UCSD and Scripps are not bad places. But S.D is far from the only place with these ingredients. And California is not the only state considering legislation to facilitate fetal stem cell research within a state, either.

I should add that top researchers in fields like this are not even motivated by wealth. As a result, they rarely make the compromises necessary to achieve it. But they are just as happy.

Back to Bendamann33:

Most schools will offer you a satisfactory science background. However, if you are really serious about exploring this field, you probably want to consider attending a major research university, especially one with a medical school close by, as these places are most likely to have stem cell research programs. You might even be able to work in such a lab as an undergrad. If you want a list of colleges with co-located med schools, let me know.

By Benndamann33 (Benndamann33) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 08:32 pm: Edit

that list would be great

By Goodchocolate (Goodchocolate) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 08:45 pm: Edit

Think very carefully before going into this field.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 08:54 pm: Edit

Massdad, there are actually relatively few VCs in San Diego. My point is that I've been incerdibly impressed by the partnerships UCSD had made with industry; it's rare in my experience. The depth of the investment is impressive, and I think many companies that make a real difference will come out of the strategy. People like me who have a vested interest know that such partnerships are the key to curing many diseases. Tiny Canada (population wise), with limited resources, is far ahead of us. This shouldn't be the case.

Sokkermom, I didn't become a juvinile diabetic until I was an adult! I marvel at how brave one would have to be to lead a normal life confronting this as a child. Kids who live with this and thrive will do incredible things in their lives!!

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 09:06 pm: Edit

Massdad and others, the unfortunate reality is that the pursuit of money will lead to the greatest advancements in curing disease. Industry will lead the way, governments simply don't have the funds to do so. And industry decisions are quite simply monetary.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 10:04 pm: Edit

Sokkermom, I'm curious to know if you live in the Boston Area or if you've determined that Joslin has special things to offer.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 10:11 pm: Edit

I sure am not going to encourage anyone to move to the biotech mecca that the south Lake union area is becoming. My house taxes are high enough.
I did see that New Jersey and Ca are looking for ways to fund stem cell research.

By Massdad (Massdad) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 10:18 pm: Edit

Mom101, UCSD is one of many universities that has forged effective ties with industry. Do you think us academics don't know that the most common effect way to treat disease is through products commerialized by industry? Most major universities have entire departments focused on technology transfer and development. If you want to see institutions that have effectively fostered close ties, take a look at Yale or Baylor College of Medicine, or MIT.

Bendaman, unis that have med schools close, and should offer good undergrad research opportunities (from west to east):

U. Wash
U. Utah
U. Minn
U. Mich
Ohio State
U. Wisconsin
U. Pittsburgh
U. Chicago
U. Rochester

I'm sure there are more.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 10:28 pm: Edit

Massdad, I am totally in favor of every State and every school going forward full force. May the best man win and find the cure for the many of us waiting! But I do think CA has a strong possiblity of leading the way as does the author of the article Emeraldkity supplied the link to above.

By Sokkermom (Sokkermom) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 08:45 am: Edit

We live about an hour from Boston. Joslin has a good program for kids and families. We still frequently visit our local pediatrician, but feel more confident with the diabetes management expertise and oversight provided by the Joslin staff. We have been going there for the past six years.

By Sokkermom (Sokkermom) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 10:27 am: Edit

For the benefit of the original poster, the Joslin Diabetes Center is an Affiliate of Harvard Medical School. They are doing a lot of work in stem cell reasearch. You can find out a lot about ongoing research by going to the Joslin web site. (www.joslin.org)

You can also find out about current stem cell research (as it relates to diabetes) by going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Web site. They provide an update and listing of various activities at various institutions around the world.


By Massdad (Massdad) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 12:32 pm: Edit

"May the best man win and find the cure for the many of us waiting! But I do think CA has a strong possiblity of leading the way as does the author of the article Emeraldkity supplied the link to above."

Funny, I never thought of research, innovation and the betterment of health as a competition. Maybe that's why we seem to be looking at the situation so differently.

No, the world of science, and much of the world of innovation is based on sharing information and collaboration. In Biotech, it is not unusual for the founding science and key members of the Scientific Advisory Board to be from the opposite coast, or, heaven forbid, from the vast, unknown interior of our country - foreign lands like Michigan! Often the research continues in multiple locations. Who gets to count the "win" in these cases?

Thanks, Mom101, for another reminder of the difference between the academic world and the world of finance.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 12:51 pm: Edit

Didn't the genome project stir some controversy about who would "own" the information? Also read some interesting and disturbing things lately about the Imclone cancer drug that questions the value because it only extended life rather than cure the disease.

By Sokkermom (Sokkermom) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 01:15 pm: Edit

It is unfortunate, but maybe the OP needs to major in politics in order to make progress in this field!

Here is a quote from an article in yesterday's Washington Dispatch:

"Perhaps this stem cell issue is the worst example by this Administration of the danger of ignoring progress for ideological reasons. America has lead the world often in advances on all scientific fronts, but as of now others overseas are pursuing stem cell research unfettered by ideological government deterrents."

By Massdad (Massdad) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 01:19 pm: Edit


The genome project stirred controversy primarily due to tension between companies who were doing some of the work, on the one side, NIH, who was paying for the work in the middle, and academe on the other side. The discussion was compounded by the inexperience at the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) regarding what would be patentable (also how and when). Until the PTO tightened up its standards, there was a gold rush mentality ongoing to stake claims in every part of the human genome, based on sketchy, preliminary genomics work. The fear was that this would block further developments that might cure disease. The debate ended when: (1) the PTO decided you needed to show full gene identity AND real utility in order to get a patent and (2) when scientists found out that genes were no more than one small step toward understanding and curing disease.

Imclone is a completely different issue. Background: Because of the universal agreement in our country on the importance of cancer cures, the FDA is willing to accept, as proof of efficacy in a clinical trial, extension of life of terminally ill patients. Experience has shown that, in most cases, some patients treated with earlier disease, will go into long term remission with these same drugs.

The Imclone controversy is really about how much drug companies should be charging for a treatment, especially one that needs to be administered chronically to maintain remission, rather that an acute, short term drug course for a cure. Imclone priced their drug such that a year of therapy will be over $100,000, quite agressive pricing. This raised the obvious question regarding how expensive is too expensive? The discussion of "cost of life extension" is a red herring, IMHO, ducking the real issue.

We should be asking if we can continue to be able to afford biotech "winners", since we all pay for those winners, directly or indirectly. And please, don't feed me the pharma industry line that we need these high prices to afford research etc. Drug companies spend more on sales and marketing than research as it is.

By Sokkermom (Sokkermom) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 01:27 pm: Edit

More Politics than science!


By Mom101 (Mom101) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 02:08 pm: Edit

My first job out of college was with a consulting firm that had many pharmeceutical companies for clients. Among things I was assigned to do: travel the country with an MD who had headed the AMA to promote a me too drug that was about to go off patent, promote drugs in clinical trials carefully with FDA rules posted on my desk because it was basically illegeal to do so....The dollars were huge and it was ugly. I was actually made to memorize a face book of FDA officials who may have put me to the test at medical conferences and trade shows before I got the sense to move on...

By Benndamann33 (Benndamann33) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 01:11 pm: Edit

well then thanks for your input, i think I'll just stick to biomed, probably favoring case western right now.

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