future and career - (May/15/2014 )
All these years all geniuses all bioforum has given me great solutions to my problems and advice that has worked so am here with yet another question which is more of a long term decision question and I need your expert opinion or somebody’s contact who may be able to help. I have finished my bachelors & masters in biology and tried to get a PhD which i failed to for over an year and realised that it is because i have hardly any technical experience following which i started learning techniques by voluntary work and eventually started working as a research technician in an academic lab. In this time I have come to gain an addictive taste for experimental work with some expertise on few techniques. Now i have quite good technical background that i can get a PhD offer and have some almost final offer to do PhD in an academic lab. But in this time i have realised few things. I wanted to get into science because i wanted to do something that will have an impact, but i soon found that most academicians are driven by fierce passion to study what they are studying and hardly have any perspective for applied impact. All the work from academic ends up as a published paper, a great result that you hope may be used by someone or someone builds upon this science. Even though i celebrate an accepted paper and appreciate all the hardwork behind it, it bothers me that it just happens to be a published result. I wish to work in applied sciences, possibly diagnostic technologies although all the applied sciences look very attractive to me. I know even here the case might be that your result is still a published result but its far closer to an application. And may be based on that training someday , I would like to set up my little company that shall produce technology that would even subtly impact lives. But i have no idea how to walk this path and how to get there? What are the problems in applied sciences, what can be done and what can not? what are issues in setting up a company or selling? Should I take up an academic Phd position if offered anyways? should i look for applied sciences PhD, are there any? I have a molecular biology background but have great aptitude for physics and some good training in chemistry and if I am to paint an ideal picture, I would like to work on something that is mainly 50% biological (possibly rna based) alongwith some 30% chemistry and 20% Physics and working towards producing a technology that could be useful in disease diagnosis (hopefully usefully applicable in rural areas so it be cheap and miniaturised and /or also profitable high end technical diagnostics) in an industry/academic setting while I will be learning skills that might help me do the same work independently eventually. But anything close will do to start. Please advise or direct in the direction where I can get the right advice. I know you are busy people so Thanks a lot for reading through all this and really appreciate your help.
There certainly are applied fields for doing PhDs - often these are sponsored by companies for the research costs and/or scholarship and stipend, it is just a matter of finding the right project and supervisor. Bio-engineering is one of these fields. There are also many many people trying to develop new drug delivery systems (e.g. virus-like particles, lipospheres etc.), which are relatively common to find. Most research these days requires some "applicability" for funding to be received, but whether or not the research makes it to the market is a different thing! As an example of both cross-field research and potentially commercial applicability, I'm currently working near a lab that is adding compounds (via chemistry) to certain structures in the hope of eliciting a greater immune responses from vaccines
For most people a PhD is a stepping stone for their further research, it basically is an indicator that you are 1) bright enough to do independent work and think for yourself and 2) motivated, dedicated and organized, and as such are probably going to be a good productive employee, even if you leave science totally and do something else. So even if you did do an academic PhD, there is a good chance that you will be employed by industry afterwards, rather than having to continue down the academic path (less than 5% of PhDs go on to become academic researchers).
If you have some ideas that are potentially marketable, then these can be taken to the university commercialization branch (most universities have one), and if you are a student, they will often give you the patent and a share in the profits (staff usually don't get either as they are considered to be working for the uni, and hence it is the uni's property), but this will depend on the uni and local laws.
Setting up a company is a different thing altogether - you need a really marketable idea and to have done enough of the background research to be able to get it to the point of commercialization, which can take many many years (e.g. new drugs - these require approval, and as such can take 20+ years before they hit the market). Devices and diagnostics are usually quicker, but not necessarily. Not that I have any experience with this side of things - so take this last paragraph with a grain of salt.