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PhD research to Post Doc application - (Dec/29/2012 )

Is it feasible that we change our research topic e.g. bacterial research to cancer/ heart related studies, when applying for post doc? Will there be greater rejection rate for such job application?


hi prabhubct,

I actually know several postdocs who switched to topics different from their PhD work (and yup, even one from microbiology to cancer research) but can we ask why you wanna do this? You have lost interest in your current research or you just want to change directions or perhaps ‘expand your horizon’ so to speak?

Or is it bec you find that there are a lot more opportunities for postdoc training in cancer or heart disease research? Of course one has a better chance of getting the position if they have been working in the same topic (or at least very closely related to it) and are familiar with or proficient in the commonly-used techniques but it is supposed that as a PhD graduate you are equipped with the right skills and knowledge (how to read papers, design expts, follow protocols, analyse data, publish papers etc) so you can move forward in your career. And perhaps coming in from a different background, it could be an advantage that you'd bring in a different perspective, a fresh way of looking at things.

Although postdoctoral positions usually entail doing more independent work with very minimal supervision, it is still considered a training after all and if you are up to the challenge, highly motivated, resourceful, excited about this new direction and will become fully engaged in it, then don’t worry so much about the rejection rate. You just have to be certain that this is really what you want to do. And of course needless to say, you must 'sell' yourself effectively in your letter of intent to the prospective PIs.


Hello Casandra,
I find more opportunities in cancer/ Heart research. As last week I asked one scientist (who have done post-doc in Microbiology) here about post-doc application, he told me that there are better opportunities in cancer/heart research area than bacterial research. About my loosing interest in current research, no I find it amazing. Bacteria grows fast, you get to know your results faster (Of-course negative often), no doubt I feel its best model for molecular biology research. The additional fact is that right from childhood I wanted to do research in cancer biology but did not have opportunity yet.
BTW I am Veterinarian, done Master in Biochemistry (wildlife Research) and pursuing PhD in Biochemistry (Bacterial Research). Thanks for reply, it is really helpful for me to understand better.