Biomedical Career Options for Scientists and Physician-Scientists

Discover the wide variety of careers that graduates of PhD and MD-PhD programs can pursue, and how to make yourself a competitive candidate. Although many PhDs and MD-PhDs become research faculty at medical schools and universities, you can also work in other roles at research institutes, pharmaceutical companies, media companies, law and consulting firms, schools, public policy organizations, and the government. 

What else would you like to know about these career pathways? Ask your peers in the comments.



Lique Coolen
Lique Coolen, PhD
Lique Coolen is a professor of physiology and neurobiology and anatomical sciences and associate dean of postdoctoral studies in the School of Graduate Studies in Health Sciences at The University of Mississippi Medical Center. She previously was a professor at the University of Michigan Medical School. The overall goal of our research is to further elucidate the neurobiology of reward and motivation. By knowing how the brain regulates natural rewarding behavior, her lab is trying to gain a better understanding of what is different in the brain's control of addiction. Coolen received her MSc in psychology from the University of Utrecht and her PhD in neuroscience from the University of Nijmegen. She completed postdoctoral training at Yale University and The University of Maryland, Baltimore.
Nancy Schwartz
Nancy Schwartz, PhD
Nancy Schwartz is a professor in pediatrics and biochemistry and molecular biology and dean for postdoctoral affairs at the University of Chicago. She has served on several NIH study sections, foundation review boards, and editorial boards. She is also director of the Kennedy Research Center and has had continuous research funding, including R01, P01, and P30 awards, an AHA Established Investigatorship, and an RCDA, as well as a MERIT award and a Mentor of Excellence award. Schwartz’s current research focuses on developmental disabilities caused by gene defects impacting extracellular matrix components that alter the matrix microenvironment and thus modulate growth factor signaling in developing skeleton and brain. She also directs several training programs. Schwartz’s functions and responsibilities in graduate and postdoctoral education and program administration have focused on the evolving and complex educational needs of emerging researchers and enhancing diversity in the life sciences.
John Horn
John P. Horn, PhD
John Horn is a professor of neurobiology and the associate dean for graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where he is also the director of the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program. His experience includes curriculum design, admissions, program evaluation, and counseling, the advancement of trainee diversity, and support of T32 training programs. He is a founding member of the department of neurobiology and the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior, Horn also served as co-director of the campus-wide neuroscience PhD program and as head of its admissions committee. His research focuses upon the synaptic organization and integrative function of sympathetic ganglia and combines methods of electrophysiology, modeling, anatomy, and molecular biology. Horn is currently chair-elect of the Graduate Research Education And Training (GREAT) Group of the Association of American Medical Colleges and is a past president of the International Society for Autonomic Neuroscience. He earned a BA in chemistry from Brandeis University and a PhD in physiology and biophysics from the University of Miami before completing postdoctoral fellowships in the department of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School.
Gregorio Valdez
Gregorio Valdez, PhD
Gregorio Valdez is an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and department of biological sciences at Virginia Tech. In his lab, he is focused on discovering and manipulating molecules that contribute to age-related deterioration of the motor system, and motor diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and muscular dystrophy. Valdez earned his BS in biochemistry from Lehman College (CUNY), where his research was supported by the NIH program for Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS). After obtaining a PhD in neurobiology and behavior from Stony Brook University in the lab of Simon Halegoua, Valdez carried out postdoctoral training in the lab of Joshua R. Sanes at Harvard University in the Center for Brain Sciences under the support of a Ruth R. Kirstein NRSA fellowship.

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