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What is the difference between medical school and graduate school in terms of biochemistry?

I have been trying to find detailed information as to how both are different but most websites either give the superficial information or they only talk about how they are similar. I do not know what path to choose so I want to be able to know the difference between the two. I know medical school is expensive and mind-breaking but the degree has higher value and you get to be recognized. Thing is I don't want to be a doctor I want to be the one performing research and test trials. On the other hand, graduate school focuses on research and the price is durable but the value of the degree is less in a way? So like what is the difference...#medicalschool #graduateschool #biochemistry #research

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Saul’s Answer

Hi Monica,


I will try to be concise and to the point but I may stray a little from the topic. BUt bare with me.


I received my PhD 2 years ago with a Physiology concentration. My research was done using fMRI to study brain activity in a drug use disorder lab. My course work during grad school consisted of neuroscience and physiology. But my research was completely different from the classes I took. THerefore, I found myself having to search for online courses or trainings that would be helpful to me. I also research the scientific literature to find a lot of the answers to my questions. The point I am trying to get to is that in grad school you choose what you want to study. Each school/program has a list of required coursework and then the courses you want to take that may help you further your understanding about your dissertation.


WIth that being said, I take it that you are interested in Biochemistry. There are various routes you can take to really immerse yourself in Biochemistry in grad school. It is difficult to really understand this but the way that grad school works is that you apply to a program and department. So let’s say that you want to do to UT-Dallas (only because you are from Dallas and I do not really know your choices). You apply to their PhD program and the Chemistry Department. Applying to the Chemistry Department will allow you to take many more biochemistry classes and also come in contact with professor, and possibly mentors, who study the biochemical process of a certain disease. But it is not the only way to do this. You can also apply to the neuroscience or pharmacology departments and go to a lab that has a joint appointmentship with the chemistry department. For example, my current supervisor is a Biochemist but has students from the Pharmacology and from the Neuroscience departments along with Chemistry and Pharmacy students. But most importantly, grad school is a time for you to make choices that will impact your career. If you join a department and see little biochemistry classes then request to take other classes outside. SOme place will allow you to do that because it is enhancing your understanding.


Another typical example is that you shadow or volunteer in a lab over the summer to see what that lab has to offer. If you end up liking the lab but maybe the professor is not associated with chemistry, you can always ask the professor what is the likelihood that he would want to take a chemistry student. Remember that many professors use grad students as a bridge to something they have never done before. Do not be afraid, you have nothing to loose.


As far as the medical school side, I cannot comment much on that since I do not know. BUt I hope that someone here can shed light on that portion.


If there are any additional questions, please do not hesitate to respond. I am more than happy to discuss this topic further.


Thank you and good luck.

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Estelle’s Answer

Hi Monica! I majored in biochemistry in college, and I’m also a physician and surgeon. To give you perspective on the biochemistry side of medicine, most of what we learned related to the treatment of patients. In other words, we learned enough to be able to understand the effects of the drugs we were using and how it affected physiology. So, I have no doubt that on average the biochemical knowledge of the average physician is significantly less than that of the average Ph.D. However, if you do want to do both, MD/Ph.D.’s are available.
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