Career Advice: Finished Biochemistry BSc, want to an MSc but not 100% sure on what.

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Report Thread starter 6 years ago
Hi this is my first post on tsr, hope you can give me some good career advice...

So I've finished my BSc Biochemistry degree in 2013 and have been getting some lab experience since. I was thinking of doing a masters in Clinical Biochemistry, initially, but after realising how hard it is to get into this course and reading that the industry is becoming more computerised I wanted to make sure I future proof my career before I invest in a Masters.

Now two of the options I have been advised on and am interested in are Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, but im still finding it hard to decide on which course is best for the future?

Im looking for a course that can utilise my practical biochemistry skills and at the same time take advantage of the computerisation and interdisciplinary nature of new jobs in science atm.

I like the concept of bioinformatic as it involves computer science, data science, database management, etc, but it doesnt involve any lab work. Biotechnology on the other hand, from what I understand, involves vice versa.

Im currently working in geotechnical laboratory, and although it is not an industry i wanted to go in before and didnt study for, i understand the there are alot of jobs in agriculture, geotechnical and testing industry aswell, so i've also though about possibly going into an agriculture crop related industry or doing an environmental science msc. However, although I have lab experience in that field, my BSc in Biochemistry would feel like a abit of a waste.

I hope i've given you an idea of what situation im in and hope you can give me ideas on what courses i can do for my masters...thanks in advance
Tyler Bam
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Report 6 years ago
Hey, sorry to see you haven't had any replies to your thread yet. Are you sure you’ve posted in the right place? Posting in the specific university or course forum should help get more responses.

If you haven’t already found it, then university connect is a really useful way for finding people at your course/university! You can also find a list of applicant threads and courses here. It's worth checking out if you have questions.

If you need advice on your academic work, then the Study Help section will be able to help you. Hope this helps!
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Report 6 years ago
Beware the sunk cost fallacy - just because you invested a large chunk of your life into biochemistry should have no bearing per se on your decision now. The question is which option gives you the most utility (however you might wish to measure it) given the investment you can make in it now.

Biotech - as a field, it is mature. Much of the work is now applied, useful stuff, e.g. manufacture of plastic precursors by green methods. Very lab-based, working on the basics of a process or its scale-up to industrial scale. Very clever stuff being done in plant biotech but do it only if you can bear some eco-warrior destroying your entire experiment with weedkiller.

Bioinformatics - a newer field, but past its first flush of youth. Strongly associated these days with the use of high-throughput screening technologies. Many of the earlier claims of what you could do have turned to ash (e.g. identifying gene targets for antibiotic development, etc). OTOH, what's left is rather more applicable/effective than it used to be. The first specifically trained clinical bioinformaticians are being deployed within the NHS now. Bioinformaticians, on the whole, have a service role, to their annoyance, rather than leading the initiation and development of projects - that still lies with the lab-based scientists. This field smoothly merges into systems biology/computational biology/<whatever new buzzwords>. My view is that a bioinformatician without lab experience has (i) an unhealthy confidence in the data they get handed which is often unbelievably c**p, (ii) wants unrealistic numbers of replicates for experiments. If you are reasonably numerate, systems/computational biology may have better career prospects just now because they are new labels that have buzzword value still. Also, areas of bioinformatics dealing with metabolomics data (from LC-MS, MALDI-TOF, etc) are so new that there is still scarcity value. The ideal bioinformatician has some lab experience, solid understanding of biology, can code well, is highly numerate, strong in statistical inference, knowledge about software/hardware/networks and works for peanuts on fixed term contracts in academia .... then gets poached by medical genomics decision support startups (good money, semi-steady job, perhaps IPO paydirt down the line) or the City (big data skills, big money). [Sorry, my cynicism breaking out again]

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