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From Piedmont, North Carolina, USA:

I am just out of high school and was wondering what I need to do to become a diabetes researcher. I want to help find the cure for diabetes. Where do I start?


Good for you! First of all, I think you need to try to make up your mind about what you enjoy and are good at. Did you get straight A's in science for the last few years or did you much prefer social studies and being involved with others in non academic activities? I say this for two reasons. The first is that by the time you have PhD as, say, a researcher in immunology or genetics, the cure for type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes may be well on its way either through preventing the onset in susceptible children or through some variant of transplant technology perhaps using stem cells together with much improved ways of ensuring tolerance to the transplant. So start by aiming to do really well in college and then begin to think how you can apply this to helping young people with diabetes.

The second reason, of course, is that there are all sorts of careers, besides basic science ones, that will offer opportunities for research on a cure or on better ways to help young people with diabetes. You might find that you could do best with a liberal arts degree and then training as a medical social worker or a clinical psychologist or you might aim for a medical school that has an MD-PhD program and then go on to a post-doctoral fellowship. That's a long haul and of course along the way you may get interested in some other problem besides diabetes. You would be especially helped if you could get a research assistant summer job in a recognised center.


Original posting 13 Mar 2003
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