General Question

flange's avatar

How does one go about becoming a virologist?

Asked by flange (43points) August 18th, 2008

Information? Anecdotes? Curriculum? Further study advice?

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17 Answers

trumi's avatar

Here are some online lectures I found from SoCal. Maybe do a Google search for a basic outline?

shilolo's avatar

Flange. I majored in chemistry in college, and went on to study immunology and microbiology in graduate school. Virology is essentially an offshoot of microbiology, so you should look into college/graduate schools that are solid in that. Beyond that, if you could provide more information as to what kind of career in virology you are seeking, I would be glad to help.

sarapnsc's avatar

You would have to gain a diploma from an accrediated 4 year college and graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree.
Once in college, you have an advisor who can guide you in what courses you need to take, depending on the field you want to go into. But it is a definate you will have to have a solid background in courses in life sciences or biochemistry.
There are many different careers for a Virologist!

flange's avatar

@ shilolo

well I don’t know much yet. i’ve studied biochemistry, and, to give you a very abstract description, I’ve long been interested in the intersection of biochem, biomedical engineering and technology. the more I learn of virology in a very general sense, the more enticing it becomes.

what’s your experience in chemistry? where did you do post-bac? what do you do know? please forgive the boom boom bam questions!

flange's avatar

@sarapnsc What are they!?

sarapnsc's avatar

Here are some:
food safety, emergency preparedness, emerging infectious diseases, newborn screening/genetics, environmental sciences, and public health informatics. You also can specialize by disease—HIV or TB, for example—or by disease agent (what causes a disease).

Some specific roles include:

Bioterrorism Coordinator
Newborn Screening Manager

shilolo's avatar

I majored in chemistry, but focused on biological chemistry. I then went on to do an MD-PhD at the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD program in New York City. Cornell (in NYC) has a good microbiology and immunology program, but so do a number of other schools. If you plan on getting a PhD, prepare yourself for years of biomedical research.
Right now I am an infectious disease doctor. I mainly do biomedical research (nearly full time). Eventually I hope to run my own lab in an academic medical center, but that is still a few years away (sadly).

shilolo's avatar

@sarapnsc. Just for clarification, TB is not a virus. In addition, many of those “roles” are not really for virologists (like newborn screening managar, chemist, supervisor, etc.)

sarapnsc's avatar

There are just so many…the field is wide open for you…in the meantime if your interested, you could get a phlebotomy certificate/diploma and work in that part of the field. That is what I did, just so I could put it on my resume. I decided to change direction and didn’t get a biology degree. Math sucked and was hard for me, you have to take the above average math courses too!

flange's avatar

@sarapnsc I lurve math! It was my major in college. Thanks for you answers. I’m somewhat familiar with the general careers and options. I’m really looking for specific information and especially experiences—it sounds like you’ve got some of that. Really, really I’m interested in emerging topics you might identify, sort of the insider’s view on virology and one I can’t glean from quick googles or glancing at really confusing articles in the med journals.

sarapnsc's avatar

flange sure, you can email me anytime. I used to work at the hospital and learned alot there, I know a professor at USC that would be happy to help you much better than I can.
If you want to ask the questions, I could ask him and get back with you.
When I stated I switched majors, I really meant it. I ended up getting a business degree and an archaeology degree. Now if that isn’t a complete turn around!
Guess what, you know that song by Bono….I still haven’t found what I’m looking for! I work at the state museum!

flange's avatar

@shilol That sounds like fun. What does your research cover? I never knew Cornell (-Weill?) had this crazy program. (I live in NY; in fact I’m at work now right around the corner from NYPresb).

Could you go a little more into some relevant microbiology topics or even pathological material you’ve come across that may fall into virology? I think I have this distant idea of emerging topics in virology research delving into medical engineering. I like to tinker!

flange's avatar

sarap I’m the opposite. have finance and math degrees (and a philosophy minor), but i’m completing pre-med and biochem classwork part-time…for fun. It started as an intense hobby, now it’s a brewing desire to flip off the smug gentlemen i work for and pursue my rebel career in virology.

sarapnsc's avatar

Oh wow, then you will only have to take the science part of it. Unless you have been out of school for a while, then sometimes the school makes you take some of those classes over. I was able to clep 4 of my classes. Maybe you can do that, in the areas they state you have to get, see if you can do that. It sure will save you money and time!
I still have my microscope and even though I am no longer in that field, I still love looking at things with it! I love taking peoples blood and telling them what type of blood type they are. Lot of adults, don’t know that!

I have to go for now, if I can help you any further, please let me know. Good luck to you and stick with it!

shilolo's avatar

@Flange. Your last question is a bit too much to answer simply. There are thousands of “relevant microbiology topics” relating to virology. Perhaps you can narrow your interest and send me a PM, and we can discuss.

flange's avatar

@shilolo I will PM you…thanks. You’re right—too broad. By relevant microbiology topics, I meant emerging topics in the field. I’ve done some topical and categorical research into viruses (very, very limited stuff), but reading some of the journals is slow going for me—I’m just too green. Unfortunately, methinks that’s where the juicy stuff is.

Going to check out now, but I’d love to pick your brain in the near future. Goodnight!

sarapnsc's avatar

No, but they are for someone who holds a 4 year degree with a Bachelor of Science. That is what I was pointing at and trying to help with…not just for a virologist. I think flange knows pretty much what a virologist does, that is self explanatory, just from the prefix.

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