Neuroscience as a Career: An Area of Expanding Opportunity
Congress decreed the 1990's to be "The Decade of the Brain." With this single act the field of neurosciences has been recognized as an area that can potentially contribute much to our future well-being. Not only will research in the neurosciences be directed toward control, prevention and eventual eradication of those neurological disorders that produce the most severe forms of debilitation in the national population (e.g., Alzheimer's disease), it also will provide means to understand the secrets of nature's most superb evolutionary product, the human brain.
A testimonial to the popularity and interest in research in the neurosciences is the explosive growth in the national Society for Neuroscience membership, from less than 4,000 in 1973 to an estimated 30,000 by the end of the decade. Nationally, the field of neuroscience is a multidisciplinary area that is in a significant growth phase.
Wake Forest University School of Medicine is an expanding institution that has developed the Neuroscience Graduate Program to keep pace with new developments in this field. There never has been a better time to seek training in one or more of the several areas of opportunity unfolding in the field of neuroscience. Those involved in these research areas in the next decade will witness significant breakthroughs in our understanding of genetic and cellular bases of brain function, behavior and cognition.
Following the recent completion of the sequencing of the entire human genome, the post-genomic era will open up enormous opportunities for understanding the function of gene products (proteins), their interactions, and the application of this information to the development of new drugs and treatments for neurological disease.
Career opportunities for PhD students in the neurosciences include universities, medical schools, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology companies, and state and federal government research laboratories. Prospects for employment in one of these settings are excellent over the next 10 years. The Neuroscience Program has existed for 16 years, and 34 students have completed their PhD during that period with an average time in the Program of 5 years.