What’s it like to do a PhD in Developmental Biology?
Studying a PhD in Developmental Biology, you’ll become proficient in a range of laboratory skills, especially cell culture as well as techniques from Biochemistry, Cell Biology, and genetics. Due to the complicated ethical concerns surrounding developmental biology, particularly when it comes to studying human embryos, you’ll develop a comprehensive knowledge of ethics.
Some typical research topics in Developmental Biology include:
- Investigating the development of a particular organ
- Understanding the development of non-human organisms such as fish
- Investigating the role of ions and/or growth factors in early embryo development
- Researching the developmental cause of birth defects
- How stem cells acquire their fate
Most Developmental Biology programmes are fully funded by the university or a doctoral training programme. These programmes usually have a certain number of advertised projects available, with the proposal previously written by the supervisor determining the scope of the work.
Proposing your own research project is not common in Developmental Biology, mainly due to the challenge of finding funding to cover both your PhD and bench fees.
On a general workday, you’ll likely be in the laboratory preparing or performing experiments, analysing data you collected previously, writing up results and discussing your work with your supervisor and colleagues. You’ll submit your thesis of approximately 60,000 words at the end of your PhD, then have to defend it in a viva exam.