Studies & Degrees in Pathobiology

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Pathobiology is described as the study and practice of pathology, with greater emphasis on the biological rather than the medical aspects. Pathology, on the other hand, is an extremely varied field of science, which deals with the study of diseases. Bringing these two together, pathobiology tries to understand the nature of disease and its impact on humans and animals. Pathobiology researchers contribute to the national and global community by trying to find different solutions to health problems through discovery, application, and education. They follow the mission to improve disease prevention and treatment through research as well as the development of innovative clinical programs for sick patients. Pathobiology is also very multi-disciplinary in nature, bringing together knowledge from life sciences, clinical medicine, and other areas of study. Therefore, pathobiology researchers often work together with scientists from related fields to discover the casual factors of diseases, gain new knowledge and understanding about disease processes, as well as finding out means for disease detection and identification; discovering factors responsible for disease dynamics in a population, and novel measures of disease prevention.

Personal Qualities

Pathobiology is a field, requiring great attention to detail and self-discipline. Here are other qualities to consider:

  • Good communication skills
  • Excellent problem-solving and analytical qualities
  • Good at research
  • Self-confidence
  • Ability to work with advanced technology and equipment
  • A high degree of motivation; a self-driven personality

Study Options

If you would like to pursue a career in pathobiology, by all means you need to gain a medical degree first. This means that you need to become a doctor, a dentist or a vet. Therefore, it would be best to start considering this type of profession early in high school by taking subjects like biology and chemistry. Once you complete your medical degree (in most cases this takes about five years) and do your foundation years, you can apply to become a pathology trainee. This type of training also takes about five years and is quite demanding in nature. On the other hand, if you are already a graduate in sciences, or another health-related degree, you might be able to take a shortcut to a medical degree, and then apply to pathology (and later on specialize in pathobiology).

At the undergraduate level, coursework in pathobiology is likely to involve pathovirology science, microbiology, biochemistry, genetics, nutrition, immunology, and cell biology.  You should check whether your chosen institution would be offering opportunities in research projects that will enhance your knowledge and experience as well as options for student employment in the field. Seminars and workshops organized by the university are important, too as this will enable you to get in touch with scientific investigators, who carry out research and are an important knowledge resource for students.

Career Options

Career opportunities in the study area of pathobiology vary a lot, depending on whether or not you hold a bachelor's degree in the field or an advanced graduate degree. It is also very important where your specific area of interest within the field falls. Some job titles to look at include veterinarian, forensic pathologist, biomedical technician, biomedical researcher, microbiologist, pathobiologist, immunologist, and teacher.