T Nation

Q for Bill Roberts regarding doctoral programs

Bill, I am a graduate student in exercise science and will be heading into a doctoral program next year. One interest of mine is the effects of steroid hormones (endogenous or exogenous) on skeletal muscle plasticity. I’m also interested in the use of exogenous steroid hormones to prevent AIDS wasting. Do you know of researchers doing good work in this area that I might be interested in working under?

I may be mistaken but I don’t believe either of these areas of study you mention would fall into the purview of exercise science. They would be more in the realm of pharmacology though certainly some researchers in such things are in other departments within a college of pharmacy (for example, pharmacodynamics) or biochemistry departments, or in medical schools.

My article on pharmacological differences between anabolic steroids, on the Mesomorphosis site, has a good list of current references that includes a lot of people doing interesting research in this field. You’d want to pull up the individual articles you found interesting to see who is the author to whom correspondence should be addressed. Similarly, you could do a Medline search on the topics of your interest, and see who is publishing in those areas.

However, from the standpoint of how to succeed in graduate school, finding the person doing the research most interesting to you is not necessarily the best way to go. That person might be an awful person to work for, may have students working for him for 8 years before they get their PhD, various things about the situation might be undesirable, etc. I’d think you are better off with a research topic that you find good and are interested in and the rest of the program is great, as opposed to something you think is a dream topic but the rest of the program has problems.

Besides this, there’s the issue of your research being something that can be completed in a reasonable time, something suitable for a thesis. The above topics really are not, though some subtopic within them might be.

Thanks for your response, Bill. Steroid hormones are not my only interest…I have others (local production of IGF-I by skeletal muscle cells and how it affects skeletal muscle plasticity, for example)…I’m just keeping options open. I know some PhD programs in general physiology have some people who specialize in endocrinology so maybe something dealing with endogenous testosterone and how it exerts its effects on skeletal muscle cells might be something good. I’m just kind of exploring things right now.

Check out Bhasin’s work (Drew UCLA), Baldwin’s (UCI), Edgerton’s (UCLA) and Hellerstein’s (UCB) on Pubmed. Then contact them. good luck