I have completed MBBS and would like to know about the scope of research. Please let me know about other options for higher studies including medical nanotechnology? DR. VINOD IDICULA, EMAIL

There are two ways to switch over to research leading to Ph.D. for meritorious MBBS graduates.

The main option is to get admission to a three-year medical postgraduate programme (MD or MS). Thereafter one can go for medical research leading to Ph.D.

Besides this, a few research institutions admit meritorious medical graduates directly for research programmes.

For example, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology under the Government of India functioning at Poojappura, Thiruvananthapuram, offers major research programme in disease biology and molecular medicine as well as plant biotechnology and discovery.

First class (with 60 per cent marks) MBBS degree holders are also eligible for admission ( www.rgcb.res.in). This Ph.D. programme is affiliated to the University of Kerala.

Those having a valid research fellowship from UGC- CSIR or ICMR, category A of Department of Biotechnology are eligible to receive fellowships.

After PG courses

In India, an MD or MS is a postgraduate degree awarded to MBBS holders after three years of study. The research element is not prominent here, as these courses are meant to provide clinical qualification, resembling the professional doctorate degrees of the US. In surgery, orthopaedics and gynaecology, the equivalent degree is Master of Surgery (MS). DNB qualification (diploma of the national board) is considered equivalent to MD and MS. DNB can be obtained by clearing the centralised entrance test after completing three years of postgraduate training in hospitals recognised by the national board, New Delhi ( www.natboard.edu.in).

After obtaining the first postgraduate degree (MD, MS, DNB), one can go for further specialisation in medical or surgical fields. This requires three years of training and study and then passing an examination, both theory and practical. The degree awarded is DM (Doctorate in Medicine). For surgical superspecialities, the degree awarded is M.Ch. The DM or M.Ch. degrees are equivalent to the fellowship training in the US and are considered postdoctoral degrees in India, similar to Ph.D.

After MBBS, one can go for medical postgraduate studies (MD or MS) through an entrance test. At the postgraduate level, aspirants can specialise in medicine and surgery. PG programmes (MD or MS) are usually of three-year duration. The major specialisations include general medicine, general surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, dermatology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, ENT (ear, nose and throat), psychiatry and anesthesiology. Those with post-graduation (MD or MS) can further go for Ph.D. in any specialised area of medicine. MD or MS degree holders can complete the doctoral programme in two years. Postgraduates in medicine with 60 per cent marks are eligible to apply for Ph.D. Selection will be on the basis of an entrance test and interview.

Those who hold UGC- CSIR or ICMR fellowship can directly appear for interview.

Prominent institutions such as All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) New Delhi, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for

Medical Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, Jawaharlal Institute for Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Puducherry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh and Christian Medical College, Vellore provide research facilities leading to Ph.D.

Candidates who have an MBBS degree, one-year internship and a medical council registration are eligible for admission to MD, MS programmes.

For DipNB, one should have passed primary examination of the national board also. Duration of these courses is three years.

Eligibility for DM and M.Ch. programmes: MBBS degree, one-year internship and medical council registration.

For M.Ch. (Neuro) eligibility is MBBS degree, one-year internship, medical council registration and MD or MS

Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology is one of the prominent institutions in Thiruvananthapuram that offers DM or M.Ch. (3 years) courses. For DM, subjects available are cardiothoracic and vascular anaesthesia, neuroananthesia, cardiology, neurology, cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. For M.Ch., subjects available are vascular surgery, neurosurgery (after MS). Ph.D. programmes can also be pursued at the institute.

Research and training

Research on new methods of treatments, drugs and their effects are mostly done in research establishments and drug firms. Doctors often combine clinical and scientific work but there are research vacancies too for those interested in scientific research and development of medicine.

Some leading hospitals involved in research provide facilities in clinical research with fellowships in association with foreign universities. Medical graduates including MBBS holders are eligible to participate in clinical research.

Nano medical science

Meritorious MBBS graduates can opt M.Tech. programmes in medical nano technology or nano medical sciences. But limited opportunities are available for study. In Kerala, Amrita Centre for Nano Sciences under Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS),

Kochi, conducts M.Tech. nano medical sciences. Total seats: 20. This programme is fully-funded by the Department of Science and Technology. Meritorious M.Sc., MBBS, B.Tech., M.Pharm. and BDS holders are eligible for admission.

Selection is based on entrance test and interview ( www.amrita.edu).

Sastra University, Thanjavur, offers M.Tech. in medical nano technology with the support of Nano Mission Council, Department of Science and Technology. Those who have BE or B.Tech. in biotechnology, biomedical engineering, bioinformatics, chemicalengineering, metallurgy, Pharm Tech; M.Sc. bioinformatics, biotechnology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics or MBBS, BDS, B.Pharm. are eligible for admission. GATE-qualified students will get a stipend of Rs.5,000 per month ( www.sastra.edu)

BARC

The Radiation Medicine Centre of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai conducts diploma course in radiation medicine (DRM).

This course equips candidates for jobs in nuclear medicine centres. Duration: 2 years. Entry qualification is a recognised MBBS degree. Selection is on the basis of an entrance test. Total seat: 4.

Combined degree

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Centre for Biomedical Research under the University of Delhi offers M.Sc.-Ph.D. combined degree in biomedical sciences.

This is a four-year fulltime course. Those who have obtained bachelors degree in biomedical sciences, life sciences, zoology, botany, microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry, environmental biology, biotechnology, B.Pharm., MBBS, B.V.Sc. with 55 per cent marks are eligible for admission.