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How do I get Started in Neurology Research?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Jan 29, 2024
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Experts in the field of neurology research study the anatomy and physiology of the brain. Researchers might investigate chemical activity, brain development, evolutionary matters, neurological disorders, or reactions to various drugs. To get started in neurology research, a person must typically receive a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree from an accredited university or college and acquire an internship or fellowship at a research institution.

An individual who wants to conduct neurology research can begin preparing when he or she is still in high school. A student who performs well in multiple advanced science courses has the best chance of being admitted into a university undergraduate program. High school guidance counselors can help hopeful researchers find schools that fit their goals, attain scholarships or grant money, and prepare application materials.

Undergraduates typically major in either psychology or one of the main biological sciences, such as chemistry or biology. An individual preparing for neurology research usually takes several statistics and laboratory courses to learn about different research techniques and equipment, as well as how to manipulate data and write scientific papers. A student may choose to become involved in a university research program, working as an intern or assistant and gaining valuable firsthand experience in the field.

A bachelor's degree is often sufficient to find paid work as a research assistant in private research facilities and university laboratories. Research assistants perform a variety of tasks, such as setting up experiments, interviewing participants in clinical trials, monitoring tests, entering data, and analyzing results. An assistant may also perform clerical and janitorial duties at a facility, such as answering phones, scheduling appointments for participants, preparing testing equipment, and cleaning up after an experiment.

Individuals who wish to attain more prestigious positions in neurology research institutes usually pursue master's or doctoral degrees. Post-baccalaureate studies involve extensive classroom and laboratory work, where students gain expert knowledge about a specific area of neurology research. Most schools require individuals to conduct independent research in order to write a theses or dissertation and obtain their degrees.

Many neurology universities help graduates find postgraduate or postdoctoral fellowships with research institutions. A fellow usually works alongside experienced scientists to gain a detailed understanding of neurology research. He or she might be involved with writing grant proposals, facilitating clinical trials, and publishing scientific papers. After a period of one to two years, a new researcher might be given the opportunity to begin conducting independent research and experiments.

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Discussion Comments
By David09 — On Oct 20, 2011

@Mammmood - If you want to work on patients, you need to become a neurology doctor. For this specialty then you would have to go to medical school.

Perhaps it would be a specialized medical school that focused on neurology, I don’t know, but you would definitely need the training. I don’t think I’d have the commitment to do that myself either.

My wife majored in biochemistry but she never did anything with it. I had always thought she should have at least pursued something like a scientific research specialty of some sort, and the neurology research job seems to fit the bill perfectly.

By Mammmood — On Oct 19, 2011

I guess you don’t have to go to medical school to become involved in neurology research, which is what I had assumed prior to reading the article.

I suppose that as long you’re not operating on patients and instead are simply gathering data, then I guess it would make sense that a bachelor’s degree alone would be sufficient.

I think this specialty might be ideal for people who have some inkling to go into a medical field of study, but don’t want to spend the extra time for medical school and may not necessarily want to become doctors.

The only disadvantage I see is that your job options seem a little more limited than they would be if you were a doctor.

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