Stem cell technology, designer drugs, gene splicing and more -- career options abound for scientists interested in cellular research. In addition to the human aspects of cytology, scientists could also study cells in plants or animals.
Molecular and Cellular Biologist/Microbiologist
Cellular biologists or microbiologists study and research single- and multi-cellular level processes. They can work in fields relating to DNA or in health care, studying how cells mutate to cause diseases such as cancer. They can also conduct research for drug companies to help develop remedies or in the field of medicine, working on stem cell research, cloning or RNA transcription, among others. Microbiologists are tasked not only to research cell growth, development and structure, but they are also often required to analyze the data gathered and apply it to solve health problems, and to advance biological technology and development.
Molecular biologists need a strong base in mathematics and biology. It is likely you'll need at least a bachelor of science degree or higher to get started in this field.
Geneticists fall in the branch of biology that focuses solely on the study of genes and chromosomes. Career paths include clinical/medical geneticists or researchers, who typically conduct cellular/molecular research with a view to medical applications. Medical and clinical geneticists usually have medical training, along with their undergraduate and master's focuses. Genetic laboratory research assistants and technicians typically work under a clinical geneticist, and conduct cellular research as guided by him. Most lab technicians have at least a bachelor’s degree in genetics, biological science or a related field and many have a master's in the same or similar fields.
Pharmacologists develop, identify and test drugs to cure, treat and prevent disease. They also test substances to determine if they are harmful to the public and to the ecosystem. Neuropharmacology and toxicology are the particular career paths that deal the most with cell research. Research scientists in these fields analyze the effects of chemotherapy on cancer cells, and of drugs on human cells, germs and viruses. Toxicologists focus on poisonous drugs, other chemicals and pollutants and their effects on cells.
Pharmacologists typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in science and/or mathematics, plus graduate study in pharmacology. Pharmacologists who conduct sophisticated research on humans must have both a doctorate in pharmacology and a medical degree.
Botanists can spend their careers researching plant cells and genetics. They study the effects of gene splicing of one plant to another, as well as how this data can be used to better the human and/or plant population. For example, genes can be added to plants, or the genes in them can be altered, to cause them to grow more nutritious foods, or provide larger yields, for humans consumption. Botanists also study plant cell membranes or research how to manipulate plant cells to reduce plant diseases. Botanists need to have a strong background in the sciences, from botany to chemistry to mathematics.