‘Biomedical research’ is a broad, all-inclusive term for all facets in the medical and scientific community engaged in research-which in this context, pertains to studies on human health and disease . It is typically divided into categories like “bench research”-that deals with the core fundamentals of science and “clinical research” which is run on the same convictions that drive a research project but involve patients and different stages of trials leading to the discovery of a new drug/process.There are subclasses of research dedicated to enhance knowledge in the field of medicine.
The discussion pertaining to various breeds of research is riveting and undying, but the goal of all entities in biomedical research remains unanimously the same: to provide dynamic breakthroughs that will enhance human health and recovery.
Who conducts biomedical research? Research personnel are typically ‘biomedical scientists’ assisted significantly by other biologists,physicists, chemists, and technicians. A dedicated team of such personnel is actively engaged towards achieving the goal that they have set.
How do people become “biomedical scientists”?
A career leading to research often begins with a Bachelors in Science/Medicine Degree, which is generally followed by a postgraduate degree. Positions at academic institutions, as well as senior scientist positions at most companies are taken up by highly educated and/or experienced individuals with a drive for achieving brilliance.
The crux of the topic: what Biomedical Research entails, resolving prejudice and myths related to biomedical research and understanding its goals.
Common Prejudice: “Research is a sluggish and tedious field and often always leads to nothing significant”
Resolving the prejudice: If scientists and doctors in the past had imbibed such views, we would still be without cure for diseases like smallpox! Medical research might take years to lead to its goal, but it can never be worthless. A lot of breakthroughs have essentially been made as a result of trial and error and advances cannot happen without research. Research is the key to our knowledge and hence, and even as the debate over the advantages and disadvantages of research progresses, research never stops. A huge amount of funds, resources dedicated to just research are spent every year.
Biomedical Research: the finer details.
Biomedical researchers are driven by the idea to implement a diagnostic process/drug/process used in the context of medicine with an end goal to improve health.
For example, clinical trials aimed at reducing the prevalence of cardiovascular disease could be the goal of a particular research project. It generally involves more thorough details and hypothesis, and all the studies and experimentation are aimed at proving said hypothesis.
Biological processes in healthy humans, techniques used in medical practice and surgery, epidemiological surveys (statistical studies), studies of symptoms and the progression of disease, studies in the field of genetics and genomics to “edit” genomes to prevent hereditary diseases- are all examples of the field of study in biomedical research.
Candidates for research:
Technically, a research fellow must at least have a Masters degree of their specialisation, along with significant work experience in their field. Undergraduate students can work on research projects, with senior scientists as their mentors.
Any field of research is prone to high dropout rates. High achievement potential, great success expectancy and promising hypotheses can still not suffice to keep the drive for research going for some individuals because not everyone is “built for research”
Senior researchers often observe that most high achieving students are dedicated and follow what is expected of them in terms of academics, but the truly rare ones, the so-called “one percent” are those willing to stand in the face of all odds. Qualities that stand out in such people include an inherent predisposition for scientific inquisition- the undying desire to keep broadening their knowledge, accompanied by enormous resilience.
It is also true that biomedical research is not only for biology/ medical students. Individuals from other fields- senior scientists and fellows- who can contribute to biomedical research using their knowledge and skill set can also work in this field.
Biomedical Research in India:
ICMR: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, is one of the oldest medical research institutes in the India.
It is renowned for the incorporation and promotion of biomedical research in India.
With a total of 26 research institutes across India, ICMR is spearheading the biomedical research community by carrying out intramural and extramural research.
IISc and IISER: These premium educational institutes located all over the country (IISc is located in Bangalore) also share the credit for promoting and instigating bright minds in the field of research. They inculcate these values in students at a young age, through their integrated programmes (BSc+MSc and MSc+Phd programmes)
Finally, Biomedical Research is not just about logging long hours in the lab. To stress this point and to highlight the reach and effect of biomedical research on the population, let us take the example of antibiotic resistance- currently the hot topic of biomedical research. Disease causing bacterial genomes that are resistant to a plethora of antibiotics have been creating havoc in the medical world. This essentially means that for every new antibiotic produced, there may and most probably will be a species of bacteria that are resistant to it. What it implies is that, deadly infections caused by these bacteria may not be destructible. Bacteria evolve fast and we have already seen deaths from deadly bacterial infections that progressed in humans despite administering the highest and most potential antibiotics. Research pertaining to antibiotic resistance is currently focused on producing a means of terminating bacterial infections using components that bacteria will not be able to mount a resistance to even with progressive evolutionary cycles.
This is just a small part of the large number of activities the biomedical field is engaged in. Hence, it is evidently a very dynamic field of work, and even after enduring scrutiny, has been coming out on top with novel means to make life on earth better.