Does having a PhD, an MD, or an MD, PhD matter if want to run a successful independent lab? The short answer is no.

I know in this is hard to see within this current economic climate . This has raised anxieties. So young researchers are trying to give themselves every little advantage in order to secure a position or to stay afloat. I find that this just distract them from working on their scientific goals.

I had an old colleague tell me that he got an MD, PhD, instead of a straight PhD, in order to help secure funding. I think he believed that it really helped him. Where the data suggests a very slight advantage of MD,PhDs over a PhD when securing funding, the ultimate success lies on the individual.


Securing funding is only a part of managing a lab. There are other factors of management to consider; operations, data, personnel, etc. The list can go on when speaking about management, per-se. It just becomes too overwhelming thinking of all of the ways you can give yourself the “upper” advantage.

What really does matter is the science. If the science is solid, your practice will tend to attract those who can help to manage your lab. So I suggest focusing on getting good peer reviewed publications. This is what matters.

Therefore, your degree doesn’t dictate your success, your scientific ideas dictate it. While degrees, funds, operations, or personnel can help to facilitate your success, ultimately your scientific ideas will drive it. Science should be your focus for success, not whether you have the right degree.