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Protein NMR Development vs. Application Labs


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Hello everyone,

This is a somewhat specific question relating specifically to protein nmr (solid-state or solution). I have found a variety of labs across the country that work on this, however, some appear to be more "developmental" than "application". What I mean by this is, some labs seem to focus on actually developing NMR methods for studying various systems, and some others focus primarily on just using the NMR as a biophysical method (among other tools) to analyze their system. I have only ever worked on the latter (we only used NMR, but never developed nmr or computational methods for the analysis). 

Now I personally have no desire to actually design any computational or experimental methods. However, a lot of these "developmental" labs do also have projects dealing with the application of their methods (for obvious reasons). I also think it wouldn't be that bad of an idea to at least be in a lab that does a little development so I can see how that is all done; however, I myself don't want to do any of the developing. I want to focus on a specific biological system, and using NMR along with potentially other biophysical tools, analyze that system. 

That being said, my problem here is I have never been in a lab that does development, and I'm curious and concerned how much is development vs. application. I'm trying to narrow my list of schools down, and I've come across a problem. 

1) Developmental labs have application portions. Is it possible for me to focus my entire PhD program on the application of their methods? Without ever really getting involved in developing methods?

2) How do you find out how much is application vs. development for the lab? From reading their papers, it seems mixed. Most of the papers are on developing new methods, but others are on testing said methods on biological systems. There are papers where they are analyzing one system, and are just developing methods to analyze said system. So how do I know how much of the lab is developing methods, and how much are actually elucidating structure/mechanisms of a particular biological system. 

My main concern is, I don't want to say yes to a school, get into a developmental lab, and find out very little of it is application. I want my entire focus for my project to be just application, no development (but I'd like to see that side of the field as well if possible). The questions/problems my dissertation and project would be addressing is to a particular system, and how I used biophysical methods to answer said problems. Not what methods/techniques I developed to do so.

I was hoping I could find people in here that are in developmental labs for protein NMR, and maybe they could clear up the question of "Should I just eliminate developmental labs form my list and focus just on labs that use the NMR as a biophysical tool (among other tools), or can I join a developmental lab and still focus only on application for my entire program?" Thank you ahead of time as always!

Edit: Is it possible that I could just email the instructor? Let them know what my desires are, and what part of their project I would be interested in taking a part of, and have them tell me whether or not I would be a good fit in their lab (based on how much development vs. application they do, since i would let them know my desire is purely application). 

Edited by samman1994
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