Nanodoctor

Yes, yes, you read it well. I’m a nanodoctor. But we can’t forget I studied physics. Last year, attending an international workshop on Nanomedicine in Malaga (Spain), I had the chance to flip through a lot of resumes of people working in nanomedicine and I realized then that a lot of them were physicists.

And the following question is: what does a nanodoctor do? For instance, we try to find ways to give meds directly on the patient body part affected by the illness. An unbelievable profession (using the words of BBC science channel), where administering meds at the infinitesimal level of nanoscale is possible.

On the Consumer Erosky magazine I read an interesting article (in Spanish) about the “professions of the future”. Nanomedicine was one of these professions, with still unknown specializations like organ maker or designer of nanoboats, that we will use to navigate inside the human body and to destroy cancer cells.

What is the nanomedicine? I recommend you a Youtube video that explain it surely better than I can ever do (in spanish though). However, let me cite a “risky” and simple definition by Euroresidentes web site that I like a lot:

Nanomedicine is the nanotechnology branch that will be the tool to treat illness from the inside of the body and at a cellular or molecular scale.

The nanomedicine is necessarily interdisciplinary, involving the basic research of physicists, chemists and biologists, the more applied work of engineers in material science, electronics and biomedicine, the pharmacists expertise on administration of meds and even the clinical research of doctors.

Funnily enough, if I tell you about the most recent developments of this field, you will think I’m speaking about science fiction:

  • Biosensors: robust devices able to detect illnesses at their very beginning through the measurement of various biometric parameters at the same time. They can execute directly part of the data analysis, becoming a useful tool for the patient and a great source of information for the doctors;
  • More direct and efficient ways for the administration of meds. Built from complex therapeutic nanosystems, these tools allow a controlled release of the active principle, with an adequate rate and directly on the right part of the body;
  • New materials able to mimic specific cellular response. Designed as implant materials, they can control the proliferation and differentiation of cells as well the production of the extracellular matrix used in the bones and tissues reconstruction.

However these are normal research topics in Nanomedicine. There are several centers in Spain and Portugal working currently on them, like CIC biomagune in San Sebastián, the Instituto Catalán de Nanotecnología in Barcelona or the IMDEA Nanociencia in Madrid,  and new centers about to be fully operative like the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory in Braga (Portugal) or the Centro Andaluz de Biomedicina y Nanomedicina in Málaga (Spain).

Another good question, at this point, would be: what do you have to study to become a nanodoctor? To become a doctor you obviously have to study medicine. But to become a nanodoctor you can’t, at least in Spain, take a degree in Nanomedicine. In Spain you can’t even follow a master completely focused on Nanomedicine. Then the only option is to take a master or PhD that includes some courses about specific parts of this field. Among the different choices, one has the official masters in biomedical engineering or in Galenic design and biopharmacy offered by the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain) or the master in Biomedicine of the Barcelona University.

Talking about profession for the future, we need to say something also about companies that hire NanoDoctors. Maybe this will surprise somebody, but Advancell, the European leader in Nanomedicine, has his labs developing nanodrugs in the Campus Vida of the Santiago de Compostela University (Spain). The nanomedicine business will be worth 100 million euros in 2012, according to the “Invest in Spain” project of the Spanish Industry Department. This big business opportunity has been fueling new small companies working together with the Universities, like  Nanogap in Santiago de Compostela, Technical Proteins Nanobiotechnology in Valladolid, Nanoimmunotech in Vigo or Endor Nanotechnologies in Barcelona. They all work in Nanomedicine, doing business with some big companies like PharmaMar, Novartis o Almirall.

The future will be full of new jobs for physicists. My experience is a good example: I was the family black sheep that didn't follow the path marked by my father and grandfather in order to study physics. And at the end here I am: the last doctor of a long familiar saga… a NanoDoctor.

* This article was previously published (in Spanish) on the April 2011 bulletin of the “Colegio Oficial de Físicos.

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More details if you're interested in this post:

  • Where should I send my CV?
    Here and here I leave some useful links of the Fundación Progreso y Salud.
  • Where can I find more information?
    In the website of the Programa Andaluz de Nanomedicina, the website of the 3B´s Research Group in Biomaterials, Biodegradables and Biomimetics or the website of the Centro Andaluz de Nanomedicina & Biotecnología – Bionand. It's also interesting the Programa de mobilidad en nanomedicina (link).
  • What is the typical salary level in the first 5 years?
    It's in the range 15-30K€/year.

2 thoughts on “Nanodoctor”

  1. I’m a sixteen year old tenth grader and i’m obsessed with becoming a nanodoctor. I live in South Africa and nanotechnology is not very wellknown here so i’m gonna study overseas but my question is where can I study and what do I study, well i know we study medicine what I’d appreciate it if someone would give me more information about what couses do I need to do and where do I have to go
    please email me at cece.palesa@gmail.com if you have any information

    hope to hear from you soon

  2. Cranfield’s unique Nanomedicine MSc is the first course of its kind within the UK and Europe to bridge the gap between nanotechnology and medicine.

    Nanomedicine MSc is designed to provide students with advanced knowledge, skills and practical experience of the principles, technology and applications within the rapidly growing area of Nanomedicine. Students will discover how nanotechnology impacts upon new medicinal products, drug discovery and delivery, and acquire an understanding of the practice of medicine utilising nanotechnology.

    The course covers a wide-range of subject areas including: Nanotechnology and Microsystems, Nanobiosensors, Nanomaterials, Nanopharmaceuticals, Nanotoxicology and risk perception, Bioinformatics and Medical diagnostics and devices.

    Funding is available.

    Duration of course:
    Full time – one year
    Part time – up to three years

    Award type:
    MSc/ PgDip

    Entry requirements:
    1st or 2nd class UK honours degree, or equivalent in a relevant discipline such as a science or technology related subject. Candidates with appropriate professional experience wishing to develop their careers are also invited to apply. Where applicable, students must demonstrate competency in English, such as a minimum International English Language Testing System Score (IELTS) of 6.5 or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) 580. Our Academic Summer Programme offers pre-sessional training in English.

    Course start date:
    October

    http://www.cranfield.ac.uk/health/postgraduatestudy/taughtcourses/nanomedicine/index.html?cid=nanoprohtml0811

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