A program that focuses on the scientific study of the composition, manufacture, and secretion of protein compounds by cells and glands and the role of endocrine substances in bodily processes. Includes instruction in protein chemistry, protein secretion, membrane biogenesis and transfer methods, cellular communication, gene and cell regulation, cytochemistry, fractionation, radioautography, and applications such as neuroendocrinology.
Endocrinologists focus on the activity and overall balance of the endocrine system, which is responsible for regulating hormones.
The endocrine system is a complex and delicate network consisting of a number of glands. These glands are small organs that secrete chemical compounds known as hormones into an organism's bloodstream. They are in constant communication with tissue and other organs within the body, exchanging signals that dictate how much of what hormone is released. Hormones control growth and development, as well as metabolic activity, stress, and more. They can affect mood, temperature, sleep patterns, bone density, and a slew of other seemingly unrelated functions.
Hormonal imbalances can come about as the result of medications, stress, environmental factors, and more; it is the responsibility of endocrinologists to discover what could be making a gland produce hormones in excess or deficient amounts and to attempt to restore balance to the body. Sometimes this work consists of developing synthetic hormones to replace absent compounds; other times it involves suppressing an overactive gland or adjusting a signal at its source. All of this requires a deep understanding of the endocrine system and all of its affiliates, as well as a drive to improve patient health.
Work in endocrinology may include...
- Identifying and diagnosing hormone conditions
- Testing blood and other biological samples for hormone markers
- Designing treatment programs to restore hormonal balance
- Using special lab techniques to measure hormone levels
- Recording and assessing data
The majority of endocrinologists work in a clinical or research capacity. Those working in academia tend to teach or publish; they may additionally conduct independent research in university labs. Most endocrinology labs cross over into medical research, whether intentionally or by accident; the endocrine system's effects have a tendency to show up all over the body, and numerous conditions are now being approached on the hormonal level. Biotechnology companies are a big employer of endocrinologists as well, particularly those who make regulatory medical devices such as insulin pumps for diabetics; these companies often collaborate with pharmaceutical development labs that make synthetic hormones.
Becoming an endocrinologist can be a long but rewarding path. Most begin in Bachelor's degree programs, where they study biology and complete extensive coursework in biochemistry, genetics, physiology, and cell biology. Students typically attend medical school after graduating from undergraduate programs, which consists of another four years of intense scientific and clinical training. Aspiring endocrinologists may elect to do their internships, residencies, or rotations in roles that involve the diagnosis and treatment of hormone disorders. This experience can take a long time, but a student emerges a fully qualified endocrinologist with years of experience who can seek professional certification in a subdiscipline. It's common for research scientists to obtain a PhD in endocrinology, which can be a great option for students less interested in clinical work. Some students enter combined PhD/MD programs in order to gain a well rounded expertise in their chosen subject.
We have the endocrine system to thank for everything from puberty to digestion; if you'd like to thank each gland personally, maybe endocrinology is the career for you.
For more information, please follow the links below:
- The Endocrine Society advances hormone research and the clinical practice of endocrinology, as well as educating the public on the critical role hormones play in health and advocating on behalf of the endocrinology community.
- The Hormone Health Network is a valuable source of hormone-related health information for the public, physicians, health professionals, and more.
- The American Association of Clinical Endocrinology aims to improve the health and the lives of those who live with endocrine and metabolic disorders.
- The Society for Endocrinology is a UK-based membership organization that supports scientists, clinicians and nurses who work with hormones throughout their careers.