I did not read the March 28th editorial that Ms. Roberta Genini of Fresno is responding to, so I cannot address Ms. Genini's primary concern: a 2.6 million dollar grant from the state of California towards what I assume to be biomedical research. However, there is one strikingly idiotic aspect of the letter which I cannot help but comment on.
Ms. Genini writes:
[G]rant $2.6 million to Jang-Won Lee, Ph.D. in molecular developmental biology (no M.D. after his name)...I assume the subtext of the parenthetical in this case is that Dr. Lee is not a "real" doctor. And I propose that unless Ms. Genini has completed a five year doctoral program in any field, much less molecular developmental biology, perhaps she should S.T.F.U. about the letter(s) that prefix the "D" on Dr. Lee's degree.
Now don't get me wrong, most people who hold a Ph.D. (especially in the biological sciences) are quite informal about their title. Most of my professors and all of my research supervisors have made it quite clear that they prefer I call them by their first name. But you can be damn sure that it's Dr. X and Professor Y until they make their preference known.
Your average Ph.D. program in the biological sciences takes between 4 and 6 years. When you are first accepted into the program, you are not even considered a doctoral candidate until you pass your qualifying exams, which generally consist of both an oral and written exam. During the oral exams, faculty members are technically allowed to ask you just about anything they damn well please.
Once you do become an honest-to-god candidate, you are expected to come up with a novel research question, do the research necessary to address the question, and then write a book about it. Meanwhile, you will T.A. at least one semester and of course, complete your own required coursework and attend departmental seminars.
Upon completing your program, you will be a highly skilled professional, qualified for any number of positions in academia, government, and private sector. The world, as they say, is your oyster.
You are now Doctor Ex-Graduate Student, Ph.D. Enjoy it, because you earned it with the coffee-flavored sweat off your brow.
So to sum up, here's a simple test to determin if you're a cretin:
What is the proper way to address "John Doe, Ph.D." assuming you've never met them before in your life?
(A) John Doe
(B) Mr. Doe
(C) Dr. Doe
(D) John Doe, Ph.D. (no M.D. after his name)
If you picked (C), congratulation! Your momma raised you right.
If you picked (D), what the hell is wrong with you?