Itinerary towards cancer research for Math graduate?

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Itinerary towards cancer research for Math graduate?

Post by rebpalma » Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:08 am

Hi, I'm a Math graduate working full-time in a non-Biology-related field. I have plenty of experience with SQL querying, some experience with predictive modelling, and little programming background, although I'm learning Python right now, and I want to start learning R-programming in January.
I've been trying to help in cancer research and/or genetics research for several years now in more sophisticate ways than CellSlider or Phylo (citizen science projects). Unfortunately I don't have enough time to study Biology at a brick-and-mortar university (and the lectures are scheduled during my working hours), and in my country (Spain) that's the only way to study Biology.
The closest degree to Biology I can obtain at a distance official university is Chemistry.
I have done plenty of Coursera and Khan Academy Biology and Chemistry courses and I'm learning a lot but once I finish each course I can do nothing more (Biology-related) and I'm back to square one.
I spend hours each day reading genetics and cancer-related scientific texts but at some point I would like to do more than reading! I want to help!
I have contacted several research institutions in my city but they have rejected me for three reasons mainly: (a) my not being able to work with them full-time, (b) not being able to accomodate a non-remunerated volunteer into their structure due to bureaucratic reasons, and (c) my lack of life-science background.

What do you advise me to do? (If you know what to do in the Spanish context, that would be double helpful). What itinerary do you suggest I follow? Right now my only idea is to study Chemistry at a Spanish distance university (the UNED, as the UOC or the Open University in the UK are waaay over my budget) and hope that in the eight to ten years that I'll take me to get my degree in Chemistry, the situation will have changed and there will be more online or distance opportunities to help.
Do you know of a more straightforward way?
Thank you very much in advance!

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