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Medical Scientist

The medical scientist lead the way in research in innovation in the medical field. They are highly trained and educated capable of understanding the intricacies of the human body and how the environment affects all organisms.

What to Expect

The medical scientist work to understand diseases that affect humans and other conditions of the body. They strive to understand the connection between the environment and how it affects the human body. Medical scientists research how diseases, bacteria, and other pathogens negatively impact the human body.

Medical scientists are responsible for several advancements in modern medicine. Various vaccines, treatment, diagnosis methods, and even preventive care can all be attributed to the work of medical scientists.

A PhD is required to become a medical scientist not to mention years of hard work and effort. These professionals perform tasks such as;

  • Research
  • Clinical investigation
  • Drug development
  • Technical writing for journals and grant proposals
  • Reviewing current regulations

The main focus of medical scientist is to understand how and why the human body gets sick. Whether it is through the common cold or virus, these scientist research, run tests, and develop theory in order to gain a better understanding of the relationship between the body and the condition.

Medical scientists can either operate independently or in the private sector. Working independently with either a University or hospital the medical scientist is able to pursue the research he or she is interested in. They must write grant proposals before being given any research money and there is a possibility that the grants will either be denied or accepted only to be denied at a later date.

Medical scientists working for the private sector are limited in what they are able to research and study. Often times they are given a very specific goal or agenda and are expected to meet that goal within a limited time. Working for the private sector means that the research is also threatened if the company ever decides that the research is simply not profitable enough to continue.

Currently, medical scientists are working towards solving some of life’s most debilitating conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Education, Training, and Certification

The education requirements for a medical scientist are rigorous. A Ph.D. in a biological science field is required though it is recommended that the student also receive a medical degree as well.


The medical degree will allow the student to perform clinical duties alongside their medical scientist duties. Other courses recommended are;

  • Advanced Mathematics
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Humanities
  • Writing
  • Biology

Once undergraduates are ready to advance they have two choices; enrolling in a medical degree/ Ph.D. program or the more traditional Ph.D program as offered by universities.

The M.D./Ph.D program will train the student in everything he or she will need to know to become a medical scientist well versed in clinical duties. This program will take about 7 years and is extremely intensive.

The Ph.D program can take up to 6 years and focuses only on what it takes to graduate the university with an advanced degree in medical sciences.

Becoming a licensed physician alongside the medical science coursework will allow you to draw blood and run basic clinical tests. These tests are often necessary in order to see the results of trial drugs and even diagnosis treatments.

Employment Options

A medical scientist can be employed in either the private or public sector. They can be employed by companies such as pharmaceutical companies or by universities and government agencies. Medical scientist can also work for;

  • Hospitals
  • Educational institutions
  • Medicine manufacturing
  • Research firms

Employment Outlook

The medical scientist field is expected to enjoy increased growth. This is due to the numerous advances made in biotechnology. With recent advances in genetics and other similar studies medical scientists will continue to go about researching viruses and diseases.

Projected Salary

Salaries and wages are dependent on the field of study and if the medical scientist is employed by a corporation or in the public sector. On average a medical scientist can earn anywhere from $50,000 to $90,000 annually.

The editors of McGraw-Hill and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Big Book of Jobs, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2012-2013 ©2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Material "Adapted"

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