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Become An Associate Principal Scientist

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Working As An Associate Principal Scientist

  • Getting Information
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $93,267

    Average Salary

What Does An Associate Principal Scientist Do

Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health. They often use clinical trials and other investigative methods to reach their findings.

Duties

Medical scientists typically do the following:

  • Design and conduct studies that investigate both human diseases and methods to prevent and treat them
  • Prepare and analyze medical samples and data to investigate causes and treatment of toxicity, pathogens, or chronic diseases
  • Standardize drug potency, doses, and methods to allow for the mass manufacturing and distribution of drugs and medicinal compounds
  • Create and test medical devices
  • Develop programs that improve health outcomes, in partnership with health departments, industry personnel, and physicians
  • Write research grant proposals and apply for funding from government agencies and private funding sources
  • Follow procedures to avoid contamination and maintain safety

Many medical scientists form hypotheses and develop experiments, with little supervision. They often lead teams of technicians, and sometimes students, who perform support tasks. For example, a medical scientist working in a university laboratory may have undergraduate assistants take measurements and make observations for the scientist’s research.

Medical scientists study the causes of diseases and other health problems. For example, a medical scientist who does cancer research might put together a combination of drugs that could slow the cancer’s progress. A clinical trial may be done to test the drugs. A medical scientist may work with licensed physicians to test the new combination on patients who are willing to participate in the study.

In a clinical trial, patients agree to help determine if a particular drug, a combination of drugs, or some other medical intervention works. Without knowing which group they are in, patients in a drug-related clinical trial receive either the trial drug or a placebo—a pill or injection that looks like the trial drug but does not actually contain the drug.

Medical scientists analyze the data from all the patients in the clinical trial, to see how the trial drug performed. They compare the results with those obtained from the control group that took the placebo, and they analyze the attributes of the participants. After they complete their analysis, medical scientists may write about and publish their findings.

Medical scientists do research both to develop new treatments and to try to prevent health problems. For example, they may study the link between smoking and lung cancer or between diet and diabetes.

Medical scientists who work in private industry usually have to research the topics that benefit their company the most, rather than investigate their own interests. Although they may not have the pressure of writing grant proposals to get money for their research, they may have to explain their research plans to nonscientist managers or executives.

Medical scientists usually specialize in an area of research. The following are examples of types of medical scientists:

Cancer researchers research the causes of cancers, as well as ways to prevent and cure cancers. They may specialize in one or more types of cancer.

Clinical and medical informaticians develop new ways to use large datasets. They look for explanations of health outcomes through the statistical analysis of data.

Clinical pharmacologists research, develop, and test current and new drugs. They investigate the full effects that drugs have on human health. Their interests may range from understanding specific molecules to the effects that drugs have on large populations.

Gerontologists study the changes that people go through as they get older. Medical scientists who specialize in this field seek to understand the biology of aging and investigate ways to improve the quality of our later years. 

Immunochemists investigate the reactions and effects that various chemicals and drugs have on the human immune system.

Neuroscientists study the brain and nervous system.

Research histologists have a specific skill set that is used to study human tissue. They investigate how tissue grows, heals, and dies, and may investigate grafting techniques that can help people who have experienced serious injury.  

Serologists research fluids found in the human body, such as blood and saliva. Applied serologists often work in forensic science. For more information on forensic science, see the profile on forensic science technicians.

Toxicologists research the harmful effects of drugs, household chemicals, and other potentially poisonous substances. They seek to ensure the safety of drugs, radiation, and other treatments by investigating safe dosage limits.

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How To Become An Associate Principal Scientist

Medical scientists typically have a Ph.D., usually in biology or a related life science. Some medical scientists get a medical degree instead of a Ph.D., but prefer doing research to practicing as a physician.

Education

Students planning careers as medical scientists typically pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or a related field. Undergraduate students benefit from taking a broad range of classes, including life sciences, physical sciences, and math. Students also typically take courses that develop communication and writing skills, because they must learn to write grants effectively and publish research findings.

After students have completed their undergraduate studies, they typically enter Ph.D. programs. Dual-degree programs are available that pair a Ph.D. with a range of specialized medical degrees. A few degree programs that are commonly paired with Ph.D. studies are Medical Doctor (M.D.), Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.), Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.), and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.). Whereas Ph.D. studies focus on research methods, such as project design and data interpretation, students in dual-degree programs learn both the clinical skills needed to be a physician and the research skills needed to be a scientist.

Graduate programs emphasize both laboratory work and original research. These programs offer prospective medical scientists the opportunity to develop their experiments and, sometimes, to supervise undergraduates. Ph.D. programs culminate in a thesis that the candidate presents before a committee of professors. Students may specialize in a particular field, such as gerontology, neurology, or cancer.

Those who go to medical school spend most of the first 2 years in labs and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, psychology, microbiology, pathology, medical ethics, and medical law. They also learn how to record medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses. They may be required to participate in residency programs, meeting the same requirements that physicians and surgeons have to fulfill.

Medical scientists often continue their education with postdoctoral work. Postdoctoral work provides additional and more independent lab experience, including experience in specific processes and techniques such as gene splicing, which is transferable to other research projects.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Medical scientists primarily conduct research and typically do not need licenses or certifications. However, those who administer drugs, gene therapy, or otherwise practice medicine on patients in clinical trials or a private practice need a license to practice as a physician.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Communication is critical, because medical scientists must be able to explain their conclusions. In addition, medical scientists write grant proposals, because grants often are required to fund their research.

Critical-thinking skills. Medical scientists must use their expertise to determine the best method for solving a specific research question.

Data-analysis skills. Medical scientists use statistical techniques, so that they can properly quantify and analyze health research questions.

Decisionmaking skills. Medical scientists must determine what research questions to ask, how best to investigate the questions, and what data will best answer the questions.

Observation skills. Medical scientists conduct experiments that require precise observation of samples and other health data. Any mistake could lead to inconclusive or misleading results.

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Associate Principal Scientist Jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Senior Scientist 4.9 years
Research Scientist 3.8 years
Lead Scientist 3.6 years
Staff Scientist 3.5 years
Scientist 3.4 years
Top Employers Before
Scientist 10.2%
Fellow 7.3%
Internship 2.5%
Chemist 1.8%
Top Employers After
Scientist 5.7%
Consultant 5.7%
Manager 3.4%
Analyst 2.3%

Do you work as an Associate Principal Scientist?

Associate Principal Scientist Demographics

Gender

Male

52.8%

Female

32.3%

Unknown

14.9%
Ethnicity

White

58.1%

Asian

30.9%

Hispanic or Latino

6.5%

Unknown

3.4%

Black or African American

1.2%
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Languages Spoken

Chinese

16.7%

French

16.7%

Fijian

16.7%

Spanish

16.7%

Russian

16.7%

Italian

16.7%
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Associate Principal Scientist Education

Schools

New York University

9.6%

Seton Hall University

9.6%

Fairleigh Dickinson University

7.7%

University of Florida

5.8%

Lehigh University

5.8%

Columbia University

5.8%

State University of New York Stony Brook

5.8%

Montclair State University

3.8%

University of Houston

3.8%

North Carolina State University

3.8%

University of Delaware

3.8%

LIU Brooklyn

3.8%

University of Pennsylvania

3.8%

Cornell University

3.8%

Case Western Reserve University

3.8%

University of Kentucky

3.8%

Saint John's University - New York

3.8%

University of Wisconsin - Madison

3.8%

Purdue University

3.8%

Michigan State University

3.8%
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Majors

Chemistry

27.0%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

17.7%

Biology

15.6%

Pharmacy

6.4%

Microbiology

3.5%

Chemical Engineering

3.5%

Food Science

3.5%

Health Care Administration

2.8%

Food And Nutrition

2.1%

Neuroscience

2.1%

Environmental Science

2.1%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

2.1%

Business

2.1%

Genetics

1.4%

Physiology And Anatomy

1.4%

Finance

1.4%

Pharmacology

1.4%

Veterinary Science

1.4%

Biotechnology

1.4%

Statistics

0.7%
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Degrees

Doctorate

43.8%

Masters

30.7%

Bachelors

15.7%

Other

6.5%

Certificate

2.6%

Associate

0.7%
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Real Associate Principal Scientist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Associate Principal Scientist SCHRÖDinger, Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2014 $125,000
Associate Principal Scientist Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Rahway, NJ Jun 14, 2016 $116,688
Associate Principal Scientist SCHRÖDinger, Inc. New York, NY Aug 26, 2015 $116,000
Associate Principal Scientist Kraft Foods Group, Inc. Glenview, IL Sep 01, 2013 $113,332
Associate Principal Scientist Biostatistics Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Rahway, NJ Nov 14, 2016 $113,256
Principal Associate Scientist Biogen IDEC, Inc. Cambridge, MA Jan 24, 2014 $113,249
Principal Associate Scientist Dart Neuroscience, LLC San Diego, CA Sep 14, 2016 $111,000
Associate Principal Scientist Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. North Wales, PA Aug 15, 2013 $107,474
Principal Associate Scientist (Senior Supervisor) Biogen IDEC, Inc. Cambridge, MA Jan 24, 2011 $103,541
Associate Principal Scientist, Bioprocess Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Kenilworth, NJ Aug 29, 2016 $101,088
R&D Associate Principal Scientist Pepsico, Inc. Valhalla, NY Jul 13, 2016 $100,000
R&D Associate Principal Scientist QTG Development, Inc. Valhalla, NY Aug 16, 2016 $100,000
Associate Principal Scientist Kraft Foods Global, Inc. East Hanover, NJ Sep 01, 2011 $97,412
Associate Principal Scientist Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Lebanon, NH Jun 01, 2013 $95,909
Associate Principal Scientist Pepsico, Inc. NY Aug 26, 2016 $93,500
Associate Principal Scientist, BIO & Vaccine Formulation Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Kenilworth, NJ Sep 07, 2015 $93,267
Associate Principal Scientist, Pharmacokinetics Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp Kenilworth, NJ Jul 15, 2015 $93,267
Associate Principal Scientist, BIO & Vaccine Formulation Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Kenilworth, NJ Jul 09, 2015 $93,267
Associate Principal Scientist Merck & Co., Inc. Kenilworth, NJ Nov 01, 2010 $89,794
Associate Principal Scientist, Pharmacokinetics Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Kenilworth, NJ Jul 31, 2013 $89,419
Associate Principal Scientist-Pharmacokinetics Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp Kenilworth, NJ Mar 17, 2015 $89,419
Associate Principal Scientist, BIO & Vaccine Formu Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Kenilworth, NJ Jul 31, 2013 $89,419
Associate Principal Scientist, BIO & Vaccince Form Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Kenilworth, NJ Jul 10, 2014 $89,419
Associate Principal Scientist Biostatistics Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. North Wales, PA Sep 01, 2014 $88,795
Associate Principal Scientist-Biostatistics Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. North Wales, PA Aug 15, 2014 $88,795

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Top Skills for An Associate Principal Scientist

AssayDevelopmentDiscoveryAnalyticalMethodsMethodDevelopmentSafetyProteinCrosChemistryMerckSOPProductDevelopmentGLPSynthesisHplcFDADrugProductBiologyLc-Ms/MsCMCIND

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  1. Assay Development
  2. Discovery
  3. Analytical Methods
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Assay development for quantitation of drug levels in tumors and other tissues.
  • Participated in integration processes (post-merger activities) for the alignment of discovery and development activities to company priorities.
  • Provided global training to teams abroad and assisted them in setting up instrument and method development.
  • Conduct required monthly safety inspections.
  • Developed a novel multiplexed LC/MRM assay for the simultaneous characterization of tau protein post-translational modifications.

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Top Associate Principal Scientist Employers

Associate Principal Scientist Videos

Pam Moran & Ira Socol: Leading for Radical Openness

Careers in Public Health Panel (2014)

High-Throughput Screening of GPCRs for Drug Discovery Applications - Recorded Webinar