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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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Development Scientist
Top Careers After Development Scientist
Hispanic or Latino8.3%
Black or African American1.2%
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University of California - San Diego7.8%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill7.8%
University of California - Berkeley6.8%
University of California - Davis5.8%
University of Connecticut4.9%
Brigham Young University4.9%
University of Iowa4.9%
Ohio State University4.9%
North Carolina State University3.9%
University of California - Merced3.9%
University of Nebraska - Lincoln3.9%
University of Massachusetts - Lowell3.9%
University of Pittsburgh -3.9%
Michigan State University3.9%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Applications Development Scientist, Advanced||Agilent Technologies, Inc.||Santa Clara, CA||Oct 25, 2015||$122,540|
|Technical Development Scientist||Genentech, Inc.||South San Francisco, CA||Aug 15, 2015||$115,627 -
|Clinical Development Scientist||Inventiv Health Clinical SRE, LLC||Somerset, NJ||Dec 17, 2015||$114,400|
|Scientist I, Technical Development||Biogen, Inc.||Cambridge, MA||Aug 20, 2016||$109,000 -
|Applications Development Scientist||Agilent Technologies, Inc.||Santa Clara, CA||Jan 17, 2014||$107,792|
|Development Scientist||Bayer Healthcare LLC||Berkeley, CA||Dec 27, 2016||$106,545|
|Scientist, Strain Development||Solazyme, Inc.||South San Francisco, CA||Sep 28, 2015||$106,451|
|Scientist I, Technical Development||Biogen, Inc.||Cambridge, MA||Nov 08, 2016||$106,000 -
|Scientist I, Technical Development||Biogen, Inc.||Cambridge, MA||Aug 09, 2016||$106,000 -
|Advisory Engineer/Development Scientist||Lenovo (United States), Inc.||Santa Clara, CA||Oct 03, 2014||$105,000 -
|Scientist I, Technical Development||Biogen, Inc.||Cambridge, MA||Nov 18, 2016||$103,000 -
|Scientist I, Technical Development||Biogen IDEC, Inc.||Cambridge, MA||Nov 21, 2014||$100,644|
|Scientist I, Technical Development||Biogen IDEC||Cambridge, MA||Oct 14, 2015||$100,000 -
|Advisory Engineer/Development Scientist||IBM Corporation||San Jose, CA||May 09, 2014||$91,054 -
|Scientist I, Analytical Development||Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated||Boston, MA||Sep 10, 2015||$90,864 -
|Development Scientist-Chemistry||Corning Incorporated||Corning, NY||Jan 16, 2015||$90,626|
|Advanced Applications Development Scientist||Agilent Technologies, Inc.||Wilmington, DE||Aug 20, 2015||$90,000|
|Cell Development Scientist||Boston-Power, Inc.||Westborough, MA||Dec 21, 2015||$90,000|
|Scientist, Strain Development||Pronutria, Inc.||Cambridge, MA||Nov 24, 2014||$90,000|
|Scientist, Preclinical Development||Merck Sharp & Dohme, Corp.||Summit, NJ||Mar 01, 2014||$78,894|
|Development Scientist, Skin Health||Glaxosmithkline LLC||Warren, NJ||Mar 21, 2016||$78,333 -
|Development Scientist, Skin Health||Glaxosmithkline LLC||Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ||Nov 16, 2015||$78,333 -
|Scientist III, Chemical Development Scale-Up||Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.||Ridgefield, CT||Sep 04, 2015||$77,800 -
|Development Scientist I||Mayne Pharma Inc.||Greenville, NC||Dec 08, 2016||$77,000|
|Development Scientist, Smokers Health||Glaxosmithkline Consumer Healthcare, L.P.||Warren, NJ||Oct 09, 2016||$76,149 -
|Development Scientist, Smokers Health||Glaxosmithkline Consumer Healthcare Holdings (Us) LLC||Warren, NJ||Sep 19, 2016||$76,149 -
|Development Scientist||Glaxosmithkline Consumer Healthcare L.P.||Warren, NJ||Jun 27, 2016||$76,149 -
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