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Become A Drug Safety Scientist

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Working As A Drug Safety Scientist

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

  • $89,697

    Average Salary

What Does A Drug Safety 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 A Drug Safety 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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Drug Safety Scientist Videos

Drug Injury Lawyer and FDA Drug Safety Board

A Day in the Life of HSA (Corporate Video).mp4

Big Pharma Crony Now In Charge Of Drug Safety

Drug Safety Scientist Jobs

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Drug Safety Scientist Typical Career Paths

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Drug Safety Scientist Demographics

Gender

Male

47.3%

Female

45.5%

Unknown

7.1%
Ethnicity

White

47.2%

Asian

22.0%

Hispanic or Latino

16.4%

Black or African American

9.5%

Unknown

4.9%
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Drug Safety Scientist Education

Schools

Villanova University

8.8%

New York University

8.8%

West Virginia University

8.8%

Northeastern University

8.8%

Drexel University

5.9%

Fairleigh Dickinson University

5.9%

Vanderbilt University

5.9%

San Jose State University

5.9%

Graceland University

5.9%

County College of Morris

5.9%

Pfeiffer University

2.9%

University of Washington

2.9%

University of Texas at Arlington

2.9%

Brown University

2.9%

University of Colorado at Boulder

2.9%

University of California - San Francisco

2.9%

University of California - Los Angeles

2.9%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

2.9%

Touro College

2.9%

University of Pennsylvania

2.9%
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Majors

Chemistry

20.2%

Nursing

19.1%

Pharmacy

14.9%

Biology

8.5%

Pharmacology

4.3%

Business

4.3%

Management

3.2%

Health Care Administration

3.2%

Veterinary Science

2.1%

Microbiology

2.1%

Animal Science

2.1%

Computer Information Systems

2.1%

Medicine

2.1%

Veterinary Medicine

2.1%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

2.1%

Biotechnology

2.1%

Health Sciences And Services

2.1%

Psychology

1.1%

Public Health

1.1%

Mental Health Counseling

1.1%
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Degrees

Masters

33.6%

Doctorate

22.7%

Bachelors

20.9%

Other

13.6%

Associate

6.4%

Diploma

1.8%

Certificate

0.9%
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Drug Safety Scientist Videos

Drug Injury Lawyer and FDA Drug Safety Board

A Day in the Life of HSA (Corporate Video).mp4

Big Pharma Crony Now In Charge Of Drug Safety

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Real Drug Safety Scientist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Drug Safety Scientist Pharmacyclics, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Jan 05, 2015 $135,000
Drug Safety Scientist Pharmacyclics LLC Sunnyvale, CA Jul 23, 2015 $135,000
Case Evaluator/Drug Safety Scientist (DDS) Starpoint Solutions Montville, NJ Mar 21, 2011 $114,785
Case Evaluator/Drug Safety Scientist (DSS) Starpoint Solutions Montville, NJ Mar 21, 2011 $114,785
PV Scientist/Drug Safety Inventiv Health Clinical, LLC Edison, NJ Sep 19, 2016 $99,840
Scientist I, Drug Discovery Celgene Corporation Bedford, MA Apr 09, 2012 $95,000
Drug Safety Inventiv Health Clinical SRE, LLC South San Francisco, CA Aug 23, 2015 $93,600
Scientist II/Drug Discovery Biologist Lysosomal Therapeutics Inc. Cambridge, MA Sep 08, 2015 $80,000
Scientist II, Drug Discovery Support Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Ridgefield, CT Jun 10, 2011 $76,179
Liposome Drug Delivery Scientist Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Cambridge, MA Jan 07, 2015 $75,105
Drug Discovery Scientist I Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN Jun 20, 2016 $70,000
Scientist II, Nonclinical Drug Safety-Us Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Ridgefield, CT Jul 28, 2016 $67,309 -
$94,300
Scientist II, Nonclinical Drug Safety (AKA Toxicol Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Ridgefield, CT Dec 19, 2011 $67,309 -
$93,000
Drug Discovery Scientist I Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN Feb 23, 2015 $60,000
Drug Discovery Scientist 1 Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN Nov 15, 2010 $60,000
Scientist II, Nonclinical Drug Safety Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Ridgefield, CT Oct 01, 2012 $59,363 -
$93,000
Drug Discovery Scientist I Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN Jun 20, 2016 $58,000

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Top Skills for A Drug Safety Scientist

  1. Clinical Trial Queries
  2. New Safety Database
  3. SOP
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Evaluate and review cases for completeness and accuracy utilizing SOPs prior to locking the cases.
  • Served as a certified trainer for clinical trial case processing for US Drug Safety.
  • Adhered to interdepartmental processes, policy and procedures.
  • Contacted consumers and health care providers as needed for further information concerning clarifications to adverse event reports.
  • Inform Case Processing and Quality, Training & Compliance groups of late cases.

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Top 10 Best States for Drug Safety Scientists

  1. New Jersey
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. Delaware
  4. Connecticut
  5. Maryland
  6. California
  7. Rhode Island
  8. Massachusetts
  9. North Carolina
  10. Virginia
  • (316 jobs)
  • (301 jobs)
  • (18 jobs)
  • (70 jobs)
  • (256 jobs)
  • (1,685 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (870 jobs)
  • (152 jobs)
  • (236 jobs)

Top Drug Safety Scientist Employers

Jobs From Top Drug Safety Scientist Employers

Drug Safety Scientist Videos

Drug Injury Lawyer and FDA Drug Safety Board

A Day in the Life of HSA (Corporate Video).mp4

Big Pharma Crony Now In Charge Of Drug Safety

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