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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 Health Researcher
Top Careers After Health Researcher
Hispanic or Latino11.3%
Black or African American1.2%
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George Washington University7.6%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill7.6%
New York University5.1%
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities5.1%
Johns Hopkins University5.1%
University of Washington3.8%
University of South Carolina - Columbia3.8%
University of Wisconsin Extension3.8%
Georgia State University3.8%
Rochester Institute of Technology3.8%
University of California - Berkeley3.8%
University of Maryland - Baltimore3.8%
Michigan State University3.8%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Director, Health Economics and Outcomes Research||Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.||Marlborough, MA||Dec 15, 2013||$198,520|
|Director, Health Economics and Outcomes Research||Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.||Marlborough, MA||Dec 18, 2012||$192,014|
|Director, Health Economics and Outcomes Research||Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.||Marlborough, MA||Dec 15, 2012||$192,014|
|Director, Health Economics & Outcomes Research||Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.||Marlborough, MA||May 31, 2011||$189,982|
|Director, Health Economics & Outcomes Research||Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc.||South San Francisco, CA||Sep 18, 2013||$175,579|
|Director, Health Economics and Outcomes Research||Baxalta Us Inc.||Burlington, MA||Sep 08, 2016||$164,640|
|Manager, Global Health Economics and Outcomes Research (Heor)||Baxter Healthcare Corporation||Deerfield, IL||Sep 23, 2016||$144,400 -
|Manager, Global Health Economics and Outcomes Research (Heor)||Baxter Healthcare Corporation||Deerfield, IL||Jul 28, 2016||$144,400 -
|Manager, Health Economics and Outcomes Research||Abbvie Inc.||North Chicago, IL||Aug 24, 2016||$143,000|
|Manager, Health Economics & Outcomes Research||Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.||Ridgefield, CT||Nov 22, 2015||$121,700 -
|Manager, Health Economics & Outcomes Research||Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.||Ridgefield, CT||Oct 07, 2013||$120,000 -
|Manager, Health Economics and Outcomes Research||Novo Nordisk Inc.||Plainsboro, NJ||Aug 05, 2014||$120,000|
|Manager, Health Economics & Outcomes Research||Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.||Ridgefield, CT||Mar 07, 2013||$118,000 -
|Manager, Health Economics & Outcomes Research||Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.||Ridgefield, CT||May 02, 2013||$118,000 -
|Director, Economic and Health Policy Research||American Cancer Society, Inc.||Washington, DC||Aug 03, 2015||$117,936 -
|Director, Economic and Health Policy Research||American Cancer Society, Inc.||Washington, DC||Aug 03, 2015||$117,935 -
|Health Services Researcher II||Baylor Research Institute||Dallas, TX||Jan 15, 2016||$117,500|
|Principal Global Health Outcomes Research Associat||Allergan Sales, LLC||Irvine, CA||Aug 29, 2012||$110,000|
|Principal Global Health Outcomes Research Associat||Allergan Sales, LLC||Irvine, CA||Aug 28, 2012||$110,000|
|Manager, Health Economics and Outcomes Research||Abbvie Inc.||North Chicago, IL||Aug 24, 2013||$110,000|
|Principal Global Health Outcomes Strategy & Research Assoc.||Allergan Sales, LLC||Irvine, CA||Aug 24, 2014||$93,912 -
|Principal Global Health Outcomes Strategy & Research Assoc.||Allergan Sales, LLC||Irvine, CA||Aug 25, 2014||$93,912 -
|Health Economics and Outcomes Researcher||Inovalon, Inc.||Bowie, MD||Sep 09, 2016||$93,000 -
|Health Economics Researcher||United Healthcare Services, Inc.||Eden Prairie, MN||Oct 01, 2010||$85,385 -
|Director of Health Economics & Outcomes Research||SIMR, Inc.||Ann Arbor, MI||Sep 20, 2013||$82,500|
|African Health Researcher||International League for Human Rights||New York, NY||Dec 09, 2010||$75,904|
|Health Economics and Outcomes Researcher||Smith Hanley Consulting Group, LLC||Skillman, NJ||Sep 15, 2012||$73,045|
|Health Researcher||PC Medical, LLC||Doral, FL||Sep 01, 2015||$72,002|
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