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Become A Medical Science Liaison

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Working As A Medical Science Liaison

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

  • $129,416

    Average Salary

What Does A Medical Science Liaison 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 Medical Science Liaison

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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Do you work as a Medical Science Liaison?

Medical Science Liaison Jobs

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Medical Science Liaison Demographics

Gender

Female

56.8%

Male

40.9%

Unknown

2.3%
Ethnicity

White

59.0%

Hispanic or Latino

15.3%

Black or African American

11.8%

Asian

9.8%

Unknown

4.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

41.7%

French

8.3%

Arabic

8.3%

Russian

6.3%

Chinese

4.2%

German

4.2%

Japanese

4.2%

Mandarin

4.2%

Tamil

4.2%

Swedish

2.1%

Estonian

2.1%

Romanian

2.1%

Telugu

2.1%

Cantonese

2.1%

Greek

2.1%

Hindi

2.1%
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Medical Science Liaison Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

14.8%

University of Florida

6.3%

American University

6.3%

New York University

5.5%

University of Southern California

5.5%

University of the Sciences

4.7%

Howard University

4.7%

Villanova University

4.7%

Ohio State University

4.7%

George Washington University

3.9%

Case Western Reserve University

3.9%

Wayne State University

3.9%

Saint Louis University-

3.9%

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences

3.9%

University of California - Irvine

3.9%

Duquesne University

3.9%

University of Missouri - Kansas City

3.9%

University of Maryland - Baltimore

3.9%

University of Connecticut

3.9%

Harvard University

3.9%
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Majors

Pharmacy

16.8%

Nursing

14.9%

Business

13.8%

Medicine

7.0%

Health Care Administration

6.8%

Biology

6.0%

Marketing

4.3%

Psychology

3.9%

Management

3.6%

Physiology And Anatomy

2.9%

Public Health

2.6%

Medical Technician

2.4%

Education

2.2%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

2.1%

Clinical Psychology

2.1%

Social Work

1.9%

Pharmacology

1.9%

General Studies

1.7%

Human Services

1.7%

Communication

1.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

25.2%

Masters

24.3%

Doctorate

22.4%

Other

18.5%

Associate

4.6%

Certificate

4.0%

Diploma

0.9%

License

0.1%
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Real Medical Science Liaison Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
AD, Medical Science Liaison FBM (TA) Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Walnut Creek, CA Apr 05, 2012 $171,038
Medical Science Liaison, Hematology Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Cambridge, MA Nov 15, 2016 $170,000
SR. Regional Medical Liaison Amgen Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA Aug 15, 2016 $160,000
SR. Medical Science Liaison Genentech, Inc. South San Francisco, CA Jun 12, 2015 $158,142 -
$246,600
Medical Science Liaison Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercializat Princeton, NJ Oct 01, 2014 $155,000
AD, Medical Science Liaison FBM (TA) Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Ridgefield, CT Feb 05, 2016 $154,380 -
$170,520
Medical Science Liaison Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. Princeton, NJ Jul 01, 2015 $152,714 -
$160,000
Regional Medical Liason Trinet Pharma, LLC Frisco, TX Jan 12, 2015 $147,389 -
$170,000
Senior Medical Science Liaison Baxalta Us Inc. Highlands Ranch, CO Dec 12, 2016 $145,000
Senior Medical Science Liaison Baxalta Us Inc. Highlands Ranch, CO Dec 19, 2016 $145,000
Senior Medical Science Liaison Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Cheshire, CT Aug 22, 2014 $144,400 -
$192,500
Medical Science Liaison Bestmsls, Inc., A Nevada Corporation Seattle, WA Dec 01, 2014 $142,500
Medical Science Liaison Genentech, Inc. San Marcos, CA Apr 30, 2012 $142,000
Medical Science Liaison Genentech, Inc. South San Francisco, CA Jun 11, 2012 $142,000
Medical Science Liaison, FBM (TA) Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Cincinnati, OH Feb 18, 2016 $141,000 -
$171,670
Medical Science Liaison, FBM (TA) Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Cincinnati, OH Oct 01, 2014 $140,860 -
$151,670
Senior Medical Science Liaison Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. MD Aug 15, 2011 $140,000
AD, Medical Science Liaison FBM (TA) Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Walnut Creek, CA Oct 05, 2012 $139,693 -
$171,038
Senior Medical Science Liaison Fresenius USA Marketing, Inc., A Fresenius Medical Care N.A. Company Walnut Creek, CA Dec 09, 2016 $138,689
Senior Medical Science Liaison Genzyme Corporation San Francisco, CA Oct 01, 2011 $137,946 -
$140,768
Medical Science Liaison Silicon Valley Medical Imaging Inc. Fremont, CA May 02, 2013 $135,000
Medical Science Liaison Silicon Valley Medical Imaging Inc. Fremont, CA May 09, 2013 $135,000
Medical Science Liaison, FBM, TA Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Ridgefield, CT May 02, 2013 $133,531 -
$155,650
Medical Science Liaison Roche Laboratories, Inc. South San Francisco, CA Oct 01, 2011 $131,613
Medical Science Liaison FBM (TA) Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Denver, CO Apr 05, 2012 $131,380 -
$149,430
Medical Science Liaison TEVA Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. Frazer, PA Jul 21, 2014 $130,000 -
$180,000
Medical Science Liaison MDEA, Inc. New York, NY Dec 15, 2011 $130,000
Medical Science Liaison MDEA, Inc. New York, NY Dec 01, 2011 $130,000
Medical Science Liaison EMD Serono, Inc. Rockland, MA Dec 01, 2014 $129,489
Medical Science Liaison Agnovos Healthcare USA LLC New York, NY Jan 06, 2014 $125,000 -
$225,000

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Top Skills for A Medical Science Liaison

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  1. Clinical Trials
  2. Key Opinion Leaders
  3. Disease
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Collected site and investigator information and recommended sites for King Pharmaceuticals' sponsored clinical trials.
  • Reviewed images with radiologists, cardiologists, and other various key opinion leaders to ensure optimal image quality and protocol development.
  • Identify and maximize relationships with infectious disease, oncology, pulmonary and surgery physicians as Key Opinion leaders.
  • Acted as the Medical Liaison to the regulatory department, making sure that regulatory information was relayed to the MSL team.
  • Managed areas of increasing responsibility in both Commercial and Medical Affairs.

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Top 10 Best States for Medical Science Liaisons

  1. Delaware
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. California
  4. New Jersey
  5. Nevada
  6. Minnesota
  7. Maryland
  8. Virginia
  9. Arkansas
  10. Rhode Island
  • (13 jobs)
  • (182 jobs)
  • (668 jobs)
  • (56 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (94 jobs)
  • (56 jobs)
  • (127 jobs)
  • (24 jobs)
  • (8 jobs)

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Medical Science Liaison Videos

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