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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 Molecular Biologist
Top Careers After Molecular Biologist
Hispanic or Latino7.9%
Black or African American1.1%
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Johns Hopkins University11.3%
University of California - Davis7.0%
University of Maryland - Baltimore5.6%
Michigan State University5.6%
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville4.2%
University of Idaho4.2%
University of Alabama at Birmingham4.2%
University of Illinois at Chicago4.2%
State University of New York Buffalo4.2%
Texas A&M University4.2%
University of Utah4.2%
University of Arizona4.2%
Ball State University4.2%
University of Texas at San Antonio4.2%
Louisiana State University and A&M College2.8%
University of Northern Colorado2.8%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Assistant Molecular Biologist||General Hospital Corporation||Boston, MA||Jul 17, 2014||$121,935 -
|Assistant Molecular Biologist||General Hospital Corporation||Boston, MA||Jan 06, 2015||$121,935 -
|Molecular Biologist||Dow Agrosciences, LLC||Indianapolis, IN||Oct 01, 2011||$102,588|
|Molecular Biologist||Forge Life Science, LLC||Doylestown, PA||Nov 22, 2012||$100,000|
|Plant Molecular Biologist (SR. Scientist)||R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company||Winston-Salem, NC||Oct 08, 2016||$95,760|
|Molecular Biologist||Pathogenica, Inc.||Cambridge, MA||Oct 01, 2012||$93,644|
|Molecular Biologist||Pathogenica, Inc.||Cambridge, MA||Oct 01, 2012||$92,872|
|Molecular & Cellular Biologist Patent Advisor||Browdy and Neimark, PLLC||Washington, DC||Jan 02, 2013||$90,000|
|Molecular Biologist||Bionascent Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Oct 03, 2016||$90,000|
|Associate Professor/Molecular Biologist||Howard University||Washington, DC||Feb 28, 2011||$90,000|
|Molecular Biologist||Baron Hr, LLC||San Diego, CA||Nov 15, 2012||$89,444|
|Molecular Biologist||Baron Hr, LLC||San Diego, CA||Nov 10, 2012||$89,440|
|Molecular Biologist||JML Benefits Group||San Diego, CA||Aug 22, 2011||$89,440|
|Research Molecular Biologist||USDA, Agricultural Research Service||MS||Jan 03, 2011||$68,809|
|Research Molecular Biologist||Us Department of Agriculture||MS||Jan 03, 2011||$68,809|
|Molecular Biologist||U.S. Department of Agriculture||Beltsville, MD||Aug 31, 2011||$68,712|
|Scientist III, Molecular Biologist||Life Technologies Corporation||Carlsbad, CA||Aug 26, 2016||$68,700 -
|Molecular Biologist||The Omo Group, Inc.||San Antonio, TX||May 07, 2016||$68,000|
|Molecular Biologist||Advanced Proteome Therapeutics, Inc.||Boston, MA||Sep 13, 2014||$64,000|
|Molecular Biologist||Advanced Proteome Therapeutics Inc.||Boston, MA||Sep 12, 2014||$64,000|
|Research Plant Molecular Biologist||United States Department of Agriculture||Fort Pierce, FL||Sep 25, 2012||$63,148|
|Research Molecular Biologist||U.S. Department of Agriculture||Beltsville, MD||Jun 01, 2011||$62,467|
|Research Molecular Biologist||U.S. Department of Agriculture||Beltsville, MD||Oct 21, 2012||$62,457|
|Research Molecular Biologist||U.S. Department of Agriculture||Beltsville, MD||Jun 01, 2012||$62,457|
|Research Molecular Biologist||United States Department of Agriculture||Beltsville, MD||Aug 01, 2011||$62,457|
|Molecular Biologist||ACGT, Inc.||Wheeling, IL||Apr 19, 2016||$62,000|
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