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Become A Post Doctoral Researcher

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Working As A Post Doctoral Researcher

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

  • $54,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Post Doctoral Researcher 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 Post Doctoral Researcher

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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Post Doctoral Researcher jobs

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Post Doctoral Researcher Career Paths

Post Doctoral Researcher
Assistant Professor Program Director
Administrative Director
8 Yearsyrs
Post-Doctoral Scientist Research Associate Clinical Research Coordinator
Clinical Research Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Instructor Specialist Data Analyst
Data Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Assistant Professor Program Manager Senior Manager
Director Of Analytics
13 Yearsyrs
Instructor Lecturer Research Associate
Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Research Associate Scientist
Lead Scientist
8 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Senior Scientist
Principal Scientist
12 Yearsyrs
Research Associate Project Manager Senior Project Manager
Project Director
8 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Co-Owner Construction Manager
Quality Control Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Research And Development Manager
Research And Development Director
12 Yearsyrs
Scientist Senior Scientist
Research And Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Project Manager Product Manager
Research And Development Technician
6 Yearsyrs
Post-Doctoral Scientist Research Scientist Senior Scientist
Research Director
7 Yearsyrs
Associate Research Scientist Scientist Research Scientist
Research Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Professor Research Associate
Research Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Research Associate Chemist
Senior Chemist
7 Yearsyrs
Scientist Research Scientist
Senior Research Associate
6 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Assistant Professor
Senior Scientist
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Research Associate Assistant Professor Senior Scientist
Study Director
7 Yearsyrs
Staff Scientist Senior Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Research And Development
12 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Senior Scientist 4.9 years
Research Scientist 3.8 years
Doctoral Student 3.5 years
Staff Scientist 3.4 years
PHD Researcher 3.3 years
Doctoral Fellow 3.1 years
Research Fellow 2.3 years
Fellow 1.7 years
Researcher 1.5 years
Research Trainee 0.9 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 6.5%
Researcher 2.5%
Scientist 2.0%
Instructor 1.9%
Lecturer 1.7%
Fellow 1.7%
Top Employers After
Scientist 7.7%
Consultant 4.4%
Instructor 3.8%
Lecturer 2.2%
Researcher 2.2%

Post Doctoral Researcher Demographics

Gender

Male

55.1%

Female

30.6%

Unknown

14.3%
Ethnicity

White

52.9%

Asian

34.4%

Hispanic or Latino

6.8%

Unknown

4.9%

Black or African American

1.0%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

19.1%

French

12.4%

Chinese

11.2%

German

10.1%

Russian

5.6%

Japanese

5.1%

Mandarin

4.5%

Italian

3.9%

Portuguese

3.9%

Korean

3.4%

Hebrew

3.4%

Hindi

2.8%

Arabic

2.8%

Turkish

2.2%

Carrier

2.2%

Persian

2.2%

Polish

1.7%

Dutch

1.1%

Danish

1.1%

Vietnamese

1.1%
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Post Doctoral Researcher Education

Schools

Ohio State University

9.9%

Texas A&M University

8.0%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

6.9%

Purdue University

6.9%

University of Florida

6.7%

Iowa State University

5.6%

Pennsylvania State University

4.8%

North Carolina State University

4.3%

Arizona State University

4.3%

University of California - San Diego

4.3%

University of Texas at Austin

4.3%

University of California - Irvine

4.0%

University of Illinois University Administration

4.0%

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

3.7%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

3.7%

Michigan State University

3.7%

University of Washington

3.7%

Carnegie Mellon University

3.7%

University of California - Davis

3.7%

Cornell University

3.7%
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Majors

Chemistry

22.5%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

11.4%

Physics

8.5%

Chemical Engineering

7.3%

Biology

6.0%

Mechanical Engineering

5.6%

Microbiology

5.1%

Electrical Engineering

4.5%

Materials Science And Engineering

3.6%

Materials Sciences

3.1%

Pharmacy

3.0%

Biomedical Engineering

2.6%

Pharmacology

2.5%

Computer Engineering

2.3%

Computer Science

2.2%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

2.2%

Genetics

2.2%

Neuroscience

2.0%

Civil Engineering

1.9%

Physiology And Anatomy

1.6%
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Degrees

Doctorate

81.7%

Masters

9.2%

Other

4.9%

Bachelors

3.0%

Certificate

0.8%

Associate

0.3%
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Internship
Temporary

Real Post Doctoral Researcher Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Post DOC Researcher Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Sep 16, 2016 $139,000
Post Doctoral Research Scientist Groupm Worldwide LLC New York, NY May 08, 2016 $120,000
Post-Doctoral Researcher-AMD Research Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Sep 17, 2016 $114,358 -
$125,800
Post Doctoral Research Associate University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester, MA Jan 11, 2015 $100,000
Post Doctoral Researcher IBM Corporation Yorktown Heights, NY Jul 06, 2016 $98,100 -
$270,100
Post-Doctoral Research Associate The University of Georgia Aiken, SC Jan 07, 2016 $86,665
Post-Doctoral Researcher Rowan University PA Jan 09, 2016 $84,528
Post-Doctoral Researcher Rowan University PA Jan 12, 2016 $84,528
Post-Doctoral Researcher-AMD Research Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Austin, TX Dec 09, 2016 $80,200 -
$130,400
Post Doctoral Researcher Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC Livermore, CA Mar 14, 2016 $78,125 -
$94,560
Post Doctoral Researcher Dow Agrosciences, LLC Indianapolis, IN Aug 25, 2015 $75,000
Post-Doctoral Researcher Caris Science, Inc. Phoenix, AZ Aug 16, 2016 $75,000
Post-Doctoral Research Associate The University of Tennessee Knoxville, TN Nov 01, 2016 $72,000
Post Doctoral Research Associate Purdue University West Lafayette, IN Jun 06, 2016 $49,994
Post Doctoral Research Associate University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, MA Jun 15, 2015 $49,862
Post Doctoral Research Scientist Columbia University New York, NY Feb 01, 2015 $49,850
Post Doctoral Researcher The Ohio State University Columbus, OH Jan 04, 2015 $49,817
Post Doctoral Researcher The Ohio State University Columbus, OH Apr 01, 2015 $49,817
Post Doctoral Research Associate Purdue University West Lafayette, IN Jan 06, 2016 $49,500
Post-Doctoral Research Associate Northeastern University Boston, MA Feb 02, 2016 $49,500 -
$59,000
Post Doctoral Researcher The Ohio State University Columbus, OH Jan 07, 2016 $49,464
Post Doctoral Research Associate Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso El Paso, TX Jan 02, 2016 $44,880
Post Doctoral Researcher Syracuse University Syracuse, NY Jan 10, 2016 $44,802
Post-Doctoral Research Associate Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY Dec 12, 2016 $44,720 -
$54,720
Post-Doctoral Research Associate The University of Tennessee Knoxville, TN Jan 09, 2016 $44,658
Post Doctoral Research Associate The University of Akron Akron, OH Aug 01, 2015 $44,658
Post-Doctoral Research Associate The University of Tennessee Knoxville, TN Sep 01, 2016 $44,658
Post Doctoral Researcher Trustees of The University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA Jan 06, 2016 $44,556
Post Doctoral Research Associate Old Dominion University Research Foundation Danville, VA Feb 08, 2015 $44,500

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Top Skills for A Post Doctoral Researcher

CellCultureLaboratoryTechniquesLabProteinExpressionChemistrySynthesisMolecularBiologyResearchProjectsPost-DoctoralResearcherElectronMicroscopySpectroscopyDNADataAnalysisAdvisorPhysicsCellLinesJournalArticlesNMRGeneExpression

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Top Post Doctoral Researcher Skills

  1. Cell Culture
  2. Laboratory
  3. Techniques
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Experience working with MP-12 strain (BSL-2) of Rift Valley Fever in cell culture.
  • Managed the daily operation of the mechanical testing and evaluation laboratory in the mechanical engineering department.
  • Developed techniques for detection of deletions in mutant population.
  • Collaborated with research scientists in the design, writing and submission of grants to NIH and other funding sources.
  • Supervised and trained technicians in protein expression and purification.

Top Post Doctoral Researcher Employers

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