Where do you want to work?
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.
Hispanic or Latino7.4%
Black or African American1.0%
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Average Length of Employment
Johns Hopkins University8.1%
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor6.4%
University of Texas at Austin5.9%
University of Florida5.4%
University of Pittsburgh -5.3%
Pennsylvania State University4.5%
University of Pennsylvania4.4%
University of Iowa4.4%
University of Southern California4.3%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill4.2%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Research Fellow, Economic Policy||American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research||Washington, DC||May 24, 2016||$165,000|
|Research Fellow, Economic Policy||American Enterprise Insitutue for Public Policy Research||Washington, DC||Jun 07, 2016||$140,000|
|Research Fellow||Public Policy Institute of California||San Francisco, CA||Jan 01, 2016||$120,016|
|Research Fellow||Actavis Laboratories Fl, Inc.||Weston, FL||Apr 19, 2016||$111,176 -
|Postd Research Fellow/LEO Intermittent Lecturer||University of Michigan||Ann Arbor, MI||Jan 09, 2016||$107,500|
|Cardiovascular Research Fellow||Spectrum Health Hospitals||Grand Rapids, MI||Jul 01, 2015||$100,000|
|Research Fellow||5Blades Inc.||New York, NY||Aug 10, 2015||$100,000|
|Research Fellow||Guggenheim Insurance Services, LLC||New York, NY||Feb 23, 2015||$99,425 -
|Research Fellow||National Institutes of Health, HHS||Bethesda, MD||Jun 14, 2015||$97,218|
|Research Fellow||Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, Inc.||Washington, DC||Apr 01, 2015||$95,000|
|Research Fellow||National Institutes of Health, HHS||Bethesda, MD||Dec 27, 2016||$95,000|
|Research Fellow||The Clay Mathematics Institute, Inc.||Providence, RI||Feb 01, 2015||$94,494 -
|Postdoctoral Research Fellow||Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center||New York, NY||Jan 09, 2016||$54,972|
|Postdoctoral Research Fellow||Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore, MD||Nov 22, 2016||$54,886|
|LEO Lecturer I/Research Fellow||University of Michigan||Ann Arbor, MI||Jan 09, 2016||$54,641|
|Postdoctoral Research Fellow||Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center||New York, NY||Nov 15, 2016||$54,636|
|Research Fellow||National Institutes of Health, HHS||Bethesda, MD||May 01, 2015||$54,606|
|Research Fellow||Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center||New York, NY||Apr 01, 2015||$54,600|
|Postdoctoral Research Fellow||Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center||New York, NY||Jan 03, 2016||$54,600|
|Postdoctoral Research Fellow||University of Michigan||Ann Arbor, MI||Jan 12, 2016||$48,216|
|Post-Doctoral Research Fellow||Baylor Research Institute||Dallas, TX||Jan 03, 2016||$48,214|
|Research Fellow||Brigham and Women's Hospital||Boston, MA||Sep 01, 2015||$48,214|
|Research Fellow||Brigham and Women's Hospital||Boston, MA||Sep 01, 2015||$48,212|
|Postdoctoral Research Fellow||Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center||Seattle, WA||Jan 12, 2016||$48,205|
|Research Fellow||Joslin Diabetes Center||Boston, MA||Jan 02, 2016||$48,194|
|Research Fellow||Harvard University||Boston, MA||Jul 15, 2016||$48,192|
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