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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Research Scholar
Top Careers After Research Scholar
Hispanic or Latino9.5%
Black or African American0.9%
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Pennsylvania State University8.3%
University of Iowa7.7%
George Mason University6.4%
University of Delaware5.8%
University of Florida5.1%
University of Pennsylvania5.1%
Carnegie Mellon University5.1%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill5.1%
Oklahoma State University4.5%
North Carolina State University3.8%
Oregon State University3.8%
University of California - Los Angeles3.8%
State University of New York Buffalo3.8%
Case Western Reserve University3.8%
University of Missouri - Columbia3.8%
Johns Hopkins University3.8%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Social Science Research Scholar||The Board of Trustees of The Leland Stanford, Jr. University||Stanford, CA||Nov 14, 2016||$200,000|
|SR. Research Scholar||Carnegie Endowment for International Peace||Washington, DC||Aug 01, 2015||$162,850|
|SR. Research Scholar||Carnegie Endowment for International Peace||Washington, DC||Aug 02, 2015||$162,850|
|Senior Research Scholar||The Trustees of Princeton University||Princeton, NJ||Jan 07, 2016||$153,500|
|Research Scholar||Columbia University||New York, NY||Jan 12, 2015||$145,000|
|Senior Research Scholar||Columbia University||New York, NY||May 01, 2015||$130,000|
|Postdoctoral Research Scholar||Columbia University||New York, NY||Jan 07, 2016||$125,000|
|Senior Research Scholar||Columbia University||New York, NY||Jan 08, 2016||$124,000|
|Senior Research Scholar||Columbia University||New York, NY||Jan 08, 2016||$120,750|
|Visiting Research Scholar||The Trustees of Princeton University||Princeton, NJ||Jan 09, 2016||$120,000|
|Research Scholar||The Trustees of Princeton University||Princeton, NJ||Jan 09, 2016||$115,000|
|Research Scholar||San Diego Public Library Foundation||San Diego, CA||Aug 07, 2016||$105,352|
|Postdoctoral Research Scholar||The University of Iowa||Iowa City, IA||Jan 10, 2016||$58,580|
|Postdoctoral Research Scholar||The University of Iowa||Iowa City, IA||Nov 26, 2015||$58,580|
|Research Scholar||Bard College||New York, NY||Sep 08, 2015||$58,034|
|Postdoctoral Research Scholar||Vanderbilt University||Nashville, TN||Jan 09, 2016||$58,000|
|Research Scholar||National Institute of Aerospace Associates||Hampton, VA||Jan 08, 2016||$58,000|
|Research Scholar||North Carolina State University||Raleigh, NC||Jan 01, 2016||$57,886|
|Postdoctoral Research Scholar||The University of Iowa||Iowa City, IA||Jul 01, 2016||$57,504|
|Postdoctoral Research Scholar||Vanderbilt University||Nashville, TN||Jul 01, 2015||$51,000|
|Associate Research Scholar||The Trustees of Princeton University||Princeton, NJ||Sep 01, 2015||$50,800|
|Postdoctoral Research Scholar||The University of Iowa||Iowa City, IA||Feb 17, 2015||$50,500|
|Senior Research Scholar||North Carolina State University||Raleigh, NC||May 01, 2015||$50,482|
|Postdoctoral Research Scholar||The University of Iowa||Iowa City, IA||Jan 01, 2016||$50,112|
|Research Scholar||Duke University and Medical Center||Durham, NC||Jan 09, 2016||$50,112|
|Postdoctoral Research Scholar (Post DOC)||The University of Iowa||Iowa City, IA||Sep 01, 2015||$50,112|
|Research Scholar||Eastern Virginia Medical School||Norfolk, VA||Aug 31, 2015||$50,112|
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Duke University and Medical Center
Steadman Philippon Research Institute
Neha Gadekar Bobde, Research Scholar, India
Think Swiss Research Scholars: Katie Peige
Inauguration of Research Scholar Day 2015.