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Become A Research Scholar

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Working As A Research Scholar

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

  • $65,275

    Average Salary

What Does A Research Scholar 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 Research Scholar

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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Research Scholar jobs

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Research Scholar Career Paths

Research Scholar
Senior Scientist Associate Director Program Director
Administrative Director
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Adjunct Faculty Chairperson
Advisory Board Member
6 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Assistant Professor Chairperson
Board Member
6 Yearsyrs
Instructor Program Manager Deputy Program Manager
Branch Chief
9 Yearsyrs
Professor Senior Research Fellow Senior Scientist
Chief Scientist
12 Yearsyrs
Lecturer Research Associate Data Analyst
Data Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Associate Professor Postdoctoral Research Associate Application Scientist
Field Applications Scientist
10 Yearsyrs
Fellow Postdoctoral Research Associate Research Associate
Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Professor Pharmacist Medical Science Liaison
Medical Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Scientist Project Manager Vice President
Principal
11 Yearsyrs
Research Technician Research Scientist Senior Scientist
Principal Research Scientist
10 Yearsyrs
Research Fellow Senior Scientist
Principal Scientist
12 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Project Manager Senior Project Manager
Project Director
8 Yearsyrs
Research Technician Research Specialist Research Analyst
Research Director
7 Yearsyrs
Graduate Researcher Fellow Research Associate
Research Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Lecturer Fellow Research Associate
Research Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Graduate Researcher Instructor Lecturer
Senior Lecturer
7 Yearsyrs
Scientist Senior Scientist
Senior Principal Scientist
12 Yearsyrs
Fellow Research Associate
Senior Research Associate
6 Yearsyrs
Research Fellow Research Scientist
Senior Scientist
9 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Research Scientist 3.8 years
Doctoral Student 3.5 years
PHD Researcher 3.3 years
Research Associate 2.6 years
Research Fellow 2.3 years
Research Assistant 1.7 years
Researcher 1.5 years
Research Scholar 1.0 years
Research Volunteer 0.9 years
Research Trainee 0.9 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 12.1%
Researcher 5.0%
Volunteer 3.5%
Lecturer 3.0%
Instructor 2.4%
Tutor 2.0%
Top Employers After
Internship 8.9%
Fellow 5.5%
Researcher 3.1%
Scientist 2.5%
Instructor 2.4%
Consultant 2.3%
Volunteer 2.1%
Lecturer 2.0%

Research Scholar Demographics

Gender

Male

47.3%

Female

42.3%

Unknown

10.4%
Ethnicity

White

56.2%

Asian

28.0%

Hispanic or Latino

9.5%

Unknown

5.4%

Black or African American

0.9%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

26.7%

French

11.2%

Chinese

10.6%

Mandarin

9.3%

German

8.7%

Japanese

5.6%

Hindi

3.7%

Russian

3.7%

Korean

3.1%

Cantonese

3.1%

Portuguese

2.5%

Italian

1.9%

Vietnamese

1.2%

Marathi

1.2%

Ukrainian

1.2%

Turkish

1.2%

Catalan

1.2%

Bengali

1.2%

Romanian

1.2%

Urdu

1.2%
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Research Scholar Education

Schools

Pennsylvania State University

8.3%

University of Iowa

7.7%

Lafayette College

6.4%

George Mason University

6.4%

University of Delaware

5.8%

University of Florida

5.1%

University of Pennsylvania

5.1%

Lehigh University

5.1%

Carnegie Mellon University

5.1%

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

5.1%

Drexel University

4.5%

Oklahoma State University

4.5%

North Carolina State University

3.8%

Emory University

3.8%

Oregon State University

3.8%

University of California - Los Angeles

3.8%

State University of New York Buffalo

3.8%

Case Western Reserve University

3.8%

University of Missouri - Columbia

3.8%

Johns Hopkins University

3.8%
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Majors

Biology

10.4%

Chemistry

9.8%

Mechanical Engineering

8.1%

Electrical Engineering

7.7%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

7.5%

Chemical Engineering

5.8%

Physics

5.5%

Psychology

5.1%

Computer Science

4.9%

Microbiology

4.5%

Biomedical Engineering

4.3%

Materials Science And Engineering

3.4%

Pharmacy

3.2%

Environmental Science

3.0%

Statistics

3.0%

Political Science

3.0%

Public Health

2.8%

Civil Engineering

2.8%

Computer Engineering

2.8%

Physiology And Anatomy

2.6%
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Degrees

Doctorate

38.8%

Bachelors

26.4%

Masters

26.0%

Other

6.0%

Certificate

2.3%

Associate

0.4%
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Real Research Scholar Salaries

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 02, 2015 $162,850
SR. Research Scholar Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Washington, DC Aug 01, 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
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
Research Scholar The Trustees of Princeton University Princeton, NJ Jan 09, 2016 $115,000
Senior Research Scholar The Board of Trustees of The Leland Stanford, Jr. Stanford, CA May 25, 2013 $109,445
Research Scholar North Carolina State University Asheville, NC Jul 01, 2013 $106,715
Research Scholar Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center New York, NY Apr 02, 2013 $65,856
Research Scholar Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center New York, NY Jan 04, 2015 $65,000
Research Scholar North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC Aug 31, 2016 $64,196
Research Scholar North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC May 01, 2015 $64,196
Research Scholar New York University New York, NY Sep 01, 2013 $64,000
Research Scholar Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center New York, NY Feb 15, 2013 $63,592
Research Scholar/Elmezzi Scholar The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Manhasset, NY Mar 02, 2016 $62,500
Research Scholar/Elmezzi Scholar The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Manhasset, NY Feb 03, 2013 $62,500
Research Scholar North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC Jul 15, 2013 $51,591
Research Scholar Duke University and Medical Center Durham, NC Jan 01, 2015 $51,106
Research Scholar Duke University and Medical Center Durham, NC Aug 01, 2015 $51,096
Post DOC Research Scholar North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC Jan 01, 2014 $51,000
Senior Research Scholar North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC May 01, 2015 $50,482
Research Scholar Duke University and Medical Center Durham, NC Jan 09, 2016 $50,112

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Top Skills for A Research Scholar

LabResearchProjectUndergraduateResearchCellCultureScholarshipLaboratoryPosterPresentationMolecularBiologyDNAGeneSynthesisSymposiumProteinRt-PcrChemistryAdvisorDataAnalysisRNAResearchPaperE

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Top Research Scholar Skills

  1. Lab
  2. Research Project
  3. Undergraduate Research
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Oriented new researches to the lab, while acting as part of a team whose members came from four countries.
  • Research Project title: Extending the time-series of satellite based lightning observations.
  • Trained undergraduate research assistants to follow study protocol.
  • Created and maintained active leukemia cell cultures to be used in analytical tests.
  • Selected from >1,000 applicants to receive one of 8 Stokes Scholarships: full undergraduate tuition and stipend.

Top Research Scholar Employers

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Research Scholar Videos

Neha Gadekar Bobde, Research Scholar, India

Think Swiss Research Scholars: Katie Peige

Inauguration of Research Scholar Day 2015.

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