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Become A Scientific Director

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Working As A Scientific Director

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

  • $197,120

    Average Salary

What Does A Scientific Director 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 Scientific Director

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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Scientific Director jobs

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Scientific Director Demographics

Gender

Male

58.5%

Female

36.1%

Unknown

5.4%
Ethnicity

White

77.0%

Asian

12.4%

Hispanic or Latino

7.7%

Unknown

2.5%

Black or African American

0.4%
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Languages Spoken

French

33.3%

Spanish

33.3%

Russian

11.1%

Korean

11.1%

Hebrew

11.1%
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Scientific Director Education

Schools

Johns Hopkins University

8.5%

George Washington University

8.5%

University of South Florida

6.8%

University of California - San Diego

6.8%

Yale University

6.8%

University of Connecticut

5.1%

Temple University

5.1%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

5.1%

Pennsylvania State University

5.1%

University of California - San Francisco

5.1%

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

5.1%

George Mason University

5.1%

University of Florida

3.4%

University of the Sciences

3.4%

University of Pennsylvania

3.4%

Emory University

3.4%

University of California - Los Angeles

3.4%

Ohio State University

3.4%

Boston College

3.4%

University of Missouri - Columbia

3.4%
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Majors

Biology

12.4%

Pharmacy

10.6%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

10.6%

Microbiology

9.9%

Physiology And Anatomy

7.5%

Business

6.8%

Chemistry

6.2%

Pharmacology

5.0%

Medicine

4.3%

Management

3.7%

Public Health

3.1%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

3.1%

Medical Clinical Sciences

3.1%

Psychology

2.5%

Medical Technician

1.9%

Marketing

1.9%

Neuroscience

1.9%

Health Care Administration

1.9%

Clinical Psychology

1.9%

Counseling Psychology

1.9%
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Degrees

Doctorate

54.1%

Masters

17.9%

Other

14.8%

Bachelors

9.2%

Certificate

2.6%

Associate

1.0%

Diploma

0.5%
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Internship
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Real Scientific Director Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Scientific Director Amgen Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA Oct 01, 2012 $230,000
Scientific Director, Reconstructive Transplantatio Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD Feb 15, 2014 $218,700
Scientific Director TCA Cellular Therapy, LLC Covington, LA Dec 01, 2010 $200,000
Scientific Director Max Planck Florida Corporation Jupiter, FL Mar 27, 2012 $185,618
Scientific Director, CTA Program Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD Feb 15, 2011 $185,000
Scientific Director Jones Microbiology Institute, Inc. North Liberty, IA Aug 01, 2011 $185,000
Scientific Affairs Director Parnell Corporate Services Us Inc. Kansas City, MO Apr 24, 2012 $179,583
Scientific Director Letters & Sciences NJ Oct 01, 2012 $174,000
Scientific Director Amgen Inc. CO Mar 01, 2015 $172,720
Scientific Director Amgen Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA May 07, 2012 $170,000
Scientific Affairs Director Parnell Corporate Services Us Inc. Overland Park, KS Apr 24, 2014 $170,000
Scientific Director Amgen Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA Apr 02, 2016 $170,000
Scientific Director, Process Development Amgen Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA Jan 12, 2016 $165,766
Director, Scientific Affairs Novum Pharmaceutical Research Services of Delaware Pittsburgh, PA Jan 02, 2016 $159,120
Director of Scientific Affairs (Scientific Writing Novum Pharmaceutical Research Services of Delaware Pittsburgh, PA Aug 18, 2014 $156,000
Scientific Director Amgen Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA Dec 16, 2009 $155,027
Scientific Director Max Planck Florida Corporation Jupiter, FL Jul 27, 2009 $154,000
Director, Scientific Affairs Novum Pharmaceutical Research Services of Delaware Pittsburgh, PA Oct 01, 2014 $150,000
Director Scientific Affairs Novum Pharmaceutical Research Services of Delaware Pittsburgh, PA Oct 03, 2011 $150,000
Scientific Affairs Director Medicus Group International, Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2010 $150,000
Associate Scientific Director Health Interactions, Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 27, 2010 $125,000
Associate Scientific Director Meditech Media, Ltd. San Francisco, CA Sep 06, 2010 $125,000
Associate Scientific Director Health Interactions, Inc. San Francisco, CA Oct 20, 2010 $125,000
Director of Scientific Discovery Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company Chicago, IL Oct 01, 2009 $123,906 -
$187,000
SR. Scientific Director, Business Innovation Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Inc. Jacksonville, FL Jul 01, 2014 $117,000
SR. Scientific Director, Business Innovation Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Inc. Jacksonville, FL Jan 07, 2014 $117,000
Senior Scientific Director Letters & Sciences NJ Oct 01, 2012 $111,405 -
$174,000
Scientific Director Reprogenetics LLC Livingston, NJ Sep 15, 2015 $110,000

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Top Skills for A Scientific Director

RegulatoryComplianceClinicalTrialsPulmonaryDiseaseLaboratoryKeyOpinionLeadersTherapeuticAreasBusinessDevelopmentFDAMedicalEducationCMEOncologyProceduresClinicalResearchRKolsMedicalAffairsSlideDecksClinicalStudiesPublicationPlanningCNS

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Top Scientific Director Skills

  1. Regulatory Compliance
  2. Clinical Trials
  3. Pulmonary Disease
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • CAP and New York State licensed laboratory.
  • Established collaborative professional relationships with key opinion leaders to ensure scientific accuracy and clinical relevance of programs.
  • Identify and establish enduring relationships with leading health care providers and key opinion leaders across all therapeutic areas.
  • Participated in new business development proposals and presentations
  • Oversee the development of curriculum for a patient advocate training program covering drug development and FDA regulations.

Top Scientific Director Employers

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