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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.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Senior Research Fellow||Harvard University||Cambridge, MA||Feb 15, 2016||$250,000 -
|Senior Fellow||SCHRÖDinger, Inc.||New York, NY||Dec 22, 2015||$212,000|
|Tusiad Senior Fellow||The Brookings Institution||Washington, DC||Jan 01, 2016||$150,000 -
|Senior Fellow||The Brookings Institution||Washington, DC||May 13, 2016||$150,000 -
|Senior Fellow||The Brookings Institution||Washington, DC||May 08, 2016||$150,000 -
|Senior Fellow||Center for Cultural and Technical Interchange BETW||Urban Honolulu, HI||Jan 01, 2015||$145,443|
|Senior Research Geophysicist||Ion Geophysical Corporation||Houston, TX||Sep 04, 2015||$140,556|
|Senior Economics Fellow||The Institute for New Economic Thinking, Inc.||New York, NY||Feb 15, 2015||$140,000 -
|Senior Fellow||Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Inc.||Washington, DC||Jul 01, 2015||$132,500|
|Senior Research Geophysicist II||TGS-Nopec Geophysical Company||Houston, TX||Sep 13, 2015||$129,522|
|Senior Researcher I||Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.||Princeton, NJ||Aug 23, 2016||$126,600 -
|Senior Fellow||Purpose Campaigns LLC||New York, NY||Apr 29, 2015||$125,554|
|Senior Research Geophysicist||Schlumberger Technology Corporation||Houston, TX||Aug 16, 2015||$125,000|
|Senior Research Geophysicist||Exxonmobil Upstream Research Company||Spring, TX||Sep 09, 2016||$120,182 -
|Senior Research Fellow||Turkic American Alliance, Inc.||Washington, DC||Sep 21, 2015||$90,376|
|Senior Research Fellow||National Institutes of Health, HHS||Bethesda, MD||Nov 02, 2016||$81,158|
|Senior Research Fellow||National Institutes of Health, HHS||Bethesda, MD||Jan 11, 2015||$80,354|
|Senior Research Fellow||Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences||Seattle, WA||Jan 15, 2016||$78,750|
|Senior Researcher||USG Corporation||Libertyville, IL||Oct 01, 2015||$76,544 -
|Senior Researcher||American Institutes for Research||Washington, DC||Mar 14, 2016||$76,149 -
|Senior Researcher||The Center for Systems Integration||Denver, CO||Jun 13, 2016||$75,000 -
|Senior Fellow||Hudson Institute, Inc.||Washington, DC||Oct 01, 2015||$74,173|
|Researcher, Senior||Healthcore, Inc.||Wilmington, DE||Aug 29, 2016||$56,035 -
|Senior Fellow||University of Washington||Seattle, WA||Mar 16, 2015||$55,800|
|Researcher, SR.||Healthcore, Inc.||Andover, MA||Dec 06, 2016||$55,432 -
|Researcher, Senior||Healthcore, Inc.||Andover, MA||Jan 06, 2016||$55,432 -
|Senior Research Fellow||Mayo Clinic||Rochester, MN||Dec 13, 2016||$55,296|
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