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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.
Hispanic or Latino7.1%
Black or African American1.0%
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Average Length of Employment
Johns Hopkins University6.8%
Pennsylvania State University6.4%
University of Florida5.8%
Ohio State University5.6%
Texas A&M University5.2%
University of Pennsylvania4.8%
University of Washington4.8%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology4.7%
University of California - Los Angeles4.6%
University of Texas at Austin4.6%
University of California - San Diego4.5%
University of Arizona4.5%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill4.5%
University of California - Davis4.2%
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor4.1%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Senior Safety Scientist||Genentech Inc.||South San Francisco, CA||Oct 23, 2015||$210,000|
|Senior Scientist||The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia||Philadelphia, PA||Apr 01, 2016||$200,665|
|Senior Scientist III||Universities Space Research Association||Houston, TX||Feb 25, 2015||$199,142|
|Senior Scientist||Haskins Laboratories, Inc.||New Haven, CT||May 14, 2015||$192,776|
|Senior Research Scientist||Nvidia Corporation||Santa Clara, CA||Oct 06, 2016||$190,000 -
|Scientist Senior 11||Kelly Services, Inc.||Bethesda, MD||Jan 25, 2016||$182,091|
|Scientist, Senior 11||Kelly Services, Inc.||Frederick, MD||Aug 17, 2015||$182,091|
|Senior Scientist||General Electric Company-GE Global Research Center||San Ramon, CA||Oct 31, 2016||$180,000|
|Senior Research Scientist||New York University||New York, NY||Jan 09, 2016||$180,000|
|Senior Scientist||Blippar LLC||Mountain View, CA||Sep 11, 2015||$180,000|
|Senior Scientist||Microsoft Corporation||Mountain View, CA||Jul 14, 2015||$177,600|
|Senior Research Scientist||Parallel MacHines, Inc.||Santa Clara, CA||Aug 06, 2015||$175,000|
|Senior Scientist||Genentech, Inc.||South San Francisco, CA||Jun 15, 2016||$109,907 -
|Senior Research Scientist||DCG Systems, Inc.||Fremont, CA||Sep 26, 2015||$109,514|
|Senior Scientist, HPP Process||Sabic Innovative Plastics Us LLC||Vernon, IN||Sep 30, 2016||$108,994|
|Senior Scientist I||Abbvie Inc.||North Chicago, IL||Nov 18, 2016||$108,877|
|Senior Research Scientist||Guttmacher Institute, Inc.||New York, NY||May 16, 2015||$108,623|
|Senior Research Scientist||Electrical Geodesics, Inc.||Eugene, OR||Oct 01, 2015||$108,378|
|Senior Research Scientist, Healthcare Research||NORC||Bethesda, MD||Mar 23, 2016||$108,292 -
|Senior Scientist (Formulation)||Vintage Pharmaceuticals LLC||Huntsville, AL||Feb 10, 2015||$108,150|
|Senior Reearch Scientist I||Albany Molecular Research, Inc.||Albany, NY||Dec 08, 2016||$91,603|
|Senior Scientist||Aerospace Engineering and Research Associates, Inc.||Lanham, MD||Mar 21, 2016||$91,333|
|Senior Scientist||SGT, Inc.||Greenbelt, MD||Oct 01, 2015||$91,187|
|Scientist, SR.||Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Inc.||Norwood, MA||Aug 11, 2015||$91,035|
|SR. Scientist||Theranos, Inc.||Palo Alto, CA||May 15, 2015||$91,000 -
|SR. Scientist||Theranos, Inc.||Palo Alto, CA||Sep 20, 2015||$91,000 -
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Career Advice on becoming a Senior Scientist by Peter W (Full Version)
Non-Traditional Careers for Science Majors | Dr. Dwight Randle | TEDxMountainViewCollege
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