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Become A Staff Scientist

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Working As A Staff Scientist

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

  • $68,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Staff Scientist 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 Staff Scientist

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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Staff Scientist Jobs

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Staff Scientist Career Paths

Staff Scientist
Group Leader Project Manager General Manager
Chief Operating Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Research Coordinator Clinical Research Coordinator
Clinical Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Environmental Specialist Adjunct Professor Research Coordinator
Clinical Research Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Faculty Physician Assistant Clinical Researcher
Clinical Study Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Laboratory Manager Clinical Research Coordinator
Clinical Trial Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Nurse Practitioner Clinical Assistant
Clinical Trials Specialist
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Chemist Senior Scientist Senior Manager
Director Of Analytics
13 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Manager Adjunct Faculty Clinical Manager
Director Of Clinical Operations
13 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Manager Operations Manager Senior Manager
Director Of Quality
14 Yearsyrs
Senior Manager Director Of Information Program Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Manager Controller Project Manager
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Staff Scientist Principal Scientist Associate Director
Medical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Principal Scientist Associate Director Program Director
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Principal Scientist Project Manager Construction Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Group Leader Production Supervisor Operations Manager
President Of Operations
11 Yearsyrs
Associate Director Operations Director Management Consultant
Product Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Consultant Senior Consultant
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Program Manager
Senior Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Chemist Scientist Research Scientist
Senior Research Associate
6 Yearsyrs
Associate Director Adjunct Faculty Assistant Professor
Senior Scientist
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Staff Scientist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Senior Scientist 4.9 years
Research Scientist 3.8 years
Scientist 3.4 years
Staff Scientist 3.0 years
Junior Scientist 2.4 years
Top Employers Before
Fellow 10.4%
Scientist 6.5%
Internship 5.3%
Chemist 2.2%
Instructor 1.8%
Researcher 1.8%
Top Employers After
Scientist 8.7%
Consultant 7.7%
Director 3.3%
Manager 3.2%
Instructor 2.1%

Do you work as a Staff Scientist?

Staff Scientist Demographics

Gender

Male

60.2%

Female

29.4%

Unknown

10.5%
Ethnicity

White

52.3%

Asian

22.4%

Hispanic or Latino

11.3%

Black or African American

9.4%

Unknown

4.7%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

24.5%

Chinese

15.5%

French

11.8%

German

10.9%

Japanese

8.2%

Russian

6.4%

Mandarin

4.5%

Italian

3.6%

Korean

2.7%

Carrier

2.7%

Sami

0.9%

Basque

0.9%

Vietnamese

0.9%

Romanian

0.9%

Hindi

0.9%

Bulgarian

0.9%

Welsh

0.9%

Cantonese

0.9%

Greek

0.9%

Portuguese

0.9%
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Staff Scientist Education

Schools

Pennsylvania State University

12.2%

Purdue University

6.3%

University of California - Los Angeles

5.9%

Johns Hopkins University

5.6%

North Carolina State University

5.3%

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

5.0%

University of Maryland - College Park

5.0%

University of California - San Diego

5.0%

University of Pittsburgh -

5.0%

University of California - Berkeley

4.7%

Harvard University

4.4%

University of Delaware

4.4%

Northeastern University

4.4%

University of California - Irvine

4.1%

University of California - Davis

4.1%

Ohio State University

3.8%

University of Washington

3.8%

University of California - Santa Barbara

3.8%

Drexel University

3.8%

University of Arizona

3.8%
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Majors

Chemistry

19.1%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

13.0%

Environmental Science

10.8%

Biology

10.5%

Geology

6.7%

Microbiology

5.2%

Physics

4.9%

Business

3.6%

Pharmacy

2.7%

Physiology And Anatomy

2.7%

Pharmacology

2.5%

Genetics

2.3%

Electrical Engineering

2.3%

Chemical Engineering

2.3%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

2.2%

Computer Science

2.1%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

1.9%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

1.9%

Materials Science And Engineering

1.8%

Biomedical Engineering

1.5%
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Degrees

Doctorate

38.9%

Bachelors

27.3%

Masters

23.3%

Other

8.0%

Certificate

1.4%

Associate

1.1%

Diploma

0.1%
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Real Staff Scientist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Staff Scientist Linkedin Corporation Mountain View, CA May 28, 2016 $165,006 -
$237,000
Geological Staff Scientist Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Apr 01, 2016 $162,000
Instructor/Staff Scientist I Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Boston, MA Aug 01, 2015 $150,000
Physicist Staff Scientist/Engineer Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Jan 02, 2015 $140,400
Staff Scientist SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Menlo Park, CA Feb 02, 2015 $140,000
Staff Scientist Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Tarrytown, NY Jan 10, 2016 $137,857
Physicist Staff Scientist Engineer Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Jan 10, 2016 $137,508
Staff Scientist Sas Institute Inc. San Diego, CA Nov 07, 2016 $135,000 -
$152,000
Staff Scientist Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Tarrytown, NY Apr 15, 2016 $131,596
Staff Scientist National Institutes of Health, HHS Phoenix, AZ May 15, 2016 $130,000
Staff Scientist Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Tarrytown, NY Aug 13, 2015 $129,000
Staff Scientist National Institutes of Health, HHS Bethesda, MD Jan 02, 2016 $127,000
Staff Scientist Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Tarrytown, NY Mar 09, 2016 $126,998
Staff Scientist National Institutes of Health, HHS Bethesda, MD Feb 26, 2015 $90,822
Electron Microscopy Staff Scientist Purdue University KS Jan 15, 2015 $90,000
Staff Scientist, Biology Takeda California, Inc. San Diego, CA Aug 25, 2015 $90,000 -
$111,000
Staff Scientist The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology Philadelphia, PA Aug 29, 2016 $90,000
Staff Scientist-Microbiology Aiken Biosciences, Inc. San Jose, CA Jan 04, 2016 $90,000
Staff Scientist National Institutes of Health, HHS Hamilton, MT May 29, 2016 $90,000
Core Staff Scientist H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute Tampa, FL Apr 06, 2015 $90,000
Instructor/Staff Scientist Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Boston, MA Jan 07, 2016 $67,500
Staff Scientist The Henry M. Jackson Foundation Bethesda, MD Dec 28, 2015 $66,000
Staff Scientist Lasergen, Inc. Houston, TX Jul 18, 2015 $66,000
Staff Scientist The Salk Institute for Biological Studies San Diego, CA Nov 20, 2016 $66,000
Metabolomics Staff Scientist Donald Danforth Plant Science Center Saint Louis, MO Jan 18, 2016 $65,000
Staff Scientist I Medical University of South Carolina Charleston, SC Sep 22, 2016 $65,000
Staff Scientist The University of Chicago Chicago, IL Jan 07, 2016 $65,000

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Top Skills for A Staff Scientist

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  1. Laboratory
  2. Cell Culture
  3. Water Samples
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Headed the departmental safety team to support corporate efforts towards optimization of laboratory safety.
  • Performed highly complex laboratory tasks, managed cell culture facility, ensured laboratory safety.
  • Collected soil and groundwater samples for laboratory analysis.
  • Validated methods for reduction of plasma protein complexity and enrichment in low abundant proteins.
  • Revised site-specific Health and Safety Plans.

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Top Staff Scientist Employers

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