How would you like to be known as the Scientist who discovers a new drug or a new therapy for the treatment of a disease? How would you like to be the brains behind groundbreaking medical innovations and discoveries? How about developing space-age medical technology, the kind of stuff you see in sci-fi movies? If these words excite you and you are keen to pursue a career in Medical Science, this could be a great option for you.
As a Medical Scientist, you will have to research and develop such medical innovations that help humans lead a better life. You will not only be in charge of discovering new medicinal drugs and vaccines, but you will also have to develop new drug delivery systems and therapeutic methods (treatment procedures). Also, you will have to constantly study, research, and find ways to enhance existing medical techniques, drugs, drug delivery systems, and surgery techniques.
Why become a Medical Scientist?
As a Medical Scientist, your prime responsibility will be to research and help develop medical innovations and discoveries that benefit mankind. You will be required to study various diseases/medical conditions that impact human well-being and the human physiological system. After in-depth research, you will develop newer medical treatment procedures, surgical procedures, therapeutic methods or new drug molecules that can help treat, cure, manage or eradicate diseases or cure and manage injuries. You will be heavily involved with clinical trials to find out the effect of new drugs, clinical procedures, clinical equipment and vaccines on human health.
Basically, your duties will involve designing and discovering new drugs/vaccines; create new drug delivery systems (ways in which drugs are delivered in the human body, such as oral medicines, IV drugs, vaccines, topical creams/ointments, etc.); innovate new medical treatment procedures and therapies that can help identify and fight diseases better; find new ways to use the existing drugs/therapies/drug delivery systems for treating diseases other than the target diseases (for instance, if a drug/vaccine/therapy is designed to treat diabetes, a Medical Scientist could research and find ways to utilize this drug for treating other diseases); find ways to improve the efficacy of existing or newly developed drugs/therapies/drug delivery systems and also how to make them available to the common mass (for example, by making the production process cost-efficient), and discover new surgery techniques, to name a few.
Apart from these primary responsibilities, you will also be required to write clinical trial documentation, drug application reviews, and medical journals and publications.
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Popular specialization in Medical Scientist Career
- Medical Scientist (Biochemistry): Biochemistry is a sub-segment of both Biology and Chemistry. It deals in the study of chemical processes within and relating to all living organisms. Biochemistry focuses on studying and understanding how biological molecules trigger the processes occurring within living cells and between cells and thereby moving on to the much larger field of studies involving tissues, organs, and their structure and functions.
- Medical Scientist (Biostatistics): Biostatistics focuses on the development and application of statistical methods and processes to various Biological phenomena for analysis and understanding. It includes the design of Biological experiments, the documentation and analysis of the outcomes of those experiments, and the interpretation of the findings.
- Medical Scientist (Biomedical Engineering): Biomedical Engineering is a multidisciplinary STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) specialization that integrated Biology and Engineering. It involves the application of both Engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and healthcare processes to enhance treatment procedures (diagnosis, monitoring, therapy) and drug efficacy.
- Medical Scientist (Computational Biology & Bioinformatics): Computational Biology & Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field of study that focuses on developing and applying computational methods like analytical methods, mathematical modelling and simulation to analyze large collections of Biological data (genetic sequences, cell populations,etc.) to discover new Biological predictions.
- Medical Scientist (Immunology): Immunology is a pivotal branch of Biology that deals in the study of immune systems in all organisms. It has found application in various disciplines of medicine, especially in the fields of Psychiatry, Oncology, Rheumatology, Virology, Bacteriology, Parasitology, Dermatology, and even organ transplant.
- Medical Scientist (Toxicology & Environmental Health): Toxicology & Environmental Health is a science that focuses on studying and analyzing the harmful effects of different chemical, biological, and physical agents on all the living organisms within the ecosystem. It not only researches on the exposure of living organisms to toxic agents but also analyzes their impact on the molecular and physiological processes.
- Medical Scientist (Medical Physics): Medical Physics involves the application of concepts, theories, and methods of Physics to the field of medicine or healthcare. Medical physicists work in the healthcare industry where they apply their knowledge of Physics to innovate and develop new medical technologies and radiation-based treatments.
- Medical Scientist (Molecular Cancer Biology): Molecular Cancer Biology deals in the study of the complex regulatory mechanisms that impact/influence mammalian cell growth and to discern how these complex mechanisms are interrupted in malignant cells. Molecular Cancer Biology treads the boundaries of Pharmacology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Genetics, Genomics, and Cell Biology. The combined knowledge of these disciplines helps Molecular Cancer Biologists to understand the underlying growth regulation of the fundamental mechanisms and their transition during tumour progression and metastasis.
- Medical Scientist (Molecular Genetics & Microbiology): Molecular Genetics & Microbiology deals in the study and research on fundamental problems in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. This includes the genetics and biochemistry of bacterial and fungal pathogens and their interaction with host cells; mechanisms of virus entry; the intracellular organization of bacteria; replication patterns; mechanisms of transcriptional regulation; the mode of action of antibiotics and drug resistance, and gene expression.
- Medical Scientist (Neurobiology): Neurobiology is a subdiscipline of Biology and Neuroscience. It focuses on the study of the cells of the nervous system and the organization of these cells into functional circuits that help process information and influences behaviour. More specifically, it studies the structure of the nervous system that includes nerves, the brain, and the spinal cord.
- Medical Scientist (Pathology): Pathology is a branch of medical science that deals in the study and diagnosis of various disease by examining surgically removed organs, tissues (biopsy samples), bodily fluids, and sometimes, even the whole body (autopsy). Also, it examines the causes, mechanisms and extent of diseases.
- Medical Scientist (Pharmacology & Cancer Biology): Pharmacology & Cancer Biology is the science that studies the action of drugs on biological systems. It involves the study of drug action targets, the acting mechanisms of drugs, their therapeutic and toxic effects (if any), and the development of new therapeutic agents.
What does a Medical Scientist do?
- To conduct clinical studies and trials to investigate various human diseases and develop methods of preventive care and treatment.
- To conduct clinical trials on human/non-human volunteers and monitoring the effects of medications/vaccines by testing how the subjects respond to the treatments.
- To carefully record and document the results and outcomes of clinical trials and research for future perusal.
- To analyze medical data and samples (microorganisms like bacteria, viruses; glucose levels in the blood, etc.) and investigate the cause/s of diseases and the effect of pathogens.
- To communicate the results of clinical trials/studies to healthcare professionals, other Medical Researchers/Scientists, and to the medical staff involved in the procedures, to help them diagnose and treat patients better.
- To find ways of mass manufacturing drugs cost-efficiently to reach them to the ordinary people at affordable prices.
- To standardize drug potency and their doses.
- To research and develop advanced instruments/devices for medical applications.
- To discover new drugs/vaccines and new therapies to help enhance the treatment process of various diseases.
- To discover new drug delivery systems and also develop new surgical procedures that are minimally invasive.
- To collaborate with Specialist Doctors, Medical Scientists, and Health Departments to develop medical programs aimed at improving health outcomes.
- To prepare and write research grant proposals to obtain funding from government agencies and/or private funding sources.
- To develop and manage peer review publications and presentations at scientific/medical conferences or seminars.
- To ensure that the standard protocol is maintained at all times throughout the research and discovery process to avoid contamination or hazardous accidents.
How to become a Medical Scientist – eligibility criteria
To become a Medical Scientist, post your MBBS, you must obtain higher qualifications like MD/MS and then a PhD or an MS/MS and then an MCh/DM. If you want to go abroad, then you must complete an MD in the USA and then do a MSTP program (Medical Scientist Training Program) or an FRCS/MRCP/ equivalent qualification in the UK. You can choose to specialise in any of the following medical fields or any other similar fields:
- Bacteriology (Medical)
- Cancer Biology
- Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery
- Cardiovascular Science
- Chest and Pulmonary Diseases
- Clinical Neurophysiology
- Clinical Pharmacology
- Clinical Translational Science & Research Program
- Craniofacial Biology
- Dermatology Venereology and Leprosy
- E.N.T. (Surgery)
- Emergency and Critical Care Medicine
- Endocrine Surgery
- Family Medicine
- Forensic Medicine
- Gastro Intestinal Surgery
- Genito Urinary Surgery
- Genomic Medicine
- Gynaecologic Oncology
- Gynaecology and Obstetrics (Surgery)
- Head and Neck Surgery
- Human Genetics
- Human Physiology
- Immuno Haematology
- Immunology (Medicine Speciality)
- Infectious Disease
- Laboratory Medicine
- Medical Biochemistry
- Medical Bioinformatics
- Medical Biophysics
- Medical Biotechnology
- Medical Epigenomics
- Medical Immunology
- Medical Informatics
- Medical Microbiology
- Medical Pharmacology
- Medical Physiology
- Medical Scientist Training Program
- Molecular Medicine
- Molecular Oncology
- Molecular Pathology
- Molecular Physiology
Becoming a medical scientist in India typically involves obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) followed by a Master’s degree or a PhD in a specific field of medical research. The cost of education can vary depending on the institution and program you choose to pursue.
In general, pursuing an MBBS degree in India can cost anywhere from INR 10-25 lakhs (approximately USD 13,500-34,000) for the entire program. The cost of pursuing a Master’s degree or PhD in medical sciences can vary depending on the institution and the specific field of study. Some institutions offer scholarships or financial aid to students pursuing medical research degrees, so it’s worth researching and exploring these options.
Apart from the cost of education, aspiring medical scientists may also need to consider other expenses such as accommodation, living expenses, textbooks, and research materials. These expenses can also vary depending on the location and the institution.
Overall, pursuing a career in medical research in India can require a significant investment of time and money. However, the field offers many opportunities for research and innovation, and can be a rewarding career path for those who are passionate about advancing medical knowledge and improving healthcare.
You can get the position of a Junior Medical Scientist in:
- Medical research facilities at leading hospitals in the world
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Consulting firms engaged in medical research, drug discovery and drug delivery research.
Apart from these research-oriented roles, you can also go into academics and become an Assistant Professor in a Medical School that has research facilities.
The leading recruiters in this field are hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, independent medical research laboratories, medical schools & universities, and research institutes.
Salary of Medical Scientist
In India, you can get into academics as an Assistant Professor wherein you will earn around Rs. 70,000 – 80,000 per month. Once you get promoted to Associate Professor, you can earn anywhere between Rs. 1,70,000 – 2,10,000 per month. For Professors, the average monthly salary ranges between Rs. 1,90,000 – 2,40,000. You will earn similarly if you work as a Scientist.
If you get a job as a Medical Scientist in a leading hospital in the world, your starting salary will be around US$ 6,000 – 8,000 per month. After 5-6 years, your salary will increase to US$ 10,000 – 12,000 per month. After 8-12 years of experience, your monthly salary will be around US$ 15,000 – 17,000. Once you gain about 15-20 years of experience, your monthly salary will be around US$ 18,000 – 20,000.
Career progression in Medical Science Profession
If you get into the medical research field, you will begin your career as a Fellow and then get promoted to Associate Scientist. The next step of promotion would be to the position of a Scientist. After this, you will gradually climb up the hierarchy as you gain more experience – you will become a Senior Scientist and then, you will upgrade to Principal Scientist. Finally, you will become a Project Director.
If you get into the academic field, you will begin as an Assistant Professor, and then after 8-10 years of service, you will upgrade to the level of Associate Professor. After 10-15 years, you can get promoted to the position of a Professor.
What does industry trends say – future prospects
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook of Medical Scientists is estimated to increase by 13% between 2016 to 2026. An increasingly growing ageing population increased the incidence of chronic conditions, and a growing reliance on medicinal drugs/pharmaceuticals are major contributors to the ever-increasing demand for Medical Scientists. Grand View Research maintains that the global clinical trials market stood at US$ 44.2 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) of 5.7% over the forecast period (2019 -2026). As the medical/healthcare industry continues to advance and expand, the demand for talented Medical Scientists is increasing rapidly.
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