Medical Scientists

Last updated December 31, 2014

The world’s population has grown exponentially -- from small scatterings of people to giant cities with millions of residents living side by side.

While living in large groups has its advantages, one disadvantage is that it allows diseases to spread more easily. And now, with the entire world connected by airplanes, contagious illnesses can spread across the ocean from one continent to another. Medical scientists do the research needed in the fight against disease.

Medical scientists conduct research on diseases, and on the viruses and bacteria that cause them, to develop vaccines and medications.

Did You Know?

While some medical scientists do research in labs, others work directly with patients, giving them new drugs and monitoring their health during trials. To do so, you’ll need to attend medical school.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Develop new vaccines, medicines, tests, or surgical procedures
  • Look for the causes of illness and disease
  • Work with cutting-edge equipment, such as electron microscopes
  • Work as part of a team with other professionals such as engineers, businesspeople, and scientists in other disciplines
  • Work regular hours, either in an office or a laboratory

It Helps To Be...

Good at science and math and interested in the fight against illness. You’ll also need to be patient since it takes a lot of trial and error in the lab to reach that eureka moment.

Make High School Count

  • Take advanced science and math classes in biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus.
  • Build writing skills in English and other classes. You’ll need to write grant proposals for funding as well as reports on your research.
  • Learn how to work on computers, because medical scientists use them to analyze data and conduct research
  • Try out for the Biology Olympiad.
  • Keep up with the latest in health news. For example, check out Health eLine on the Reuters Health website.

Did You Know?

Medical scientists often write grants to receive funding for their projects from agencies like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.