Medical Scientist  What They Do

Just the Facts


Conducts research dealing with the understanding of human diseases and the improvement of human health. Engages in clinical investigation, research and development, or other related activities.

This career is part of the Health Science cluster Biotechnology Research and Development pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Plans and directs studies to investigate human or animal disease, preventive methods, and treatments for disease.
  • Conducts research to develop methodologies, instrumentation, and procedures for medical application, analyzing data and presenting findings to the scientific audience and general public.
  • Studies animal and human health and physiological processes.
  • Follows strict safety procedures when handling toxic materials to avoid contamination.
  • Writes and publishes articles in scientific journals.
  • Evaluates effects of drugs, gases, pesticides, parasites, and microorganisms at various levels.
  • Uses equipment such as atomic absorption spectrometers, electron microscopes, flow cytometers, and chromatography systems.
  • Prepares and analyzes organ, tissue, and cell samples to identify toxicity, bacteria, or microorganisms or to study cell structure.
  • Standardizes drug dosages, methods of immunization, and procedures for manufacture of drugs and medicinal compounds.
  • Investigates cause, progress, life cycle, or mode of transmission of diseases or parasites.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposed to hazardous situations involving possible injury such as cuts, bites, stings, and minor burns more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Clinical Laboratory Scientist -- Performs lab tests that doctors use to diagnose and address patients' health issues.
  • Clinical Research Scientist -- Responsible for the designing, implementing, and undertaking clinical trials during the research process.
  • Endocrinologist -- Diagnoses and treats diseases and disorders involving glands or internal secretions.
  • Gerontologist -- Studies the affects of aging on humans, often working with the elderly to make the aging process easier, both physically and emotionally.
  • Nanotechnologist -- Designs and manipulates structures at the atomic and subatomic level to create materials and devices of increased durability and efficiency.
  • Neuroscientist -- Specializes in the study of the brain.
  • Toxicologist -- Researches and studies the effects of toxic substances on physiological functions of humans, animals, and plants. Uses computers to record and analyze data.