Research careers

Medical [research] scientists, or simply researchers, study and conduct research in any number of scientific fields, anywhere from Biology, to Chemistry, to Pharmacology, to Nutrition, to Pathology, to Microbiology, to Toxicology (a subdivision of Pharmacology that studies the toxic effects of drugs and other substances) , etc. Research Scientists conduct their research by running a plethora of clinical trials on various tests subjects in order to find new, cutting-edge treatments, drugs, and vaccines to cure, better manage, and/or prevent current diseases. They tend to work in R&D (Research & Development) laboratories in universities, pharmaceutical companies, government laboratories, hospitals, etc. “Medical scientists that run a clinical trial have to interview patients and go through their medical histories. Afterwards, they decide which patients go into what testing group. One group is typically offered the trial medication while the other is offered a placebo; however, this is not always the case... After that step is completed, the medical scientist observes any change in their health and behavior, then reports it.” All findings and results, from each and every trial, are meticulously recorded in technical write-ups (reports).

The general requirement to become a medical scientist, or researcher, is attaining a PhD in Biological Sciences. In order to get a PhD in Biological Sciences, one must first pass the 10+2 exam in the Science stream, followed by completing a Bachelor of Science in either Biology or another medical health-related field of study, followed by a graduate degree such as a Master of Science (M.Sc) in a Biological science, Earth Science, Chemistry, Mathematics, or Physics. It is also possibly to get into a PhD program in Biological Sciences with a B.Tech (Bachelor of Technology) degree, an M.Tech (Master of Technology) degree, an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree, or an MCA (Master of Computer Applications) degree. An alternative option to getting a PhD in a Biological science is getting an MD instead, and choosing to use it to become a researcher rather than a physician. It’s worth noting however that since any and all medical interactions with a patient/human test subject on the part of the medical scientist (such as drawing blood, administering drugs, excising tissue, etc) requires a physician’s license - which can only be attained by graduating from an accredited medical school, passing a license examination, and 1-7 years of graduate medical education - it is much more efficient and professionally beneficial to earn both a PhD and an MD. Combined MD-PhD programs are available in some medical schools; they usually require 7-8 years of study, while a PhD program requires 6 years.

Since the pursuit of a medical scientist/researcher position requires 6-8 years of postgraduate study alone, patience, commitment, dedication and hard work are key qualities that a researcher must posses in order to be successful. Other necessary qualities include having a keen, analytical mind, genuine scientific curiosity, medical background and interests, the ability to work alone as well as part of a team, strong communication (both oral and written) skills, and excellent attention to detail. The average pay for a research/medical scientist is approximately Rs. 252,683 - Rs. 1,831,257 annually.

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