Exploring this Job
There are many ways to explore the career of medical scientist. You can read books about the field. Ask your school or local librarian for some suggestions. Visit the Web sites of professional associations. The Association of American Medical Colleges, for example, offers information about a career in biomedical research at its Web site, https://students-residents.aamc.org. Other good ways to learn more about the field include visiting the Web sites of college programs that offer degrees in genetics, biology, biotechnology, pharmacology, and related fields, and talking to a medical scientist about his or her career.
The Biotechnology Institute publishes Your World: Biotechnology & You, a biotechnology magazine for students in grades 7–12. Some of its issues cover breakthroughs made by medical scientists who are using biotechnology. Find information at http://www.biotechinstitute.org.
Medical scientists conduct research, whether to find the origin of a particular disease, how an illness spreads, or the effects of drug interaction. Others search for biological resources that can help fight disease. As a result of their work, disease and illness are kept in check and new, safer, and more affordable medicines can be made available to the public.
Many medical scientists can find work or help from government agencies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) employs and also provides financial grants to medical scientists to conduct research based on their own theories. For example, some of these medical scientists are responsible for finding new drugs to treat AIDS symptoms. They conduct research and design a plan to test their hypotheses and collect data. Medical scientists are also responsible for writing grant proposals, detailing each facet of the proposed research study.
Many medical scientists working in the private sector are employed at biopharmaceutical companies. These medical scientists may develop new drugs to battle diseases or illness. Medical scientists conduct research, design and implement a plan of action, collect and interpret data, and finally present their findings for approval. At times, they may be asked to provide feedback on the final product—its cost and its packaging and instructions.
Genetic engineers are specialized medical scientists who experiment with altering, splicing, and rearranging genes for specific results. This research has resulted in the discovery and production of insulin and interferon, two medical breakthroughs that can treat diseases like diabetes and leukemia.
Medical scientists also stay abreast of research done by their colleagues and other groups, especially if the research is related to their own work. They follow research projects, read published reports, and attend presentations given at seminars and symposiums.