Medical Research Scientist


Medical research scientists use scientific methods to study countless aspects of our world. Those who specialize in medical research study diseases, drugs, microorganisms, genetics and many other areas of human and animal health. They work toward improved understanding of diseases and of environmental hazards. They play a critical role in the development of new therapeutic treatments and innovative diagnostic techniques. The medicines we take, the inoculations that protect us from infectious diseases and the processes that preserve our food were all developed by medical research scientists.

Medical research scientists can pursue a variety of specialties.  These include anatomy, biochemistry, biophysics, cell biology, embryology, genetics, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology, pathology, pharmacology, physiology and many others.


Potential Employers

  • University laboratories and research centers
  • Government agencies
  • Private industry
  • Private consulting practices

Work Environment

Medical research scientists generally have a great deal of autonomy in their work, and oftentimes in their work schedules.  They may have a typical 5-day, 40-hour a week schedule, but the nature of their work may lead to longer hours or a less typical schedule.  Research scientists must follow standard infection control and laboratory safety guidelines to protect themselves from potential hazards.

Job Outlook



  • Ability to learn the complex science, math and methods of scientific investigation
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Ability to make judgments based on data and observation
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Patience and objectivity
  • Creativity and independent thinking



The minimum education requirement is a bachelor’s degree, but a masters of doctoral degree is needed to conduct advanced research and to be eligible for many jobs at the university level, in the private sector, and in government research laboratories.  Students entering college with an interest in medical research should establish a major in one of the physical or biological sciences or in mathematics.

Programs in Nebraska

  • All accredited colleges offer undergraduate courses in the sciences.
  • Those institutions with graduate programs may offer masters and doctoral degrees in various scientific disciplines.
  • Health science centers offer masters and doctoral programs in medical sciences.
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center has M.S. and PhD. programs in biochemistry and molecular biology; cancer research; cellular and integrative physiology; genetics, cell biology and anatomy; pathology and microbiology; pharmaceutical sciences; pharmacology and experimental neuroscience.

Related / Links

Professional Associations

For more information about medical research careers:

Career information:  Careers in Health Care 2010, the University of Nebraska Medical Center.