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Last Updated on July 29, 2023

What is a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or PhD in Medical Science? Both are doctors who specialize in medicine and related clinical fields. Their work focuses on treating clinical issues and illnesses, diagnosing conditions, and researching new treatments using their specialized knowledge.

To get more information on Medical Science, How to Become a Medical Scientist, Top 3 Medical Scientist Jobs, What Medical Scientists Do, Work Environment for Medical Scientists, Medical Scientist Salaries . You can also find up-to-date, related articles on Collegelearners.

Medical science covers many subjects which try to explain how the human body works. Starting with basic biology it is generally divided into areas of specialisation, such as anatomy, physiology and pathology with some biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology and genetics. Students and practitioners of holistic models of health also recognise the importance of the mind-body connection and the importance of nutrition.

Knowledge of how the body functions is a fundamental requirement for continued studies in the medical profession or for training as a health practitioner. To be able to diagnose disease a practitioner first needs to understand how a fit and healthy body functions. It is difficult to truly evaluate and diagnose disease without the knowledge of the effects of diseases and how the normal function of the body can be restored. As well as giving you a good working knowledge of the human body, our courses give you an understanding of the terminology used by the medical profession, allowing you to refer and communicate effectively and confidently with GPs, consultants and other medics. It is essential that as a practitioner your patients have confidence in your professional ability.

The human body is a complex organism and our approach to the study of human physiology is an integrative one. We take the holistic approach in seeing how things can go wrong in the body and how it can be brought back into balance. The term holistic comes from the word ‘whole’. Diseases can affect people not only physically but also emotionally and our approach recognises the different systems and functions of the body as interdependent and whole.

Anatomy is the study of the component parts of the human body – for example, the heart, the brain, the kidney or muscles, bones and skin. Medical students are required to carry out a practical dissection of a body in order to understand how it all connects up and many colleges of medicine use real bodies where others use computer simulation. Most holistic courses only study the theory of anatomy but some courses may admit outside students to the dissection room.

Physiology is the application of the study of anatomy into the realm of how the body parts normally function independently and as a component of a system, such as the heart and the circulatory system with blood vessels and blood. In order to make people better it is essential to know how the body systems work in health so that you can tell what is wrong when patients feel ill and be able to track their recovery. It is also vital to understand that organ systems are interconnected too and how they work together.

Pathology is the study of disease states. Medical students are required to diagnose diseases as separate entities and have an enormous vocabulary to describe disease states. (If you have learned Greek or Latin it is easy to understand the terminology as it is descriptive in these languages but if you haven’t it is quite daunting!) Holistic therapists are usually less interested in a standard diagnosis for a patient and much more concerned with the symptoms produced by the individual. But both medical systems require an intelligent understanding of prognosis 

What Medical Scientists Do

Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health.

Work Environment

Medical scientists work in offices and laboratories. Most work full time.

How to Become a Medical Scientist

Medical scientists typically have a Ph.D., usually in biology or a related life science. Some medical scientists get a medical degree instead of, or in addition to, a Ph.D.


The median annual wage for medical scientists was $91,510 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of medical scientists is projected to grow 17 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 12,600 openings for medical scientists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Medical Scientists

 What They Do: Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health.

 Work Environment: Medical scientists work in offices and laboratories. Most work full time.

 How to Become One: Medical scientists typically have a Ph.D., usually in biology or a related life science. Some medical scientists get a medical degree instead of, or in addition to, a Ph.D.

 Salary: The median annual wage for medical scientists is $91,510.

 Job Outlook: Employment of medical scientists is projected to grow 6 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations. Medical scientists will continue to be needed because they contribute to the development of treatments and medicines that improve human health.

 Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of medical scientists with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a medical scientist with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Medical Scientist Jobs

  • Senior Medical Science Liaison, Oncology – Northwest – Jazz Pharmaceuticals – Palo Alto, CAThe Medical Science Liaison (MSL) will provide clinical and scientific information in response to inquiries about Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ marketed and developmental products to physicians, other health …
  • Medical Science Liaison, Solid Tumor, West – The Medical Affairs Company (TMAC) – San Francisco, CAIdeal locations are near a major metropolitan airport hub Serving as a field-based extension of the Company, the Medical Science Liaison (MSL) will represent the Company and their compound for the …
  • PAH Medical Science Liaison (MSL/Sr. MSL) – Cleveland Territory. – Johnson & Johnson – San Francisco, CAJanssen Pulmonary Hypertension (PH), a division of Johnson & Johnson’s Family of Companies, is recruiting for a Medical Science Liaison (MSL) or Senior Medical Science Liaison (Sr. MSL) to cover the …

 What Medical Scientists Do

Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health. They often use clinical trials and other investigative methods to reach their findings.

Duties of Medical Scientists

Medical scientists typically do the following:

  • Design and conduct studies that investigate both human diseases and methods to prevent and treat them
  • Prepare and analyze medical samples and data to investigate causes and treatment of toxicity, pathogens, or chronic diseases
  • Standardize drug potency, doses, and methods to allow for the mass manufacturing and distribution of drugs and medicinal compounds
  • Create and test medical devices
  • Develop programs that improve health outcomes, in partnership with health departments, industry personnel, and physicians
  • Write research grant proposals and apply for funding from government agencies and private funding sources
  • Follow procedures to avoid contamination and maintain safety

Many medical scientists form hypotheses and develop experiments, with little supervision. They often lead teams of technicians and, sometimes, students, who perform support tasks. For example, a medical scientist working in a university laboratory may have undergraduate assistants take measurements and make observations for the scientist’s research.

Medical scientists study the causes of diseases and other health problems. For example, a medical scientist who does cancer research might put together a combination of drugs that could slow the cancer’s progress. A clinical trial may be done to test the drugs. A medical scientist may work with licensed physicians to test the new combination on patients who are willing to participate in the study.

In a clinical trial, patients agree to help determine if a particular drug, a combination of drugs, or some other medical intervention works. Without knowing which group they are in, patients in a drug-related clinical trial receive either the trial drug or a placebo—a pill or injection that looks like the trial drug but does not actually contain the drug.

Medical scientists analyze the data from all of the patients in the clinical trial, to see how the trial drug performed. They compare the results with those obtained from the control group that took the placebo, and they analyze the attributes of the participants. After they complete their analysis, medical scientists may write about and publish their findings.

Medical scientists do research both to develop new treatments and to try to prevent health problems. For example, they may study the link between smoking and lung cancer or between diet and diabetes.

Medical scientists who work in private industry usually have to research the topics that benefit their company the most, rather than investigate their own interests. Although they may not have the pressure of writing grant proposals to get money for their research, they may have to explain their research plans to nonscientist managers or executives.

Medical scientists usually specialize in an area of research within the broad area of understanding and improving human health. Medical scientists may engage in basic and translational research that seeks to improve the understanding of, or strategies for, improving health. They may also choose to engage in clinical research that studies specific experimental treatments.

 Work Environment for Medical Scientists

Medical scientists hold about 138,300 jobs. The largest employers of medical scientists are as follows:

Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences35%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private23%
Hospitals; state, local, and private17%
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing7%
Offices of physicians2%

Medical scientists usually work in offices and laboratories. They spend most of their time studying data and reports. Medical scientists sometimes work with dangerous biological samples and chemicals, but they take precautions that ensure a safe environment.

Medical Scientist Work Schedules

Most medical scientists work full time.

 How to Become a Medical Scientist

Medical scientists typically have a Ph.D., usually in biology or a related life science. Some medical scientists get a medical degree instead of, or in addition to, a Ph.D.

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Education for Medical Scientists

Students planning careers as medical scientists generally pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or a related field. Undergraduate students benefit from taking a broad range of classes, including life sciences, physical sciences, and math. Students also typically take courses that develop communication and writing skills, because they must learn to write grants effectively and publish their research findings.

After students have completed their undergraduate studies, they typically enter Ph.D. programs. Dual-degree programs are available that pair a Ph.D. with a range of specialized medical degrees. A few degree programs that are commonly paired with Ph.D. studies are Medical Doctor (M.D.), Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.), Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.), Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.), and advanced nursing degrees. Whereas Ph.D. studies focus on research methods, such as project design and data interpretation, students in dual-degree programs learn both the clinical skills needed to be a physician and the research skills needed to be a scientist.

Graduate programs emphasize both laboratory work and original research. These programs offer prospective medical scientists the opportunity to develop their experiments and, sometimes, to supervise undergraduates. Ph.D. programs culminate in a dissertation that the candidate presents before a committee of professors. Students may specialize in a particular field, such as gerontology, neurology, or cancer.

Those who go to medical school spend most of the first 2 years in labs and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, psychology, microbiology, pathology, medical ethics, and medical law. They also learn how to record medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses. They may be required to participate in residency programs, meeting the same requirements that physicians and surgeons have to fulfill.

Medical scientists often continue their education with postdoctoral work. This provides additional and more independent lab experience, including experience in specific processes and techniques, such as gene splicing. Often, that experience is transferable to other research projects.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Medical Scientists

Medical scientists primarily conduct research and typically do not need licenses or certifications. However, those who administer drugs or gene therapy or who otherwise practice medicine on patients in clinical trials or a private practice need a license to practice as a physician.

Medical Scientist Training

Medical scientists often begin their careers in temporary postdoctoral research positions or in medical residency. During their postdoctoral appointments, they work with experienced scientists as they continue to learn about their specialties or develop a broader understanding of related areas of research. Graduates of M.D. or D.O. programs may enter a residency program in their specialty of interest. A residency usually takes place in a hospital and varies in duration, generally lasting from 3 to 7 years, depending on the specialty. Some fellowships exist that train medical practitioners in research skills. These may take place before or after residency.

Postdoctoral positions frequently offer the opportunity to publish research findings. A solid record of published research is essential to getting a permanent college or university faculty position.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation for Medical Scientists

Although it is not a requirement for entry, many medical scientists become interested in research after working as a physician or surgeon, or in another medical profession, such as dentist.

Important Qualities for Medical Scientists

Communication skills. Communication is critical, because medical scientists must be able to explain their conclusions. In addition, medical scientists write grant proposals, because grants often are required to fund their research.

Critical-thinking skills. Medical scientists must use their expertise to determine the best method for solving a specific research question.

Data-analysis skills. Medical scientists use statistical techniques, so that they can properly quantify and analyze health research questions.

Decisionmaking skills. Medical scientists must determine what research questions to ask, how best to investigate the questions, and what data will best answer the questions.

Observation skills. Medical scientists conduct experiments that require precise observation of samples and other health-related data. Any mistake could lead to inconclusive or misleading results.

 Medical Scientist Salaries

The median annual wage for medical scientists is $91,510. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $50,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $164,650.

The median annual wages for medical scientists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing$107,270
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences$99,840
Hospitals; state, local, and private$84,510
Offices of physicians$77,610
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private$65,840

Most medical scientists work full time.

 Job Outlook for Medical Scientists

Employment of medical scientists is projected to grow 6 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations. A larger and aging population, increased rates of several chronic conditions, and a growing reliance on pharmaceuticals are all factors that are expected to increase demand for medical scientists. In addition, frontiers in medical research are expected to require the services of medical scientists.

Medical scientists will be needed for research related to treating diseases such as AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Research into treatment problems, such as resistance to antibiotics, also continue to provide opportunities for medical researchers. In addition, a higher population density and the increasing frequency of international travel may facilitate the spread of existing diseases and give rise to new ones. Medical scientists will continue to be needed because they contribute to the development of treatments and medicines that improve human health.

The federal government is a major source of funding for medical research. Going forward, the level of federal funding will continue to affect competition for winning and renewing research grants.

Occupational TitleEmployment, 2019Projected Employment, 2029Change, 2019-29
Medical scientists, except epidemiologists138,300146,70068,400

 Careers Related to Medical Scientists

Agricultural and Food Scientists

Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products.

Biochemists and Biophysicists

Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and of biological processes, such as cell development, growth, heredity, and disease.


Epidemiologists are public health professionals who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans. They seek to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through research, community education, and health policy.

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. Community health workers collect data and discuss health concerns with members of specific populations or communities.

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

Medical laboratory technologists (commonly known as medical laboratory scientists) and medical laboratory technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances.


Microbiologists study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites. They try to understand how these organisms live, grow, and interact with their environments.

Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses. Physicians examine patients; take medical histories; prescribe medications; and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries, such as broken bones; diseases, such as cancerous tumors; and deformities, such as cleft palates.

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.


Veterinarians care for the health of animals and work to improve public health. They diagnose, treat, and research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and other animals.

Medical Science vs Medicine

Medical science and medicine are fields inside life sciences that are very similar to each other as both are lifesaving sciences. Both are also applied sciences as they make use of a body of knowledge that aids in making diagnosis and treatment of ailments. These sciences also help in prevention of ailments with their body of knowledge. However, medical science and medicine are not the same, and there are subtle differences that will be highlighted in this article.


Medicine comes from Latin Medicina that means the art of healing. Medicine is a word that is also used for the medication prescribed by a doctor to his patient. This drug is used for the treatment of a disease or ailment that the patient is suffering from. However, medicine is a branch of life science that serves to diagnose, treat and prevent ailments or diseases. As it is a science that deals with healing, it encompasses many different practices, though people take it for modern allopath, which is the most prevalent form of diagnosis and treatment in the western world.

The most basic undergraduate degree that is offered in the field of medicine is MBBS that is recognized in all parts of the world. In many countries, there is a degree by the name of Doctor of Medicine, abbreviated as MD. This degree is a post graduate level degree and reflects the specialization of the doctor past the level of MBBS.

Medical Science

Medical science is a course offered by some colleges and universities that aim to help students who are interested in pursuing careers in health and medicine. It is a generic and umbrella term that includes many different sciences such as biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, physiology, nutrition, toxicology, neuroscience, etc. that are all a part of life saving sciences. This is a course that is offered at the undergraduate level, and its duration is 3 years.

What is the difference between Medical Science and Medicine?

• Medicine is an applied science as it makes use of a body of knowledge.

• Medicine refers to the practice of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases.

• Medical science is a bachelor level degree that is offered by some universities and aims to help students make careers in health and medicine.

• While MBBS is the primary degree in the field of medicine that has a duration of 5-6 years, Bachelor of Medical Science is an undergraduate level degree with duration of three years.

• MBBS is usually offered by medical schools and some universities, whereas bachelor’s degree in medical science is offered by only a few colleges and universities.

• Medicine is also a medication or a drug that is prescribed by a doctor to his patient for treatment of disease or illness.

How a degree in medical science can launch your career

1. Research scientist

Research scientists can work in a variety of settings: government, non-government organisations, labs or universities. They manage lab-based research projects from beginning to end. This involves designing the study, undertaking the lab-work required and analysing collected data.

A typical day

According to Associate Professor Andrew Harman, Honours Coordinator for Applied Medical Science at the School of Medical Science, “a typical day for a research group leader or scientist involves meetings with research students to check on their progress, reading medical papers, writing papers and grants as well as coordinating education workshops/talks and sitting on research committees.”

Career progression

“Key to career progression in this role is publishing your research in the best journals you can.”

“This career is rewarding because you are pushing forward the frontiers of human knowledge and you get to work with amazing people,” says Associate Professor Andrew Harman.

2. Clinical immunolgy scientist

Clinical immunolgy scientists study how pathogens affect the immune system in a lab setting. “Immunology is one of the most rapidly advancing areas of biomedical research. It contributes to the eradication of infectious diseases, as well as development of successful strategies for vaccination and organ transplantation. Immunotherapies are used to cure allergies, asthma and cancer,” according to Associate Professor Jim Manos, Honours Coordinator for Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the School of Medical Science.

“Because modern immunology has evolved into a multidisciplinary science that today integrates into many aspects of biology and medicine, immunology graduates are highly sought after by both clinical and research laboratories.”

A typical day

Clinical immunolgy scientists usually work in medical schools, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies or labs. A typical day might be collecting tissue samples in order to study protein chemistry and cellular reactions, or it might be designing and conducting clinical trials for a new pharmaceutical drug. This roles also requires a lot of self-education in order to keep up with the latest research in medical journals. 

Career progression

Senior immunology professionals manage labs and train medical students or other lab/hospital staff.

3. Pathologist

Pathology is the study of disease – what causes the disease and its effect on the human body. Pathologists work in labs to study bodily fluids and tissue samples. They provide vital information to help doctors diagnose disease. Some pathologists also perform autopsies to determine cause of death and disease progression.

A typical day

Pathologists spend the majority of their time in the lab. Some pathologists work in hospitals and offices. They are also required to write reports and present their findings, so good communication skills are vital.

Career progression

Pathologists in senior positions manage teams of lab workers and attend conferences to stay abreast of industry and technological developments.

4. Pharmacologist

Pharmacologists enjoy a wide range of employment, according to Professor Michael Murray, Honours Coordinator for Pharmacology at the School of Medical Science, “they can have careers in research, drug industry, clinical trials, marketing of drugs, provision of expert advice to the public or to other health professionals”.

A typical day

A typical day looks quite different for each pharmalogist depending on what area they work in. For example, “toxicologists are like pharmacologists but are interested in chemicals, not drugs. Toxicologists can work in regulation of chemicals, understanding why chemicals have effects on the body or tissues, the dangers of exposure to some chemicals, and the prediction of adverse effects after chemical exposure,” Professor Michael Murray says.

Career progression

Undergraduate students often go on to do a postgraduate project related to drug/chemical reactions. Some go on to pursue a full time research career and or join a regulatory agency like Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). 

5. Biomedical scientist

Biomedical scientists work with patients and in labs to find new ways to cure or treat disease with diagnostic tools or therapeutic strategies. They work at diagnosing diseases and illnesses such as HIV, cancer, diabetes, food poisoning, hepatitis and meningitis.

A typical day

Biomedical scientists working in industry are usually based in pharmaceutical or biotechnology labs. They analyse blood, tissue and fluid samples to diagnose disease and work with medical staff to create treatment plans. They also monitor blood abnormalities, provide support in blood transfusions and collect data on the effects of treatments and medications on patients. Attention to detail is a necessary skill as they work with data and reporting on a daily basis.

Career progression

Biomedical scientists can go on to become senior lab staff, consultants, researchers or management within a wide range of government, university, pharmaceutical or not-for-profit organisations.

6. Histology technician

A histology technician works in a medical lab and focuses on coverting tissue samples into microscope slides for disease diagnosis. This role is vital in the diagnosis and treatments of diseases like cancer. They work behind the scenes to supply doctors with important information.

Histology technicians work with pathologists and lab managers on a daily basis.

A typical day

According to Dr Paul Austin, Senior Lecturer of Anatomy and Histology at the School of Medical Sciences, an average can look like this:

“Cyrosectioning specimens using a cryostat or microtome, staining specimens with histological regents, and microscopy analysis of specimens.”

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