Who is a Clinical Research Scientist?
In general, a clinical research scientist is a person who would conduct research as well as investigations on various diseases and conditions. These researches and/or investigations are conducted for the purpose of determining correct diagnoses and efficacious therapies. Clinical research scientists will have the opportunity to work in varying employment settings such as:
- Pharmaceutical laboratories
- Federal government (1)
Being a clinical research scientist, you would require doing the following tasks:
- Conducting research studies that would evaluate various human diseases/disorders as well as the methods of preventative care and treatment of diseases/disorders
- Developing instruments for the purpose of medical applications
- Preparing and analyzing medical samples as well as data for the purpose of investigating causes and treatment of the following:
o Chronic diseases
- Standardizing the following in order to allow for the mass production as well as the distribution of drugs and any other medicinal products:
o Drug potency
- Working with the following in order to develop programs that would improve health outcomes:
o Health departments
o Industry personnel
- Applying for the funding from government agencies and any other private funding organizations by writing research proposals
- Following procedures for the purpose of avoiding contamination and maintaining safety (2)
- Summarizing the findings in reports and communicating results.
- Interacting with other scientists inside and outside of the organizations. (3)
How to Become a Clinical Research Scientist?
Earning a Bachelor's Degree:
There are many different pathways for entering into the clinical research profession. However, each and every prospective clinical research scientist must hold a bachelor's degree in biological sciences or any other related field. Currently, few institutions are offering various degree programs that are specifically tailored to prepare the candidates to work in clinical research arena. Programs of this kind would include courses in the following subjects:
- Effective research techniques
- Scientific writing
- Data management
Irrespective of major, the undergraduate candidates who are willing to enter the clinical research field must take courses in the following subjects:
- Biological sciences
Completing an Advanced Degree:
Almost all the clinical research scientist positions would require either an advanced degree in biological sciences or medical degree. The programs in any of the following subjects would satisfy the requirements:
- Cellular biology
- Molecular biology
Some of the universities are offering master's program in clinical research. Candidates who enroll in these programs would learn about various things like:
- Research procedures
- Scholarly publication practices
- Professional ethics
- Clinical trial practices
On the other hand, getting a medical doctor or nursing degree might qualify the candidates to work in the clinical research field.
Working as Clinical Research Associate:
Most typically, the candidates who are aspiring to become a clinical research scientist would begin their careers in entry-level positions like 'clinical research associate'. Being a clinical research associate, you would assist the clinical research assistant in the design and administration of clinical trials. In addition, they would help evaluating the gathered data and monitoring the procedures in order to assure that the research methodology complies with the professional protocol.
Working as a Clinical Research Scientist:
As a clinical research scientist, you may work in perform analysis on cells and tissues for the purpose of identifying the pathogens as well as toxins with the aim of understanding the causes of diseases. This would also provide an opportunity to develop vaccines and/or medicines for treatment. Alternatively, some of the clinical research scientists would work directly with patients by administering the drugs and therapies in clinical trials. Some others would instruct the physicians and technicians on medical lab procedures.
In the United States:
As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), several clinical research scientists would opt completing a dual degree programs with majors in medicine and science. Some of the job postings even require the candidates holding dual degrees. Candidates those who are enrolled in dual degree programs would learn about the medical practices as well as the advanced research methodology.
Currently, the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) is offering three different certificates for professionals in clinical research:ACRP) is offering three different certificates for professionals in clinical research:
- Certified Clinical Research Associate
- Certified Clinical Research Coordinator
- Physician Investigator
In order to earn any of these certifications, you must pass an exam. All these certifications are being recognized by the industry and hence, it would help you advancing your career in clinical research.
Clinical research scientists in the US would find it useful to participate in continuing education programs that are offered by ACRP or any other professional organization. Training of this kind might be available in the following forms:
- Online classes
- In-person courses
In India, becoming a clinical research scientist would generally require a PhD in the field plus 3 to 5 years of working experience. The person who is intending should be familiar with various:
In India, few universities are offering some integrated courses of MSc & PhD in clinical research. This is a multi-disciplinary course which would include the following core subjects:
- Basic epidemiology
- Basic biostatistics
- Clinical trials
- Design and analysis
- Conduct and Operational issues in clinical trials
- Bioethics and regulatory affairs
- Systematic reviews
- Proposal development and Medical writing
- Data management
- Drug Development
- Project management (2), (3)
According to the 'Bureau of Labor Statistics' of United States Department of Labor, the average annual pay for a clinical research scientist was $76,980 per year which is $37.01 per hour.
In India, a research scientist is earning an average pay of 587,198 INR per year. The work experience in the field has a moderate effect on the salary for this job. And generally, people in these jobs would not have more than ten years of working experience. (2), (4)