Main Topic: Environment and Society
Secondary Topic: Human Geography
Overview: Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health. They often use clinical trials and other investigative methods to reach their findings. 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. 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.
Geographic skills are important for medical scientists. Most human health issues can be analyzed by location, and often clear differences in those health factors can be seen based on geography. Medical scientists could use geographic information systems (GIS), modeling software, and other computer programs to analyze and predict locational patterns of human health.
Geographers at work: Medical geographers, environmental geographers, biogeographers
Recommended College Courses: Medical geography, environmental geography, biogeography, geographic information science, human geography, physical geography
Skills: Mapping and modeling, geographic information systems, computer and database systems, spatial analysis, map reading and interpretation
Occupation Group: Life, Physical, and Social Science
Learn more about Medical Scientists from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/medical-scientists.htm#tab-2
Written by Christopher Anderson