What is a Pharmaceutical Researcher?

Pharmaceutical ResearcherA pharmaceutical researcher is a scientist that develops medications to treat health conditions. These scientists will spend many of their working hours inside a laboratory, where they will experiment with how certain substances interact withe the body. They will try to develop and learn about compounds and substances that hinder the growth and reproduction of cells and organisms that cause disease in the human body.

The Process of Pharmaceutical Development

There are generally considered to be three steps to the process of developing new pharmaceuticals for the treatment of medical conditions. These steps include the following:

  • The Discovery Stage – During the discovery stage, pharmaceutical scientists and researchers will look for new compounds that might have the potential for treating or curing diseases. This stage involves a great deal of speculations and experimentation.
  • The Development Stage – Once it is proven that a compound has a desired effect on cells that cause diseases, the development stage begins. During this stage, the drug will be administered to either animals or human subjects to ensure its effectively and safety.
  • The Manufacturing Stage – After a new drug has been discovered and developed, it needs to be manufactured so that distribution can begin. Manufacturing involves producing the medication in question in large quantities so that it can be made available to doctors and patients.

Specializations in Pharmaceutical Research

A researcher working in pharmaceutical development may choose to specialize in one of a number of different areas of the drug development process, according to Explore Healthcareers. These ares include the following:

  • Conceiving of new drug therapies
  • Reinventing an existing pharmaceutical by uncovering a new method of using the drug to treat either the same disease or a different type of health condition
  • Studying the effects a medical condition or disease has on the body
  • Pinpointing ways that the manufacture of a drug can be made more efficient or effective
  • Working with various regulatory agencies like the FDA to provide advice and consultation regarding the safety of medications

Working Conditions of a Pharmaceutical Scientist

While pharmaceutical scientists in a wide range of roles will probably find themselves spending most of their working hours in a laboratory, they could work for a variety of different types of institutions. Pharmaceutical researchers might find work in both the public and private sectors. They could work for biotech companies or CROs (contract research organizations). In the public sector, they might find themselves working for government agencies. There are many opportunities for pharmaceutical researchers in the academic world as well. Researchers might conduct research for universities to develop drug or drug therapies, and they might find work teaching university level courses on pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical development.

In addition to working in a lab, pharmaceutical researchers might also spend a lot of time working on computers to run experiments or simulations.

Related Resource: Biostatistics

Job Outlook

Scientists working in the development of pharmaceuticals typically enjoy fairly high average salaries. Growth in the field of pharmaceutical development is expected to be very strong in the coming years, especially because of the aging population.