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About Biomedical Science

What is a biomedical scientist?

Biomedical science is the term for the investigations carried out by biomedical scientists on samples of tissue and body fluids to diagnose disease and monitor the treatment of patients.

The role of biomedical scientists

From cancer screening to diagnosing HIV, from blood transfusion for surgery to food poisoning and infection control biomedical scientists are the foundation of modern healthcare. Biomedical scientists work in partnership with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to perform many different roles in NHS laboratories. Without biomedical scientists the diagnosis of disease, the evaluation of the effectiveness of treatment, and research into the causes and cures of disease would not be possible.

Doctors treat their patients based on results of the vital tests and investigations that diagnose often serious and life threatening illnesses such as cancer, AIDS or diabetes. Without biomedical scientists departments such as Accident & Emergency and operating theatres could not properly function. The many roles of support by biomedical scientists for A & E and theatre surgery includes tests for emergency blood transfusions and blood grouping as well as tests on samples from patients who have overdosed on unknown substances, or may have leukaemia or are suspected of having a heart attack.

The work of a biomedical scientist must be accurate and efficient because patients' lives may depend on their skills. They are continually increasing their knowledge as laboratory techniques develop and research transforms the cutting edge of science and medicine. Scientists learn to work with computers, sophisticated automated equipment, microscopes and other hi-tech laboratory equipment. They employ a wide range of complex modern techniques to perform their roles.

Career opportunities

Biomedical science is a continually changing, dynamic profession with long term career prospects including management, research, education and specialised laboratory work. UK biomedical scientists are employed in National Health Service private sector laboratories but are also involved in other organisations such as the National Blood Authority which provides support to hospital blood banks and the Blood Transfusion Service. Biomedical scientists working for the Medical Research Council carry out research in the medical and biological sciences to help preserve health and combat and control disease.

Biomedical scientists are also employed in a variety of roles including the veterinary service, the Health and Safety Executive, university and forensic laboratories, pharmaceutical and product manufacturers, Her Majesty's Forces and various government departments.

There are also opportunities for biomedical scientists to use their training and skills in healthcare posts and projects around the world. They are involved in voluntary work in developing countries on behalf of international bodies such as the World Health Organisation and the Voluntary Service Overseas.

Biomedical science represents an opportunity to put scientific knowledge into practical use and perform a key role within medical healthcare that offers career satisfaction for many in the profession. Biomedical scientists learn skills and gain qualifications that can be transferred all over the UK and can be recognised worldwide.