Biomedical sciences are a set of applied sciences applying portions of natural science or formal science, or both, to knowledge, interventions, or technology that are of use in healthcare or public health. The field of biomedical sciences can be defined as the applied domain of life and natural sciences, used for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of human diseases. Such disciplines as medical microbiology, clinical virology, clinical epidemiology, genetic epidemiology, and biomedical engineering are medical sciences. In explaining physiological mechanisms operating in pathological processes, however, pathophysiology can be regarded as basic science.
Biomedical science is ever changing and very dynamic, hence offers exciting career opportunities in specialist laboratory work, consultant work, research, education and management. It's a vast and extremely inter-disciplinary field. There are various streams of biomedical sciences including human biology, pathology, biochemistry, molecular & cell biology, genetics, pharmacology, immunology, applied or clinical chemistry, microbiology, epidemiology, and biomedical engineering.
Biomedical scientists usually work in the laboratory. They handle biological samples (blood, urine, cells and tissues) and use a wide range of laboratory equipments ranging from test tubes, beakers and pipettes to computers and hi-tech equipments.
Some of the common job roles and responsibilities of a biomedical scientist are:
- testing and screening for lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cancer or cardiovascular disease; and screening for infectious ones such as rubella, hepatitis or Ebola
- investigating and understanding the disease mechanisms, profile and progression
- finding new, effective and innovative ways to detect diseases as early as possible (e.g. discovery of new biomarkers or a new method of detecting a biomarker)
- working towards discovery and development of treatments, which could be preventive (vaccines) and/or therapeutic (drugs and medicines)
Roles within biomedical science
There are at least 45 different specialisms within healthcare science, which are traditionally grouped into three main divisions:
- specialisms involving life sciences
- specialisms involving physiological science
- specialisms involving medical physics or bioengineering
Life sciences specialties
- Molecular toxicology
- Molecular pathology
- Blood transfusion science
- Cervical cytology
- Clinical biochemistry
- Clinical embryology
- Clinical immunology
- Electron microscopy
- External quality assurance
- Haemostasis and thrombosis
- Histocompatibility and immunogenetics
- Histopathology and cytopathology
- Molecular genetics and cytogenetics
- Molecular biology and cell biology
- Microbiology including mycology
- Tropical diseases
- Tissue banking/transplant
Physiological science specialisms
Physics and bioengineering specialisms
- Biomechanical engineering
- Biomedical engineering
- Clinical engineering
- Clinical measurement
- Diagnostic radiology
- Equipment management
- Maxillofacial prosthetics
- Medical electronics
- Medical engineering design
- Medical illustration and clinical photography
- Non-ionising radiation
- Nuclear medicine
- Radiation protection and monitoring
- Radiotherapy physics
- Rehabilitation engineering
- Renal technology and science
Biomedical science in the United Kingdom
The healthcare science workforce is an important part of the UK's National Health Service. While people working in healthcare science are only 5% of the staff of the NHS, 80% of all diagnoses can be attributed to their work.
The volume of specialist healthcare science work is a significant part of the work of the NHS. Every year, NHS healthcare scientists carry out:
- nearly 1 billion pathology laboratory tests
- more than 12 million physiological tests
- support for 1.5 million fractions of radiotherapy
The four governments of the UK have recognised the importance of healthcare science to the NHS, introducing the Modernising Scientific Careers initiative to make certain that the education and training for healthcare scientists ensures there is the flexibility to meet patient needs while keeping up to date with scientific developments.
- "The Future of the Healthcare Science Workforce. Modernising Scientific Careers: The Next Steps". 26 Nov 2008. p. 2. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
- "Top Career Paths in Life and Biological Sciences after 12th". Tanmoy Ray. 2018-02-07. Retrieved 2018-07-21.
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- "Extraordinary You" (PDF). Department of Health. 16 July 2010. p. 116. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
- "Modernising Scientific Careers: The UK Way Forward". 26 Feb 2010. p. 3. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
- "Modernising Scientific Careers: The UK Way Forward". 26 Feb 2010. p. 5. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
- What is Healthcare Science: NHS Careers
- Extraordinary You: Case studies of Healthcare scientists in the UK's National Health Service
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
- The US National Library of Medicine
- Health Science Researchers, Jobs and Discussions
- Healthcare Reviews