What is biomedical science? Careers, role and education

A biomedical science student in a lab

Future-proof your career by entering into the dynamic world of biomedical science. By combining medicine, biology, and technology you could push the boundaries of medical knowledge, spearhead medical innovations, and contribute to research that addresses public health challenges. Ultimately, changing lives beyond the laboratory.

What is biomedical science?

Biomedical sciences primarily studies human biology, health, and diseases. Underpinned by anatomy and physiology, mathematics and statistics, and bioinformatics, it focuses on how the body’s organs, cells and systems function.

It includes the generic study of biomedical sciences and more specialised areas such as pharmacology, human physiology, and nutrition. Covering disciplines such as medical microbiology, clinical epidemiology, clinical virology, genetic epidemiology, and biomedical engineering.

Careers in biomedical science

From analysing complex data to testing new medications, biomedical science careers are varied. Biomedical scientists are essential for the treatment of diseases in hospitals but the demand for graduates extends beyond healthcare settings – to research institutions, academia, and the legal sector. Some careers, for example dentistry, require further studies after completing a degree.

Biomedical science salaries can vary. The average biomedical scientist salary in the UK is £37,149 per year, a genetic counsellor is £46,899 annually and a neuroscientist is £50,863 per year (Talent.com 2024). 

What does a biomedical scientist do?

A biomedical scientist researches diagnostic tools, understands the biological causes of diseases, and works to improve healthcare. They might have responsibility of running a lab and ensuring it meets health and safety regulations by maintaining specialist equipment and ordering materials.

Most biomedical scientists specialise in one of the following:

Infection sciences

A focus on the identification of viruses, micro-organisms, diseases, and monitoring the effectiveness of vaccines and antibiotic treatment.

Blood sciences

They may focus on haematology – the function of blood diseases – and understanding the role of the immune system in combating disease. They may also analyse blood and body fluids to help diagnoses and ensure the compatibility of blood donors and recipients

Cell sciences

Also known as cellular biology, biomedical scientists specialising in cell sciences examine diseased tissue samples to understand the cause of disease. They are also renowned for their significant contribution to preventative healthcare by conducting cervical smear screening.

Genetics and molecular pathology

This includes the study of hereditary variations in genes and the diagnosis of diseases such as genetic disorders, autoimmune conditions, and cancer through analysis of biological markers (such as DNA, proteins, and other molecules).

More biomedical science careers


Combining their knowledge of computer science with biology, a bioinformatician uses computational tools (such as algorithms and mathematics) to analyse biological data. By working at the cross section of biology and computer science, bioinformaticians are crucial for advancing medical treatments.

Real world examples of bioinformaticians’ impact span from discovering new drugs to driving innovation in cancer research. They could be responsible for designing experiments and translating results into accessible data to enable medical teams to make informed decisions. Or they might analyse genomic data to find disease-related proteins and use this information to design new targeted drugs.

Clinical research associate

A clinical research associate conducts trials to evaluate the effectiveness, risks, and benefits of drugs. At the start of the trial they develop protocol, collaborate with ethics committees, manage the trial investigators, and train staff. During the trial they make sure protocols, regulations, and ethical standards are followed. They track progress, collaborate with researchers and ensure the accuracy of data. After completion, clinical research associates document the trial, analyse the results, and contribute to final reports for publications.


A career in dentistry specialises in oral health issues, such as gum and tooth disorders. In addition to providing routine check-ups, dentists also take X-rays, administer local anaesthetics, and carry out dental operations like cleanings, extractions, and fillings. They can prescribe medicine and refer patients for further treatment if needed.

Some dentists will lead a dental team or pursue careers in hospital dental services such as paediatric dentistry or implants.


An epidemiologist studies the causes, patterns and consequences of diseases in groups of people. They conduct surveys and research to help identify why a disease has spread, the route of transmission, and how healthcare professionals and governments can contain it.

Epidemiologists also help medical professionals and governments interpret genetic test results to inform public health policies to prevent future outbreaks of diseases. Not only supporting progress in infectious disease containment in their country but also global interventions.

Genetic counsellor

A genetic counsellor helps individuals and families understand genetic diseases, risks, and testing. The role demands compassionate communication skills and expertise in interpreting genetic information. They help people understand hereditary factors that contribute to their condition and make informed decisions about their treatment.

The role is highly collaborative to ensure the continuity of care for the patient. Genetic counsellors work as part of a diverse team including clinical scientists and genetic consultants.

Medicinal chemist

A medicinal chemist helps create new and more effective medicines for specific conditions or diseases. With skills in experimental design and data analysis, they use chemistry techniques to design and synthesize chemical compounds which have a positive effect on the body or mind.

Through rigorous testing, medicinal chemists test these compounds and analyse results to refine the molecules until there is enough evidence that it is safe for testing in people.

Nuclear medicine physician

Nuclear medicine physicians play a vital role in providing care and treatment for various conditions. They give small doses of radioactive medicines to patients and record images of the material in the body. They scan bones for cancer staging, use myocardial perfusion imaging to assess heart function, kidney imaging to evaluate kidney scarring, and imaging techniques to identify brain diseases.

Medical doctors then look at the images to diagnose an infection or disorder. Nuclear medicine physicians also treat medical conditions with doses of radiation.


Using imaging and molecular biology, neuroscientists research the spinal cord, nervous system, and brain to understand brain function, brain behaviour, and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, migraine, and strokes.

An ever-evolving discipline, neuroscience has developed a collaborative approach which provides a variety of career paths. Neuroscientists work across pharmaceutical development, neuropsychology, academia, clinical sciences, computational neuroscience, neuroimaging, regulatory affairs, science communication, and public engagement.

Pharmaceutical marketing manager

A pharmaceutical marketing manager helps drive the successful sale of pharmaceutical products by creating marketing strategies and campaigns. They must ensure any marketing materials they produce comply with industry regulations.

Typical responsibilities include conducting market research to identify trends and needs, collaborating with sales and product development teams to understand sales and performance data, and building relationships with healthcare professionals to promote their product.

Why study biomedical science at the University of Sheffield?

The School of Biosciences at the University of Sheffield brings together more than 100 years of teaching and research expertise across the discipline of biology. Home to more than 120 lecturers who are actively involved in cutting-edge research, the University trains the next generation of biologists in the latest research techniques.

Students can make use of the multi-million pound microscopy equipment for study into the prevention of diseases, and a world-leading controlled environment facility to study the impacts of climate change.

Graduates from the University of Sheffield School of Biosciences have pursued diverse career paths, including biodiversity conservation at charities, industrial research at Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Reckitt, and studying for a PhD. They have also begun careers in areas such as marketing, teaching, human resources, IT, science communication with prominent employers such as GSK, Google, and Aldi.

Pathway programmes for international students

Students looking to get a career in biomedical science can prepare for their degree at the University of Sheffield International College. This will enable them to get subject-specific knowledge, improve English language and study skills, and settle into UK life.

International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering

Taught at the International College, the International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering is tailored to prepare students for their chosen undergraduate degree at the University of Sheffield. With core modules including Academic English Skills, Project Skills and Academic Success, students will also study subject-specific modules to develop their academic knowledge for their chosen degree.

Upon successful completion of the International Foundation Year and meeting the required progression grades, students can enter the first year of study in degrees such as Biomedical Science BSc, Biomedical Science MBiolSci, and Biomedical Science with an Industrial Placement Year BSc.

Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering

On the Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering students will be introduced to carrying out lab experiments and analysing statistics for research projects through core modules, including Academic English Skills, Research Project for STEM Statistics, and Academic Success.

Once students complete the Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering and achieve the required grades they can progress onto study the Biomedical Science MSc at the University of Sheffield.

For further information on studying the International Foundation Year and the Pre-Masters at the International College, refer to the entry requirements, fees and visa information.


Why study biomedical science?

By studying biomedical science, you’ll gain a deep understanding of human health. You’ll explore medical innovation to address public health challenges which could lead to improvements in healthcare and benefit generations to come.

Is biomedical science a good degree?

With this degree, you will become part of a dynamic field that combines human biology, health and diseases. Underpinned by anatomy and physiology, mathematics and statistics, and bioinformatics, you’ll have the chance to put your knowledge and skills towards research. Advancing healthcare across the world and preventing major disease outbreaks.

What can you do with a biomedical science degree?

With a biomedical science degree, the career options available to you are varied. You can pursue a career working at the forefront of healthcare innovation. You might work in clinical laboratories, pursue a career in research, or decide to continue your studies and attend medical school. Whatever route your career takes, you’ll be making a positive difference in the world.

Note: Salary information is sourced externally. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the salary ranges.