What Does a Medical Science Liaison Do?

Written by: Lucy Walters
Published on: 18 Sep 2023

What Does a Medical Science LiaisonA Medical Science Liaison is a professional who works in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, or other healthcare industries. MSLs focus on specific therapeutic areas such as oncology, cardiology, CNS, haematology, and women’s health, and disease states such as rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

The role of a MSL involves building and maintaining relationships with key opinion leaders (KOLs) and healthcare professionals (HCPs) in their assigned therapeutic areas. They serve as a bridge between healthcare providers and the company they represent, providing unbiased scientific and medical information about products, research, and clinical trials.

In this article, we look at some of the key responsibilities of an MSL, outlining some of the key benefits of this career as well as the essential requirements needed to succeed in this field.

What are the Main Responsibilities of an MSL?

Whilst the exact responsibilities of an MSL will vary depending on the specific role, level of experience, and the type of employer, common responsibilities include:

  • Building relationships with KOLs and HCPs
  • Providing unbiased and updated medical and scientific information on products, research, and clinical trials
  • Communicating and educating KOLs and HCPs on new therapeutic approaches, patient management protocols, and the latest trends in their therapeutic area
  • Conveying customer insights and feedback to their organisations
  • Conducting medical/scientific presentations at conferences
  • Responding to enquiries from KOLs and HCPs
  • Providing scientific and clinical support for marketing efforts
  • Identifying and developing new KOLs who could become advocates for the product
  • Collaborating with other departments within the company, such as Clinical Development and Marketing

What are the Main Benefits of Working as an MSL?

Working as an MSL offers several benefits, one of them being the flexibility that comes with the role, allowing MSLs to balance their careers and lifestyle. This flexibility has become more prominent in the post-pandemic world, where adaptable work arrangements are on the rise. Some MSL positions even offer the opportunity to determine your own hours and goals, with incentives to drive you.

Additionally, being an MSL provides the opportunity to work closely with KOLs and HCPs, fostering professional relationships and expanding networks in the medical community. The role offers the chance to engage in scientific discussions, share medical knowledge, and contribute to the advancement of healthcare.

Working as an MSL also allows individuals to stay at the forefront of medical and scientific advancements in their specific therapeutic area. This helps to enhance their knowledge and expertise, which can be personally fulfilling and professionally rewarding.

What Experience, Skills and Qualifications are Needed to Become an MSL?

Some of the key experience, skills, and qualifications typically required to become an MSL include:

  • Bachelor’s degree in a scientific field (biology, pharmacy, etc.)
  • Some positions may prefer a higher degree (Master’s or PhD) in specialised areas
  • Strong foundation in medical or life sciences
  • Understanding of medical terminology, clinical research, and relevant therapeutic areas
  • Effective communication of complex scientific information
  • Ability to build strong professional relationships
  • Ability to analyse scientific literature, clinical data, and research findings
  • Ability to interpret and evaluate complex data
  • Presentation skills to clearly and concisely present scientific information
  • Understanding of the needs of healthcare professionals
  • Familiarity with regulatory guidelines and requirements in medical affairs
  • Prior experience in clinical or pharmaceutical industry settings
  • Insight into clinical trial methodologies, product development, etc.

How is the Role of an MSL Evolving?

The role of an MSL is evolving in response to various factors. MSLs are gaining more significance within the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry as they bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and medical practice, contributing to improved patient outcomes. The MSL role is expanding to cover a wider range of therapeutic areas, allowing for better coverage of different medical specialties and emerging fields. Additionally, MSLs now engage with a broader range of stakeholders including healthcare professionals, key opinion leaders, patient advocacy groups, payers, and regulators.

The digital transformation has influenced MSL practices, with virtual engagement becoming more prominent. MSLs are leveraging technology to connect with stakeholders, hold virtual meetings, deliver webinars, and utilize online platforms for efficient dissemination of scientific information. Continuous learning is imperative for MSLs to keep up with evolving scientific knowledge, emerging therapies, treatment guidelines, and clinical trial findings.

These professionals are also involved in real-world evidence (RWE) collection and analysis. They contribute to evidence-based medicine by providing insights into the effectiveness and safety of treatments in real-world clinical practice. MSLs are fostering collaborative relationships with healthcare professionals, researchers, and industry experts, aiding in scientific discussions, identifying unmet medical needs, and supporting the development of educational initiatives and research collaborations.

Join this exciting field. Search the latest MSL jobs on PharmiWeb.Jobs.