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. 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 Sciences, as defined by the UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education Benchmark Statement in 2015 includes those science disciplines whose primary focus is the biology of human health and disease and ranges from the generic study of biomedical sciences and human biology to more specialised subject areas such as pharmacology, human physiology and human nutrition. It is underpinned by relevant basic sciences including anatomy and physiology, cell biology, biochemistry, microbiology, genetics and molecular biology, immunology, mathematics and statistics, and bioinformatics. As such the biomedical sciences have a much wider range of academic and research activities and economic significance than that defined by hospital laboratory sciences. Biomedical Sciences are the major focus of bioscience research and funding in the 21st century. The Heads of University Centres of Biomedical Sciences (HUCBMS) is a major representative body for biomedical sciences higher education and research. It was established in 1993 and has an international membership; its founders were Professor Terry Baker (Bradford), Professor Gerry McKenna (Ulster), Dr Ray Jones (Portsmouth) and John Clarke (Cardiff).
Roles within biomedical science
A sub-set of biomedical sciences is the science of clinical laboratory diagnosis. This is commonly referred to in the UK as 'biomedical science' or 'healthcare 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.
- "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