Medical Science Liaisons

What is a Medical Science Liaison?

A Medical Science Liaison (MSL) is a field-based employee who is part of the Medical Affairs organization. They focus on one product or one therapeutic area and typically cover a set geography similar to sales reps, but unlike sales reps they can partake in scientific exchange with providers who they call upon. This means that they can discuss scientific publications and address matters which are off-label.

MSL teams tend to be smaller than commercial teams and usually call on only select physicians, including many key opinion leaders (KOLs). They often have some of the closest relationships to KOLs of anyone within the company and manage the relationship on behalf of the broader organization. They also have a key role in educating KOLs, usually making several trips a week to various KOLs that they call upon.

MSLs can also play an important part in following up with clinician-researchers who are part of randomized trials that the company is running and they may serve as an interface to help ensure pull-through on completion of documentation, recruitment of appropriate patients, and to address questions. They can also interface with KOLs on investigator-sponsored studies funded by the company- mostly regarding followup or support with paperwork, etc.

As medical professionals, MSLs play a key role in training speakers and sales team members. Some may also be involved in training new MSLs on the team.

MSLs are typically required to have an advanced degree such as a MD, PharmD, or PhD.

MSLs may also be called Regional Medical Liaisons (RMLs). Outcomes liaisons are similar to MSLs but call on payer customers instead of providers and by virtue of that, have discussions on additional topics including health economic matters.

For those looking to break into an MSL role, the following book may be useful: