Biomedical research (or experimental medicine) encompasses a wide array of research from "basic research" (also called bench science or bench research), involving the explanation of more fundamental scientific principles, to clinical research, which is distinguished by the involvement of patients. Within this spectrum is applied research, or translational research conducted to aid and support the development of knowledge in the field of medicine, and pre-clinical research, for example involving animals. Both clinical and pre-clinical research phases exist in the pharmaceutical industry's drug development pipelines, where the clinical phase is denoted by the term clinical trial. However, only part of the clinical or pre-clinical research is oriented towards a specific pharmaceutical purpose.
The need for fundamental and mechanistic understanding, diagnostics, medical devices and non-pharmaceutical therapies means that pharmaceutical research is only a small part of medical research. The increased longevity of humans over the past century can be significantly attributed to advances resulting from medical research. Among the major benefits of medical research have been vaccines for measles and polio, insulin treatment for diabetes, classes of antibiotics for treating a host of maladies, medication for high blood pressure, improved treatments for AIDS, statins and other treatments for atherosclerosis, new surgical techniques such as microsurgery, and increasingly successful treatments for cancer. New, beneficial tests and treatments are expected as a result of the Human Genome Project.
Many challenges remain, however, including the appearance of antibiotic resistance and the obesity epidemic. Most of the research in the field is pursued by biomedical scientists, however significant contributions are made by other biologists, as well as chemists and physicists. Medical research, done on humans, has to strictly follow the medical ethics as sanctioned in the Declaration of Helsinki and elsewhere. In all cases, the research ethics has to be respected.