Why Do We Care about Biostatistics?

Tonya Maharajh

Biostatistics is the branch of statistics that is responsible for the interpretation of scientific data generally in relation to the biology, public health or other health science fields. Though it often goes unnoticed, biostatistics is critical to medical research. Biostatisticians’ work to design studies that help provide evidence that therapeutic medication will work. They design trials and design appropriate sample spaces. For example, a biostatician may be interested in figuring out whether there is a new drug that is effective in treating diabetes. They would then have to test the risk factors of this drug and determine the relationship between the exposure and outcome of this drug. In order to do this, they would determine an appropriate sample size for testing, meaning that they would figure out how many people would need to be tested and how many would be used as a control. This is a very important part of medical testing, especially because when testing the effect on humans, it is essential that they do not use more people than necessary (as a safety precaution).  They would then use the data they extracted from several databases and determine the association between the two factors, in this case, whether a new drug can be used to treat diabetes.

A very important part of being in the field of biostatistics is determining the risk factors associated with a certain variable. They use models, methods, algorithms and graphical tools to analyze data of anything from genetics to environmental health.

Another interesting fact about biostatistics is that work in this field is not just limited to medical research. Biostatician can work in academics, government, non-profit organizations, public health and pharmaceuticals, with concentrations in several different areas.

Although I never knew it, biostats might be exactly what I’ve always wanted to do with my career. I have always been interested in medical research, but never necessarily the intense lab work. Biostats I think has a great balance of math and science that seems to be a great middle ground for my liking.  Especially with the various career opportunities it offers, it definitely has more of an appeal to me than medical lab work. I like the idea of survival analyses and infectious disease studies. What I like most about it, is that it indirectly has an impact on almost everyone whether or not they realize it. Up until today I never realized that half of the articles I read either for school or for my own pleasure contain information researched by biostatician. They calculate risk factor related to behaviors, foods, diseases and even environmental risks. The wide range of research that can be done in this field is definitely what has caught my interest. In most other careers there is usually a very limited range of job opportunities, whereas biostatician are in high demand for so many varying studies.  Biostats definitely is something I am willing to look further into for a career!




  1. (2013). Biostatisticians: Do You Know What They Do? Retrieved September 01, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5A0lg3p6pvI
  2. (2014). What is Biostatistics. Retrieved September 01, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iT0wfHpfJFs
  3. (2010). Careers in Biostatistics. Retrieved September 01, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZcrfrS_3MU

About Biostatistics | Graduate Group in Biostatistics. (n.d.). Retrieved September 01, 2016, from http://biostat.ucdavis.edu/about/index.html




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