Why do we care about Biostatistics?

Biostatistics is a field that strives to apply the principals of science and statistics to find possible solutions to major public health issues.  Biostatistics is such an important field for the proper and accurate analysis of a wide range of scientific data.  Applications of biostatistics can be found in fields pertaining to biology, public health, as well as many other divisions of the health sciences.  In both laboratory and clinical research, biostatistics is such an incredible resource to utilize when analyzing results from a diverse set of variables and evaluating evidence.  Professionals in the field must determine where variation originates, whether it be chance, error, or a reaction from a treatment.  Biostatistics it also useful when determining the difference between correlation and causation when striving to draw conclusions about the outcomes in a sample space.

Researchers rely on professionals in this field to analyze variables and to draw conclusions.  This field provides so much opportunity to apply principals of statistics to real-word problems in a diverse set of disciplines.  This field plays a huge role in the advancement of both laboratory research and clinical research. Biostatisticians are capable of applying the principals of mathematics to the sciences to “bridge the gap between theory and practice.”

This practice was especially evident in Hans Rosling’s TED talk “The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen.”  As a statistician and a medical doctor, Rosling brings statistics to life as he examines common myths of third world countries such as child mortality and distribution of income.  He presents his data in such an engaging and visual manner, which enables the audience to realize how much valuable information can be deduced from statistics.  Additionally, by presenting the data in such a visual and engaging manner, he proves that statistics can be so interesting and that there is so much to learn in this field.

Biostatisticians typically work for health organizations, companies, colleges and universities, and even government agencies.  These professionals strive to improve the human health industry and to make the general population more knowledgeable about issues regarding public health.  Biostatistics is such a huge industry that is expected to fill over 2000 new jobs by 2018 as the demand for these statisticians has been greatly increasing.  The main fields that contribute the most to the biostatistics industry are academia, governmental, and pharmaceutical industries.

There are several degree options for someone interested in persuing a career in biostatistics.  There are programs that enable students to receive a master’s degree in biostatistics as well as a doctoral degree.  The master’s degree has some biomedical applications in clinic, industry, and public health.  The doctoral degree would prepare a student to teach and do research in the field.  The median salary for a biostatistician is approximately $90,000.

While it is human nature to try to deduce our own conclusions from our observations, quantitative data is a more accurate an effective means of deducting conclusions regarding variables.   Once a research study is completed and all the data is collected, it is necessary to find a means of summarizing and interpreting the data.  This information enables researchers to draw conclusions about treatments, which enables them to make discoveries and find new treatments for patients.

I had finally understood a Biostatistician’s role for the first time over the past summer when completing vision research.  While I worked as a research assistant obtained from experimentation was sent out to a biostatistician who analyzed all the data and produced charts full of organized calculations and graphs (i.e confidence intervals and p values).  Once all the data was analyzed, the primary researcher began to make connections and figure out the patterns in the data.  From this, the primary researcher was able to accurately analyze what her results meant and began to consider why trends were or were not reflected in the data. From this she wrote up the study and included the analyzation of the data obtained from the biostatistician in results and discussion sections.

Although I do not feel like research and biostatistics are fields that I am interested in pursuing, I have a great appreciation for all of the work, time, and detail that goes into these fields.  It was very interesting to have a little glimpse of the real world applications of biostatics  just a few months before taking this course.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Berger, Vance W., and J. Rosser Matthews. “What Does Biostatistics Mean To Us.” Mens Sana Monographs. Medknow Publications, 2006. Web. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3190464/>.

“The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen.” Hans Rosling:. N.p., n.d. Web. <https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_you_ve_ever_seen>.

“Department of Biostatistics.” What Is Biostatistics? N.p., n.d. Web. <https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/biostatistics/content/what-biostatistics>.

State, By. “What Exactly Is “Biostatistics”?” Healthcare Management Degree Guide. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.healthcare-management-degree.net/faq/what-exactly-is-biostatistics/>.

“What Does a Career in Biostatistics Actually Look Like? | This Is Statistics.” This Is Statistics. N.p., 06 June 2016. <http://thisisstatistics.org/what-does-a-career-in-biostatistics-actually-look-like/>.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Do We Care About Biostatistic

Biostatistics is an important part of biology and can be used in a plethora of ways. It is a way to quantitatively demonstrate that an experiment was significant or used to discover pertinent information when comparing data. By using biostatistics in any type of biology, it is possible to show data in a very accessible manner. This way, biostatistics can be given to policy makers and interest groups so that they may take into account the world around them before making decisions.

A few examples of how biostatistics is pertinent to marine biology comes from a marine ecology class I participated in this past summer. We observed the difference in abundance of barnacles between concrete pillars and wooden pillars. Although the difference in abundance was quite clear through simple observation of the pillars, the statistical tests that were run gave us a significant number. The significant number was found when comparing the two pillars numerically and essentially tells us that there is a difference in abundance quantitatively.

Another really important idea behind biostatistics is that one is able to compare many variables in an experiment, rather just focusing on one idea. Using the barnacle abundance example, along with barnacle abundance differences in concrete versus wooden pillars, we observed two different genus of barnacles on multiple wooden pillars and found by using biostatistics that one genus grew more abundantly at a certain height compared to the other.

By using biostatistics, it is possible to make assumptions of an entire population. In this case we could assume that the barnacles will appear in the abundances observed on other wooden pillars. One downfall of assumptions is it is possible to draw invalid significant differences if there is not enough data collected in an experiment. Biostatistics helps to exclude personal bias because when making visual observations, there is a chance the data observed leans one way or another, and when only using numbers, at least it is an exact measurement of significance.

Over time, biostatistics becomes even more important because it allows for easy interpretation throughout history. For example, there is an invasive tunicate in the North Carolina coast and by taking abundance samples of various areas over many years, we are able to observe the affects the tunicates are having on native species. This can be applied to many different abundance observations and can help lead to policies around conservation issues in determining whether species are threatened or endangered.

Hans Rosling, a founder of gapminder.com did a Ted Talk on how biostatistics can help to understand the world better. Many of the examples he gave showed that with statistics that over time, the health, poverty, and child mortality is improving in almost every country whereas most of the time, people assume that these different issues are not getting any better or actually getting worse. Using biostatistics, the world is able to debunk these assumptions and help to look to the future rather than teaching the past. Another thing he explains is that using average data for each country while looking at health care issues can be detrimental, because the same population can have very large variances. When looking at the variances, it will be important to ask how policies can be changed to help all variances, not only the average. Therefore biostatistics is important because we are able to quantifiably tell where large variances occur. Essentially biostatistics is important to global health policies because the data received can be compared by multiple countries and for multiple data sets.

It is beneficial in all aspects of biology, especially when considering multiple variables in one experiment to use biostatistics. By using biostatistics, we are able to observe the world in a simplified way. However, sometimes in health care, it can be harmful to look at only averages because it can lead to not seeing the effect on individual. Policy changes can be made in conservation and health care by knowing what is significant and what is not.

Why do we care about Biostatistics?

Data collection and processing is a vital component of experimental methodology. It serves a variety of different functions in every aspect of our daily lives and is necessary in quantifying our observations both in and outside of the laboratory. Biostatistics involves the collection and interpretation of data related, but not limited to, different fields of sciences and areas concerning public health such as biomedical research, epidemiology, and immunology. The applications of biostatistics are not just limited to a major or minor. It can be applied to research to determine whether the relationship between two variables is causal or correlational, help understand the collected data, and make informed decisions while being presented with uncertainty and variables (known and unknown).

The applications of biostatistics originated in the 17th century and now play an important role in fields such as bioassay, which involves the use of a substance or drug to test the impact on an organism, demography, epidemiology, clinical trials, community diagnosis, and bio-mathematical modelling.1 Through the ever increasing research and discoveries in the scientific community, it has become a necessity to obtain the maximum amount of reliable information from an experiment. The reliability of the data can not only determine the future of research, but at times can also become a question of life and death, such as during clinical trials for experimental drugs. Biostatistics plays a vital role in helping the U.S. Food and Drug Association “evaluate the results of studies conducted to investigate the efficacy and safety of therapeutic and diagnostic products,” make informed policy decisions, and model the risks associated with approving new drugs.2 This is not only beneficial for drug development, but also in regulating the availability of drugs on the market to ensure that the best quality is available to the public.2  Biostatistics can be used to determine the probability that an experimental drug might fail on a patient depending on a defined set of criteria (i.e. compatibility, age, progression of disease, etc). This can provide primary care providers with information that they can use to weigh the pros and cons of administering an experimental drug to a patient that has exhausted most, if not all, available treatment options. Reliance on biostatistics spreads through various industries and fields, including the pharmaceutical industry, public health, and medicine. Each industry and field utilizes the data to suit their own needs in order to view the impact of their products on living organisms.

Pharmacology is an industry where biostatistics plays an important role. It serves as a tool to summarize experimental data, variance, and conduct hypothesis testing.3 This is a vital component as it can allow pharmacologists to derive the potency of a drug and understand its impact and symptoms.3 It can also be used to employ an appropriate model involving a factorial design to limit the number of animals used in trials on ethical grounds.3 In doing so, resources are efficiently utilized. Biostatistics also plays a vital role in public health along with epidemiology. While epidemiology focuses on the collection of data to determine the start of a disease or monitor the progression and spread, biostatistics is needed to interpret and utilize the data to strategize ways of controlling the spread.

Medical research also relies heavily on biostatistics in order to ensure experimental parameters are “unbiased, consistent, and efficient.”4 However, it has been found that medical professionals and students lack knowledge about the appropriate use of these statistics.4 Lack of biostatistical knowledge can skew research results, negatively impact the quality, and do more harm than good.4 Hence, it is important to make sure that students are exposed to biostatistics at higher education institutes to ensure that a strong foundation has been instilled. This will not only aid in professional lives, but also in ensuring that medical research is of the highest quality.

As a biochemistry major, biostatistics plays an important role in the understanding of course materials and potential research that might be conducted over the year. It connects ideas learned in courses such as Introduction to Public Health and aids in understanding concepts learned in Biology, such as the probabilities of gene or cell mutations or the expression of a certain phenotype / genotype. Biostatistics also aids in understanding and interpreting the date presented in case studies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Sathian B, Sreedharan J. “Importance of Biostatistics to Improve the Quality of Medical             Journals”. WebmedCentral          BIOSTATISTICS 2012;3(5):WMC003332. Web. 2 Sept.                2016.

2 “U.S. Food and Drug Administration.” CDER Office of Biostatistics. United States Department             of Health and Human Services, 1 May 2015. Web. 02 Sept. 2016.

3 Spina, D. “Statistics in Pharmacology.” British Journal of Pharmacology 152.3 (2007): 291–     293. PMC. Web. 2 Sept. 2016.

4 Gore, AD et al. “Application of Biostatistics in Research by Teaching Faculty and Final-Year   Postgraduate Students in Colleges of Modern Medicine: A Cross-Sectional          Study.” International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research 2.1 (2012): 11– 16. PMC. Web. 2 Sept. 2016.

Why do we care about Biostatistics?

In today’s world where medical care and research needs to appeal to an exploding population being able to accurately determine risk and reward is exceedingly important. Using Biostatistics in order to properly guide a physician, a team of researchers, or a savvy consumer in his medical care is not only becoming increasingly essential, but it also can help solve many problems people in the life sciences face. The ability to critically analyze, evaluate, and portray data is a skill anyone in the sciences should have, and it becomes especially important that the data is well analyzed and portrayed if it affects the health of others. Overall, we care about biostatistics because it can help us make informed decisions about how to conduct a successful study, properly analyze the results, and be able to make informed decisions from the conclusions of data.

Improper use, or lack of, of statistical research in medical studies can come at the cost of lives. I was listening to NPR last week when the topic of lack of diversity in cancer studies came up. The lack of minorities included in cancer studies is making minority groups more susceptible to succumbing to the disease. Some drugs, like one blood thinner mentioned in the talk, do not even work on certain minority groups because they simply were not even considered in the trial. Despite making up a significant amount of the population, around 40%, the amount included in the studies is much lower than what would be included if a proper bio statistical approach was taken in directing the study. So an important application of biostatistics is making sure a medical study is an accurate representation of the populace so the research can help more people, rather than a homogenous group. So an improper use of biostatistics to not properly conduct a study is not only irresponsible, but it is also unethical. So the study of biostatistics is important to prevent these kinds of errors as a researcher.

A good use of biostatistics is being able to determine risk versus reward from a set of data to be able to make an educated decision on how to proceed. For example, extended biomedical research from a large pool of diverse clinical study has determined the BRCA1 gene has an extremely high incidence of breast cancer. As a physician, if through genetic testing you know your patient has the breast cancer gene, by consulting the biostatistical data from research it would be a good suggestion to take pre-emptive measures against breast cancer. Another good example of using biostatistical data to make an informed decision is in drug design and research. I recently read a paper that tested potential drugs to help patients with p53 mutation, p53 mutation is involved in over 50% of cancers. When deciding what type of mutation to study, they tested over 20,000 cancer patients to see where in the p53 gene mutation had occurred, they then studied the ones that occurred the most frequently, “p53 hotspots”.  The researchers intelligently allocated their resources to studying the mutations that occurred most often because that was the most efficient way to help the most people with their limited resources as suggested by the biostatical data. Thus, an important application of biostatistics is being able to critically evaluate data to determine the risk and reward of decisions you will have to make as a researcher or physician.

In my time here at Rollins College I have seen the importance of being able to analyze data for its accuracy, importance, and to be able to draw conclusions from it. The ability to construct a good argument for a lab report, or to understand a review article, can hinge solely on the ability to understand the data in a figure. It is also especially important for knowing if a study has bias or was well conducted. I have seen how the manipulation of statistics, in the same drug paper discussed earlier, can lead the reader to a dishonest conclusion. Being able to tell if the data was manipulated, for example using different methods to show errors to try and make the error seem smaller and this the data more significant, is an important part for being able to tell if a research was well conducted, or if the data displayed is “honest”. I plan on using biostatistics extensively in my future care as a physician. In my experience as a medical shadow, I have seen doctors make good and bad decisions that hinged solely upon how frequently they used a biostatistical approach to diagnosing a patient. Knowing what diseases are most common in certain demographics, what symptoms most likely occur from, and what treatments are most effective is all information one can derive from proper biostatistical research. Keeping up with new clinical studies that extensively used a proper biostatistical approach to guide and evaluate their data collection and analysis is a way to help ensure your patients safety and to give a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. I have seen several successful physicians do research on the best possible treatments for a disease by consulting bio statistical articles on the success rates of certain treatment plans before suggesting which route to take, and they explained it as simply the most responsible thing to do. In conclusion, I personally care about biostatistics because it is the most responsible way to make informed decisions, which is important because your decisions will affect the welfare of others.

 

Works cited:

“BRCA1 & BRCA2: Cancer Risk & Genetic Testing.” National Cancer Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2016.

Bullock, Alex N., and Alan R. Fersht. “Rescuing the Function of Mutant P53.” Nature Reviews Cancer Nat Rev Cancer 1.1 (2001): 68-76. Web.

Gore, Ad, Pv Chavan, Yr Kadam, and Gb Dhumale. “Application of Biostatistics in Research by Teaching Faculty and Final-year Postgraduate Students in Colleges of Modern Medicine: A Cross-sectional Study.” Int J App Basic Med Res International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research 2.1 (2012): 11. Web.

“Lack Of Diversity In Clinical Trials Presents Possible Health Consequences.” NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2016.

 

Why Do We Care About Biostatistics?

Statistics: Trends, Trials, and Truth

Biostatistics. What is it and why do we care? Biostatistics is simply statistics filtered through a biological lenses and we care because statistics is what makes the world go round. As a society, a tragic personal story or a single casualty has a deeper impact on our emotions and affects us for a longer period of time than the news of a large number of deaths. Most people simply cannot conceive that much loss, we see it as another statistic, and so the news of one death or one injustice is much easier to relate our own lives towards. However, it is the statistics that enable change, not the individual stories. Personal tales have their place and are useful in getting the public’s attention, but it is the statistics, useful and meaningful data, of how and where these problems are occurring that urges policymakers to enact change. When there are statistics, a cause or an idea is much more difficult to dismiss out of hand or as a small problem that only effects and isolated population.

The ability to read and understand statistics is just as important as the ability to create them. Just as statistics can be used to bring clarity to a situation, they can also be used to hide and obscure the truth by highlighting certain aspects of a situation that are not as important as they may seem. Take the statistic that African Americans and Latinx make up over 50% of all prisoners while compromising around 25% of the total US population, without accounting for the over-policing and the socioeconomic reality that these communities face, it looks as if African Americans and Latinx are more prone to criminal activity. Or the media sensationalized statistic that around 75% of abusers were themselves abused as children, by itself this statistic makes it seem that if because someone was abused, then it is likely that they themselves will become an abuser. That is a false assumption. While it is true that a high number of abusers were abused, it is also true that a higher number of people who were abused go on to become functioning members of society and some of the most empathic people you will ever meet.

Many people view statistics with a high degree of reliability, but they also view mathematics and its relatives as tedious or boring and don’t want to spend time on them. However, as long as we are going to put such an emphasis on statistics, we need to learn how to interpret what we read and what we are told.

Statistics is an important class for anyone to take, but it is doubly so for anyone in a position to make decisions that affect the life and livelihood of others. Biostatistics first brings to mind the image of researchers and esoteric intellectuals, things that affect us, just not in our day to day lives. It can be those things, but statistics also drives policymaking toward items such as factors affecting health trends or the recent decision to disallow the incarceration of the poor because of an inability to post bail. Just because we are not always aware of them, does not make statistics unimportant, and learning how to organize and interpret meaningful data will better able us to spot inconsistencies, correlations versus causations, and go through life better informed of all of the facts.

Works Cited

  1. “1In6 | Am I Going To Become Abusive? What If I Already Have?”. 1in6.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 1 Sept. 2016.
  1. “Criminal Justice Fact Sheet”. Naacp.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 1 Sept. 2016.
  1. Williams, Pete. “The Justice Department Says Poor Defendants Can’t Be Held When They Can’t Afford Bail”. NBC News. N.p., 2016. Web. 1 Sept. 2016.

Why do we care about Biostatistics?

Austin Hieb

Dr. Z

Blog 1

9/2/16

Statistics in biology have long been recorded.  It is used to figure out and solve real-world issues within the biology field.  It is also used to manipulate and understand data that is obtained from a certain experiment.  Biostatistics are used in many different areas of biology, such as medicine, public health, and genetics.  Biostatistics is typically used in combination between two fields, as in public health and medicine, and seeks to find the correlation between the two fields for the particular study.  For example, finding the relationship between a certain disease and the population it affects.  The biostatistician in this example would collect the data, and use statistics to find the solution.

In medicine specifically, it is used regularly for clinical trials and research.  After the data from the trial is collected, finding the proper conclusions from the data and how to fit it on a graph is primarily done through statistics.  Also, medicine uses statistics to illustrate the probability of someone who has a disease getting a secondary illness, or overcoming the disease.

Public health relies almost solely on the work biostatisticians to create their policies.  Studies that are published contain data about a population of people, and the health risks that are associated with that population.  For example, a study finds a certain food effects the vitamin intake of an individual.  A biostatistician took the data from the study, analyzed it, and drew conclusions about the food for the general population.  Biostatisticians also need to be able to take a large variety of data, since health issues really do vary from individual to individual, and shrink it to an appropriate target population so they can draw conclusions.

In genetics, statistics are used to predict the probability that you could get a certain disease.  In genome mapping, this is used.  In finding out that you have a particular gene, there is a calculation of if you could get whatever the gene codes for, or if you could pass the gene along to your offspring.  Another example of this is cancer, where research and testing are prominent.

For me, biostatistics are of interest because I wish to make it into the medical field.  It gets used almost everyday in the medical field.  It is very important that physicians or health care providers understand how to calculate the probability that a certain population will get a disease.  Also, be able to calculate probability that they will overcome the disease, or get infected with another disease at the same time.  Also, if I were to have a clinical trial, I would need to understand how to analyze and fit the data.

As a Biology major, understanding how to interpret data will be hugely important during future research projects.  I will not have to rely on the work of someone else to interpret my data for me, rather be able to work completely independent on projects.  Knowing basic and more advanced statistical functions will benefit me not only in my biology classes, but in my other pre-requisites for medical/dental school, and also for the MCAT/DAT.  This class will also give me more insight to the application of statistics toward biology than taking a regular statistics class would.  For me, this is beneficial because I always like to know how or when something I learned will be used in the real world.

Biostatistics are very important in the field of biology.  Without it, researchers would not be able to draw conclusions from the data that they have obtained.  Public health would suffer, and people would not be able to know if they could transmit certain genes to their offspring.

Works Cited

Bhattacharjee, Suman. “1 Biostatistics Introduction.” YouTube. YouTube, 12 Mar. 2014. Web. 01 Sept. 2016.

Cumberland, William, Ph.D, and Abdelmonem Afifi, Ph.D. “Service Statistics in Public            Health.” Public Health Reports (1896-1970) 71.6 (1956): 519-20. UCLA School of           Public Health. Web.

Harrell, Frank, Ph.D. “Biostatistics.” What Is Biostatistics? Vanderbilt University Department of Biostatistics, n.d. Web. 01 Sept. 2016.

Why Do We Care about Biostatistics?

The field of biostatistics inhabits a unique niche environment in the field of science which is both extremely useful, but also broadly impactful. Biostatistcs is unique because normally when one thinks of a science involving a high level of math, physics, or possibly chemistry, would come to mind. However, mathematics, statistics in particular, is just as necessary and important in biology. Since biostatistics, as a single region of biology, brings the majority of the mathematics to its greater field, Biostatistics has an even greater importance than the mathematics in a chemistry or physics course. On a more personal note, biostatistics appeals to me a student who is a chemistry major and a biology minor, because it satisfies my desire to quantify, and analyze as I often get to do in chemistry. Further, biostatistics has the added benefit of being about biology which among other subcategories includes medicine, and dentistry the field which I hope to someday research in. Biostatistics is important to me because of its versatility, utility, and applicability to my future.

Biostatistics is used in a wide variety of biological fields from the studying of the largest ecosystems or even concerns of the entire planet all the way down to analyzing the use of a single protein inside an already microscopic cell. Biostatistics is used for a variety of applications, including ecosystem modeling. It has also been used to understand the utility of ecosystems and feedback loops involving the environment. The economic value of the services an ecosystem can provide to humans as opposed to the raw materials we could rob from that environment is a difficult both moral and mathematical problem to solve. Biostatisticians have been able to help prove the innate value of a maintained ecosystem which has led to greater preservation efforts. Similarly, biostatistians have also been able to weigh in on the SLOSS (Single Large or Several Small) preserve debate with some statistics backing up either side of the debate depending on the ultimate goal.

In addition, to these very large scale research questions biostatistians also play a huge role in the portions of biology pertaining to humans. Biostatians work on all parts of the process of health problems in the world today. From determining if a problem is existent and how large it is, to determining which populations are at risk and why, to finding possible targets as well as potential treatments, to evaluating each of those treatments’ effectiveness in cell level testing, animal testing, testing in the human population, and even the final effect of a new medicine on the human population as a whole, biostatistics is important if not necessary. Medical researchers, doctors, and public health officials need biostatistics because they seek to cure illnesses and help save lives, but to know if they are actually being effective they have to do the math. Biostatistians help to find the links between lung cancer and smoking, childhood obesity and diabetes, mosquitoes and certain diseases among other problems. Without statistics the correlation between none of these could be determined, only guessed at. Biostatistics proves medicine makes the world a healthier place.

This leads to why I want to learn about biostatistics.  I aspire to eventually enter the field of academic dentistry (dental research) and just as biostatistics is highly applicable to medicine it is also very important to dentists and the field of dentistry. In fact, it is of such great importance that many dental schools now require a course in biostatistics and how it relates to dentistry. If I wanted to be a general dentist biostatistics would be important for me so that I would know the appropriate way to interpret statistical data when reading about a new technique or product I was considering using on patients. However, as someone who wants to go into the research side of dentistry it is far more important because as a researcher I will not only have to be able to interpret the statistical analysis already done by others and published, I will also need to be able to do such analysis myself. Interestingly, in 2014 there was a survey completed of faculty and post-graduate students at a dental school to see how biostatistics was perceived by dental professionals. In this study it was found that 69.8% of respondents believe knowing biostatistics will help their career. Further 64.3% of the respondents thought biostatistics was a difficult subject. I feel that since biostatistics is eventually going to be an integral part of my future career learning about biostatistics now will both help me eventually be a better dentist and dental researcher. Biostatistics applies to a large number of diverse fields and importantly it is useful in the field I hope to eventually research in, hence, I want to study biostatistics as should many others to whom this course is both useful and applicable.

Works Cited

“Biostatistics and Research Design.” College of Dentistry & Dental Clinics. University of Iowa, n.d. Web. 2 Sept. 2016.

Perception of Dental Professionals towards Biostatistics. International Scholarly Research Notices, 2014, 1–6. http://doi.org/10.1155/2014/291807

Schwartz, M. W., & Mantgem, P. van. (1997). The value of small preserves.

Smith, R. I., Dick, J. M., & Scott, E. M. (2011). The role of statistics in the analysis of ecosystem services. Environmetrics, 22(5), 608–617. http://doi.org/10.1002/env.1107

Uncpublichealth. “Careers in Biostatistics.” YouTube. YouTube, 14 Apr. 2010. Web. 02 Sept.

Why do we care about biostatistics?

Mariana A Mena Latuff
08/02/2016
Biostatistics in Real-Life and Importance
The importance and applications of biostatistics go back to the early developments of the field of genetics in which they served as a base for the new ideas of Charles Darwin who is well known as the father of genetics. Statistics have played an important role I biology ever since and they have expanded to areas and investigations like for example bioassays, epidemiology, surveys, human populations studies and even diagnosis of diseases. I have experience the importance of biostatistics while I was working on my research project, in which I experience the importance of managing and understanding variables, probabilities and other essential definitions and functions. The ability to successfully finish this project is definitely related to my goal in understanding biostatistics and how to apply it.
I started a research project alongside Dr. Mendez in West Palm Beach Good Samaritan Hospital this summer. One of the main obstacles I faced was understanding how to compare the variables and how to relate or create the results. Essentially the project studied the patency rate of the duration of Arteria-Venous Fistulas and Graft after a procedure called open thrombectomy basically done to de-clot the access once it was block by blood clots or calcifications. When I was trying to compare the duration of the access done in patients I struggle in finding a way in which I could divide them because all the patients have different conditions or illness commonly related to the need for an AVF, like for example diabetes, hypertension, use of tobacco, lupus or AIDS. It was really hard to relate all of this conditions because another big variable was the location of the AVF or AVG in which we could have bracio-cephalic, bracio-axillary, axillary-axillary loop, femoral, bracio-bracio loop, and basilic transposition. Given so many different factors the understanding of how biostatistics definitions or parameters can be apply to simplify the understanding and comparison of the research project. It is crucial to use this carefully because if we don’t use this properly it could have a great impact in the results of our investigation and we can report data and an analysis that is not accurate just because we failed at understanding the biostatistics of the project.
Like in the research project biostatistics has a wide variety of uses in the area of Medicine and medical investigations. Without understanding how to properly use variables, sample spaces, percentages etc. researchers wouldn’t be able to perform those studies were they can understand a population, a bacteria or some behaviors to the discovery of cures for illnesses. The role of biostatistics in the medical field are infinite, not only for treatment of diseases but also help us identify risk factors, design, monitor, and interpret results of clinical studies. Biostatistics also enables us to develop us the appropriate methods to address a question that involves public health data. This gives us an ultimate importance that the applications of biostatistics help us improve and understand the health of individuals or communities.
Other areas where biostatistics are very important in real-life applications, involve the prediction of weather forecast that enables us to study the accumulation of certain factors and what those mean in the likelihood of an event to occur or not. This related to biology because you have to understand the consequences of each weather factor and how the sum of this can reflect in the overall result.
In general we can agree that biostatistics plays a very important role in everyday life, it does not only had a great influence in the pas with the development of genetics but also has a great significance in modern medicine, pharmacology and other areas like meteorology. Even for a simple research project it is important to properly apply the rules and equations of biostatistics to have the correct results.

Why Do We Care About Biostatistics?

Biostatistics is a diverse field that can be used to acquire useful information about animal conservation, the progress of a disease and gain meaningful insight in to and compare data sets. Animal populations can be tracked over time to determine fluctuations in the health of the species. This data can be extrapolated to posit causes for fluctuations in population. The method by which drugs are approved for medical use is heavily based in biostatistics, requiring statistically significant therapeutic data with at least a 90% confidence interval1. Perhaps one of the most relevant uses currently is the tracking of disease progress, also known as epidemiology. As a hopeful future doctor, tracking a disease is a key part of public health, and something that is of great interest to me. With the recent Ebola outbreak, and the ongoing spread of the Zika virus, statistics and the conclusions garnered from them are being thrown out by the media on a near daily basis. Understanding biostatistics allows us to better understand the data being used and make our own critical assessment of the situation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was originally founded to track and eliminate malaria inside the continental US. Succeeding in that mission, the organization has been steadily expanded in to what it is today. The CDC tracks cases and compiles statistics for almost all diseases in America, as well as deaths due to common accidents (such as drunk driving). They monitor patterns of disease and injury and identify statistical surges in incidence so that they can advise the government and public. As resources are generally limited, it is important to know which diseases require the most attention to minimize the cost to quality of life. Addressing diseases early can also help reduce the medical costs of long-term care2.

The medical profession and medical insurance companies are able to use statistical analysis on data collected regarding treatment costs to show which diseases strain the healthcare system most, and focus their efforts on reducing the burden of these diseases in more cost-effective methods. This allows the recouped resources to be redirected to addressing other diseases. The conclusions garnered from this statistical analysis can also be used to help prioritize the allocation of research grants. Again, because of the limited resources available for medical research, knowing which diseases cause the most problems for a society is key. This is especially true for developing countries. The World Health Organization is a major force in addressing global health issues, as well as training local academia to build public health infrastructure, including epidemiologists and statisticians.

There is the threat of a diabetes epidemic looming over India. As the country continues to urbanize and modernize, the average Indian diet begins to shift toward the high-fat, high sugar form of the typical American. Biostatistics is currently being used to track what measures to reduce the risk can be the most effective, as well as characterize who is most at risk. In a country with a population that exceeds 1 billion, it is important to know which demographics are most at risk. Urban centers, where the population is high and data is more easily collected appear to be at risk, as their occupations are generally more sedentary in nature, and they have access to cheap, unhealthy foods. With such a large population, rural data is harder to come by, but initial studies indicate that certain areas of the country are at a higher risk due to food shortages, and a lack of access to healthcare3. Continued study and characterization of the overall situation necessitates the use of statistical analysis.

The demographics of disease are often a starting point for understanding how to prevent and disrupt its proliferation. Using rudimentary statistical analysis over a map of London, Dr. John Snow was able to determine the source of cholera infections and end an outbreak in 1854. Even more impressively, he did this without knowing the actual cause of cholera, with the popular theory at the time being “bad air”. Dr. Snow identified specific infectious water pumps based on the distribution of cholera deaths and infections in a given area. He then used the data he had collected to convince the local government to remove the pump handle. The outbreak subsided sharply following this. The findings of John Snow, and later William Farr, helped to substantiate the idea that diseases could be water-borne4.

It is my hope that while attending medical school I will be admitted in to an MD/ MPH combination program, allowing me to gain a master’s in public health. Biostatistics in the form of epidemiology will be an important part of such a degree, and I believe that understanding demographics and the progress of disease in a population will help me to be a better physician. Should I ever decide to be a part of conducting a clinical trial, an understanding of the statistical concepts will position me well to understand and contribute to the interpretation and presentation of the data. Biostatistics will continue to be important for both myself and for real-world applications.

1. Green, S. J. & Pauler, D. K. Statistics in clinical trials. Curr. Oncol. Rep. 6, 36–41 (2004).
2. Green, L. W. Public Health Asks of Systems Science: To Advance Our Evidence-Based Practice, Can You Help Us Get More Practice-Based Evidence? Am. J. Public Health 96, 406–409 (2006).
3. Diamond, J. Medicine: Diabetes in India. Nature 469, 478–479 (2011).
4. Fine, P. et al. John Snow’s legacy: epidemiology without borders. Lancet 381, 1302–1311 (2013).

Why do we care about biostatistics?

Biostatistics is the application of statistics to a range of topics in biology and thus plays a critical role in everyday life, especially in modern medicine. Biostatistics is responsible for interpreting scientific data in the biological sciences. It allows researchers to convert data to useful information, such as determining whether or not a treatment will work. An example of why biostatistics is so important is the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death in America today. This statistic was brought to because of applied biostatistics. In 1948, little was known about the cause of heart attacks, and researchers started a study called the Framingham Heart Study. The study followed 5,209 people who had not yet developed cardiovascular disease or had a stroke or heart attack. The researchers followed the participants for a long period of time to determine the main causes of these cardiovascular conditions. The study provided the medical world with concrete conclusions, such as risk factors and the odds of somebody acquiring such diseases. These conclusions about cardiovascular disease and heart attacks were determined because of applied biostatistics of the data collected throughout the study (“What is the role of biostatistics in modern medicine?,” 2011). The use of biostatistics in real world problems is critical because it is the way to prove and confirm the findings. It is undeniable that any medical research study utilizes biostatistics from beginning to end.
Biostatistics is incorporated in the research I am currently working on with Dr. Walsh in relation to her General Biology II course. The purpose of this project is to assess the learning gains of an authentic course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) against the previously used traditional laboratory sequence. undergraduates in one section of General Biology II will participate in an authentic research project examining the role of the gene lin28a in zebrafish regeneration, while the other two sections of General Biology II will employ a traditional laboratory sequence. The study will be administered via Qualtrics using validated questions from three different publications: the Laboratory Course Assessment Survey (LCAS; Corwin, Runyon, Robinson, & Dolan, 2015), the Experimental Design Ability Test (EDAT; Sirum & Humburg, 2011), and the Project Ownership Survey (POS; Hanauer & Dolan, 2014). The EDAT was administered as a pretest in class on the first day of lab and will be given as a posttest in class on the last day of lab. The purpose of the EDTA is to measure the changes in the students’ ability to assess scientific information and design their own experiments. I will score the EDAT tests and use a nonparametric test, the One-sample Wilcoxon test, to analyze the data. Statistical analysis of the results will performed using Minitab 15 Statistical Software and correlation analyses will be performed using STATISTICA (EDAT; Sirum & Humburg, 2011). The LCAS and POS will only be utilized in class on the last day of lab. The LCAS is useful to compare CUREs versus traditional laboratory sequences and to measure students’ perceptions of course design and major design features: 1) collaboration, 2) discovery and relevance, and 3) iteration (LCAS; Corwin, Runyon, Robinson, & Dolan, 2015). I will compare and score the survey responses from students in CUREs versus traditional lab courses by using t tests. The purpose of POS is to assess project ownership and the gains students make from participating in undergraduate research (POS; Hanauer & Dolan, 2014). Factor analysis of the data will be conducted.
This research which includes statistical analysis is extremely relevant to me as a Biology major. I will gain practical experience that I can utilize in the future. By using biostatistics, we will be able to determine if an authentic course-based undergraduate research project provides students with more academic and personal benefits than a traditional laboratory sequence. This research will aid in determining whether or not the General Biology curriculum should shift towards more authentic, hands on, research projects rather than the traditional laboratory sequences currently in place.

What is the role of biostatistics in modern medicine? (2011). Retrieved August 31, 2016, from http://health.howstuffworks.com/medicine/modern-treatments/biostatistics-in-modern-medicine.htm

Corwin, L.A., Runyon, C., Robinson, A., and Dolan, E.L. (2015b). The Laboratory Course Assessment Survey: A Tool to Measure Three Dimensions of Research-Course Design. Cell Biol. Educ. 14, ar37–ar37.

Hanauer, D.I., and Dolan, E.L. (2014). The Project Ownership Survey: Measuring Differences in Scientific Inquiry Experiences. Cell Biol. Educ. 13, 149–158.

Sirum, K., and Humburg, J. (2011). The Experimental Design Ability Test (EDAT). 8.