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!

 

Resources

 

  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

 

 

 

Why do we care about biostatistics?

Jessica Kopenhaver

Biostatistics: Why Does It Even Matter?

I asked myself the same question before I enrolled for this class. I’m a senior biochemistry major, so that of course means I have no idea what course my life will be taking in the next year, let alone what is the correct career path for me. I have some inkling of what I’d like to pursue: screening for genetic diseases, researching different pharmacological methods to inhibit the spread of cancer, or perhaps even going into biological anthropology and testing the genetic matter of ancient homo sapiens. Regardless of where or in what field I wish to be employed, I had figured that biostatistics would be virtually useless to me. However, upon further inspection I determined that not only is biostatistics relevant in nearly all of the career paths which interest me, it is vital.

Although I do not believe medical school is in the books for me personally, medical students need to be able to understand the core principles of biostatistics and be able to apply them in the field. This is an essential skill for all prospective physicians to master in order to be knowledgeable about, for example, patients’ chances of developing cancer at a young age, or which populations of the world are at the most risk for contracting communicable diseases. An article describing training methods for clinical oncological researchers describes this very need. The article stated that the trainees in this particular field had received a rudimentary education in the subject, but their post-graduate work required them to have a better grasp on biostatical skills and research methodology. Reading this made me realize that conducting research in oncological pharmaceuticals or genetic screening will require me to either directly perform the biostatistics myself, or to collaborate with a biostatistician. I would need to use biostatistics most likely in order to develop some kind of control or starting place in order to begin my research. For example, if I were researching a drug which remedied a mutation in a certain type of cancer patient, I would want to pursue research in a drug that worked on the most patients, not a drug that could only cure a rare mutation which affected a very small subset of this certain cancer’s victims. Being able to derive the probability that most people with this cancer have the same cancerous mutation would not only save time for myself, but also save money for my employer.

Another reason the use of biostatistics in any of my future careers would be very important is the fact that I will need to demonstrate that my research methods are scientifically valid. The FDA will tend to employ data monitoring committees, or DMCs, when beginning clinical trials for pharmaceuticals, especially high profile cases where the biological risks are usually greater. DMCs are usually composed of biostaticians and clinicians who are hired separately from the trial sponsor in order to maintain objectivity. The role of these members is to ensure that the research behind the clinical trials has been conducted correctly, and perhaps most importantly, can be supported by mathematical data that the drug is worth investing millions of dollars in. If I was working as a researcher in one of these high profile cases, I would want to be able to prove to these DMCs that I had the properly supported data before embarking on the research. If not, I could lose grant money or maybe even my job.

Another possible career path I may choose to pursue is microbiology. As a potential microbiologist, I will need to be able to determine things like the rate at which a colony of bacteria grows, or the true count of a population.  To do this, I would need the knowledge of determining things like standard deviation and the mean. Overall, it is clear that wherever I go, biostatistics will follow. Not only is it something that could give me an edge in the field, but it could save me from making costly experimental errors that could cost me my job.

 

 

 

Resources

  1. Turner, S., Sundaresan, P., Mann, K., Pryor, D., Gebski, V., and Shaw, T. (2016). Engaging Future Clinical Oncology Researchers: An Initiative to Integrate Teaching of Biostatistics and Research Methodology into Specialty Training. Clin. Oncol. 28, 306–316.
  2. Lin, J.Y., and Lu, Y. (2014). Establishing a data monitoring committee for clinical trials.             Shanghai Arch. Psychiatry 26, 54–56.
  3. Paulson, Daryl S. Biostatistics and Microbiology: A Survival Manual. New York, NY: Springer, 2008. Springer Link. Springer New York. Web. 1 Sept. 2016.

 

 

Why do we care about Biostatistics?

Austin Jackson
Professor Zeynep Teymuroglu
Biostatistics
August 28th, 2016
How does Biostatics relate to my degree and real life applications?
To start Biostatics is a constantly growing field; as it keeps emerging as a new field of study encompassing such disciplines from science to math. Biostatistics can be defined as “a branch of statistics responsible for the proper interpretation of scientific data generated in the biology, public health and other health sciences (i.e., the biomedical sciences).” (What Is Biostatistics?) Although, biostatics is a field that requires being able to distinguish correlation and causation, and ultimately be able to detangle and distinguish correlations found within a certain population studied or data set studied. Which is why it directly correlates to me as a biology undergraduate student, because by taking biostatistics I will be able to further gain insight on how to make educated inferences and correlations based specific data being studied. Ultimately, biostatistics can be applied to our everyday lives in such ways like comparing and contrasting the quality of life in three different areas. Through the usage of biostatics in this specific scenario one can conclude and predict future possible outcomes of the quality of life for those three specific areas.
Biostatistics can ultimately help me reach my goal to becoming a doctor because biostatistics plays a key role in many facets of the health industry. One such way biostatistics relates to the health industry is through the containment and prediction of outbreaks of diseases or Viruses. Professor Ryan- the Chair of the Department of Biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health discussed the outbreak of the flu and said that by “Using statistics, we are able to predict what the usual behavior of something like winter flu would be, and then to understand the variations on normal behavior that are likely.” (Using Biostatistics to Detect Disease Outbreaks) He then went on to explain that by using statistics to fight outbreaks, statisticians are able to advice such decision-makers like the Center for Disease Control (CDC) who contain these outbreaks on where to designate most of there resources to fight the outbreak. Conclusively, biostatistics plays a vital role because it helps locate epicenters of diseases’ and the origins of the outbreaks themselves.
Biostatistics is also used in the field of pharmacology such as testing the effectiveness of a specific drug due to the relative potency of a new drug with respect to a standard drug. Also, one can compare the action of two different drugs or successive dosages of the same drug. To ultimately, figure out the moderate dosage to take. Thus, by using biostatistics one can look at the percentage cured, relieved or died in the experiment to identify the effectiveness of the drug. (Jack) Although, not only does biostatistics apply to pharmacology and medicine, but it also applies distribution of health disparities among social classes. An example would be testing the disparities of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes among different social classes. In the end, there are multiple ways that biostatistics can be applied to our everyday lives.
Biostatistics as facet of science and math further allows us to make predictions and conclusions based on a specific set of data. As data in reality brings upon educated conclusions upon whatever you’re studying in life. In hindsight biostatistics for me is going to help me achieve my goals in the field of medicine because it will help me gain knowledge in compiling, concluding, and explaining what my data means to my peers. Ultimately, this will be a skill that will never be unused in my future everyday profession.

Work Cited

Jack, Jippy. “Application of Biostatistics.” Slide Share. Linked In, 30 Dec. 2014. Web. 31
Aug. 2015.
“Using Biostatistics to Detect Disease Outbreaks.” Phys Org, Science X Network, 15
July 2008, http://phys.org/news/2008-07-biostatistics-disease-outbreaks.html. Accessed 28 Aug. 2016.
“What Is Biostatistics?” Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University,
2015, medschool.vanderbilt.edu/biostatistics/content/what-biostatistics. Accessed 28 Aug. 2016.

Why do we care about Biostatistics

Kylie Pillard
Biostatistics is related to real-life applications and to my own goal as a biology major in many ways. As a biology major biostatistics is important to me because when I graduate I want to go into some kind of medical research and eventually go to graduate school to become a physician assistant. Biostatistics can be applied to many different fields, it is an essential tool for any medical research, clinical decision making, and health management. Therefore knowledge in biostatistics is essential in order to be successful in any of these careers that relate to biomedical research. Also a very important part of the biology major is being able to design experiments, conduct research and analyze and interpret data which are also all important parts of Biostatistics.
Biostatistics is a branch of applied statistics that is taught with a focus on biomedical research. It can be seen in everyday life without most people even realizing it. Whenever someone talks about the risks of getting certain diseases such as cancer or heart disease, that is based off of statistical data on medical research. Researchers use statistical tests to determine results from clinical trials and experiments. One way that biostatistics is applied to real-life is the use of statistics in medicine and public health provides the public with ways of better understanding the risks for certain diseases. However, biostatistics is applied to many different fields including, bioassay, demography, epidemiology, clinical trials, surveys of human populations, community diagnosis, bio-mathematical modelling, etc… It is critical to medical research in all different fields because it converts crucial data into useful information that can be used by physicians and researchers. Satiations design all the studies that help to provide evidence and prove hypotheses about different medical research. This is done by collecting data, summarizing data, and interpreting data. For example, if there is a drug company that wants to design a drug they can’t just assume that it will work, it has to be tested on humans first in order to see if it has an effect. Statisticians will design the study that will help to prove and provide evidence that the drug might work. they will decide how many patients they will need, what the expected result will be, and they do all the design stage and analysis. This is an example of how biostatistics is used in real life by converting data into important information.
Biostatistics is also critical to medical research because it teaches you how to properly interpret scientific data that is generated. Being able to interpret statistical data is very important for many fields that deal with medical research. For example, epidemiology uses biostatistics and research to make conclusions about diseases in certain groups and populations and it helps find the causes and risks of certain diseases. Medical statistics helps researchers arrive at certain conclusions about a hypotheses and many physicians use their data and results in their decision making. Critical reviewers of biomedical literature have continued to dine that more than half of the published articles that used statistical methods contain errors. Because so many medical journals contain statistical data it is very important that people know how to interpret it correctly. The demand for biostatistics is really strong right now because it is so critical to all of medical research and medical research is expanding with the ability to extract data from very large databases.

Work Cited

Sathian Brijesh Sathian. “Importance of Biostatistics to Improve the Quality of Medical Journals.” WebmedCentral.com. N.p., 2014. Web. 02 Sept. 2016.

Kiliç, İbrahim, and Bülent Çelİk. “The Views of Academic Staff on Biostatistics Education in Health
Sciences.” International Journal of Health Sciences 7.2 (2013): 142–149. Print.

TomorrowsMed. “Biostatisticians: Do You Know What They Do?” YouTube. YouTube, 21 July 2013.
Web. 02 Sept. 2016.