Lisa Sullivan - American Statistical Association

Report
Why Statisticians are in High Demand….
Statistics Career Day
March 12, 2011
Lisa M. Sullivan
Associate Dean for Education
Professor and Chair, Department of Biostatistics
Boston University School of Public Health
Boston University School of Public Health
Opportunities in Biostatistics
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 Demand for qualified biostatisticians
currently exceeds supply and this is
expected to grow
 Career options offer flexibility, exciting and
rewarding work, opportunities to work with
professionals in other disciplines, high job
satisfaction, competitive salaries
Boston University School of Public Health
For Today’s Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics
By Steve Lohr, Published: NY Times, August 5, 2009
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At Harvard, Carrie Grimes majored in anthropology and
archaeology and ventured to places like Honduras, where she
studied Mayan settlement patterns by mapping where artifacts were
found. But she was drawn to what she calls “all the computer and
math stuff” that was part of the job.
Carrie Grimes, senior staff engineer at Google, uses statistical
analysis of data to help improve the company's search engine.
“People think of field archaeology as Indiana Jones, but much of
what you really do is data analysis,” she said. She uses statistical
analysis of mounds of data to come up with ways to improve its
search engine.
Boston University School of Public Health
For Today’s Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics
Ms. Grimes is an Internet-age statistician, one of many who are
changing the image of the profession as a place for dronish number
nerds. They are finding themselves increasingly in demand — and
even cool.
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“I keep saying that the sexy job in the next 10 years will be
statisticians,” said Hal Varian, chief economist at Google. “And I’m
not kidding.”
The rising stature of statisticians, who can earn $125,000 at
top companies in their first year after getting a doctorate, is a
byproduct of the recent explosion of digital data
Boston University School of Public Health
For Today’s Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics
In field after field, computing and the Web are creating new
realms of data to explore — sensor signals, surveillance tapes,
social network chatter, public records and more. And the digital
data surge only promises to accelerate, rising fivefold by 2012,
according to a projection by IDC, a research firm.
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The new breed of statisticians tackle these problem. They use
powerful computers and sophisticated mathematical models to hunt
for meaningful patterns and insights in vast troves of data. The
applications are as diverse as improving Internet search and online
advertising, culling gene sequencing information for cancer
research and analyzing sensor and location data to optimize the
handling of food shipments.
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What is Biostatistics?
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 Application of statistical principles to medical,
public health and biological applications
 Collecting, summarizing, interpreting
information and making inferences that
appropriately account for uncertainty
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Important Questions
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 What are the causes, prevention
and treatment of autism, childhood obesity,
asthma, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular
disease?
 Is disease preventable with behavior change
and modification of risk factors?
 Are new drugs safe and effective?
 How do genes affect health and longevity?
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Biostatisticians are Critical
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 Design studies
 Consider ethical implications
 Work effectively in interdisciplinary teams
 Analyze data
 Interpret results
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Understanding Data
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Issues for Biostatisticians
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 Children - Obesity, Immunizations, Asthma,
Autism…..
 Adolescents – Alcohol & Tobacco Use, Depression,
STDs, Traffic Accidents….
 Adults – Cancer, CVD, Substance Abuse, HIV/AIDS,
Mental Health…
 What is #1 killer of men and women in US?
 What are the risk factors?
Boston University School of Public Health
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Boston University School of Public Health
The Framingham Heart Study
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 5000+ men and women enrolled in 1948
 Longitudinal cohort study
 Exams every 2 years for cardiovascular risk
factors - surveillance
 Ancillary studies – hearing, exercise, nutrition,
neurological studies
 5000+ offspring & spouses enrolled in 1976
 Third generation enrolled in 2002
Boston University School of Public Health
Framingham Heart Study
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Framingham Study Risk Functions
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 Risk prediction models
 Predict likelihood that a person will have coronary heart
disease in the next 10 years
 Models designed to include risk factors that are
readily available
 Age, blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, diabetes,
treatment for hypertension & high cholesterol, obesity
Risk Calculator
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Boston
University
Biostatistics
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Boston
University
Biostatistics
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Clinical Trial in Children with Autism
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 Autism-brain disorder usually diagnosed before
age 3 that affects communication, social
interaction, and creative play.
 Trial to assess the efficacy of drug treatment in
reducing repetitive behaviors
 Children randomized to receive study drug or
placebo
Boston University School of Public Health
Clinical Trial in Children with Autism
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 144 children with autism aged 5-17 years followed
every 2 weeks for 12 weeks for improvements in
repetitive behaviors
 Issues
 Medication compliance
 Measurement of outcome (child, parent, teacher)
 Ethical issues
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Effect of Alcohol Exposure in Pregnancy
on SIDS
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 Assess relationship between alcohol and SIDS
 Issues
 Measuring alcohol exposure
 Measuring other environmental risk factors
 Ethical Issues – e.g., Autopsies
 Study of 12,000 pregnant women in Northern
Plains and Cape Town
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SIDS – Unexplained infant death before 1
year of life
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 SIDS – 0.57/1000 in US
3.4/1000 in Northern Plains
3.5/1000 in Cape Town
 In US – 13% of women report drinking alcohol in
pregnancy
58% in Northern Plains
41% in Cape Town
Boston University School of Public Health
Study Team
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Obstetricians
Dysmorphologists
Psychologists
Physiologists
Pathologists
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Biostatisticians
Difficult Issues
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Recruiting participants
Getting reliable information
Managing data
Understanding the link between alcohol and SIDS
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Biostatisticians at Work
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 Work with environmental health specialists to
identify the health effects of exposure to
pollutants and hazardous waste
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Biostatisticians at Work
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 Work with physicians and epidemiologists to
find disease “clusters” and to determine
causes of disease
Women with
breast cancer,
Women free of
breast cancer
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Biostatisticians at Work
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 Work with pharmaceutical companies to
determine whether drugs are safe and
effective
Boston University School of Public Health
Biostatisticians at Work
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 Work with obstetricians to determine risk
factors for poor perinatal outcomes
 Preterm delivery
 Low birth weight
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South Africa: Cape Point
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Safari
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Careers
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Pharmaceutical Industry – Clinical Trials
Medical Research Studies
Biotechnology
Government
Academia
Health Insurance
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Training/Skills
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Mathematics-Statistics-Biostatistics
Public Health/Biology
Computer Skills
Communication Skills
Analytic Skills
Organizational Skills
Attention to Detail
Desire to Work on Important Health Problems
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Academic Programs at BU (www.bu.edu)
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 BA in Mathematics/Statistics
 Minor in Applied Statistics
 Summer Institute for Training in
Biostatistics (http://sph.bu.edu/sibs)
 MA in Biostatistics
 PhD in Biostatistics
Boston University School of Public Health

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