Biostatistics

Biostatisticians play a critical role in studies of risk factors for disease, in assessing safety and efficacy of new therapies in clinical trials, and in the evaluation of patient outcomes. The results of these studies have public health and policy implications. From discussions with investigators about fine-tuning research questions to developing appropriate study designs, planning and implementing proper statistical analyses and writing up the results, biostatisticians are involved in all aspects of research investigations.

The Master of Public Health program with a concentration in biostatistics provides students with the knowledge and skills to plan and evaluate study designs, to map out and implement appropriate statistical methods for data analysis, and to draw valid conclusions from analytical results. Students will gain practical skills that can be applied immediately in a variety of career pathways as well as the breadth and depth of knowledge that will provide a foundation for understanding the goals of quantitative research. Graduates are prepared for further study or for careers in research and project management in academia, government, or the private sector.

Students can further develop their skills by participating in departmental research. Opportunities include the Clinical Trials Working Group, the Framingham Heart Study Working Group, Statistical Genetics Working Group, and the New England Centenarian Study.

Competencies

In addition to the program competencies that all MPH students master, upon completing the requirements for the MPH in Biostatistics, graduates are able to:

  • analyze data from observational studies, clinical trials, epidemiological studies, medical surveys, and evaluations of health care programs using statistical programming software
  • identify potential sources of bias and confounding in study design, and develop analytic and design strategies to minimize these effects
  • interpret and communicate the results and limitations of statistical analyses of public health data in both technical and nontechnical terms

Emphasis Areas

Students who wish to delve deeper into a specific area of Biostatistics can use concentration and School-wide electives to focus their studies in one of four emphasis areas. Your advisor can help you decide if an emphasis is right for you and suggest which courses to take within that emphasis. For full program details, please visit the Biostatistics Concentrator’s Guide. Prospective students should contact the Department of Biostatistics staff for additional information.

Clinical Trials Emphasis

The Clinical Trials emphasis focuses on the design and conduct of clinical trials, the principal study design for the development of new drugs, devices, and behavioral treatments. Courses prepare students to design trials and to conduct appropriate statistical analysis of clinical trials. This emphasis prepares students to work in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industry as project directors, statistical programmers, and data managers.

Observational Studies Emphasis

The Observational Studies emphasis focuses on statistical techniques for observational and epidemiological studies such as the Framingham Heart Study, the principal study design for investigating associations between environmental and behavioral risk factors and health outcomes. Courses prepare students to develop and implement appropriate statistical analysis plans and to appropriately interpret results. This emphasis prepares students to work in medical research, academia, or government as project directors, statistical programmers, and data managers.

Statistical Genetics Emphasis

The Statistical Genetics emphasis focuses on statistical techniques for the analysis of genetic data. Genetics play an important role in many diseases and conditions, and specialized techniques are required to analyze these data appropriately. Courses prepare students to develop and implement appropriate statistical analysis plans for genetics data, generated with cutting-edge techniques and technologies. This emphasis prepares students to work in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industry, in addition to academia or government, in a number of positions including statistical programmers and data managers.

Statistical Computing Emphasis

The Statistical Computing emphasis focuses on statistical techniques for the analysis of medical and public health data. Statisticians play an important role in research and project teams and appropriate techniques to analyze complex datasets are critical. Courses prepare students to develop and implement appropriate statistical analysis plans, using cutting-edge techniques and applications. Various statistical computing packages are emphasized, preparing students to work effectively in a variety of settings as statistical programmers, data managers, or project directors.