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

Current students who wish to delve deeper into a subspecialty within Biostatistics can use concentration and School-wide electives to focus their studies in an emphasis area. Emphasis areas and courses are continually evolving to meet the needs of the field; for this reason, students are encouraged to consult with their advisors to help decide if an emphasis is right for them and suggest which courses to take within that emphasis. Career Services can also help students to determine if an emphasis area (and which) best aligns with their career goals.

Prospective students should contact the Department of Biostatistics staff for additional information about emphasis areas.

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.

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.

Statistical Genetics Emphasis

The Statistical Genetics emphasis focuses on statistical techniques for the analysis of genetic data, as genetics play an important role in many diseases and conditions, and specialized techniques are required to analyze these data appropriately.

Statistical Computing Emphasis

The Statistical Computing emphasis focuses on statistical techniques for the analysis of medical and public health data.