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What is a Biostatistician?

Also known as: Pharmaceutical Biostatistician, Research Biostatistician.

A biostatistician is someone who uses or applies mathematics and statistics to varying categories in biology. They design biological experiments primarily in the field of agriculture and medicine; they collect, dissect, and summarize the data, and release information based on the findings of that data. They are a critical addition to any research team and are often involved in the writing of papers on groundbreaking topics and research. They work on methods in applied and theoretical statistics in order to advance the science of data analysis beyond current levels.

What does a Biostatistician do?

Anytime statistics like “75% of people who smoke develop lung cancer," are heard, one can be sure that the hard work of a biostatistician was behind it. These highly trained and educated people analyze and study the determining factors that impact the health and well-being of people, plants, and animals in order to arrive at conclusions about disorders, disease, or other health risks. With this information, a biostatistician can study the effects of various treatments based on the findings and numbers of the analysis.

Biostatisticians devise studies in order to determine risk factors for certain things, deciding which elements should be discarded and which should be included. They review the data that was collected and issue papers or reports to various agencies or employers on the findings of the data. They will sometimes be asked to determine the factors involved in certain medical problems and how much, if any, risk exists for certain treatments for those problems. Using mathematics, they may determine a probable cause for the biological or medical situation that they are being asked to study.

Pharmaceutical companies use biostatisticians during their clinical studies to determine how effective or ineffective a certain drug is on the human population. In addition to creating new data, a biostatistician will sometimes evaluate current data on a particular subject to determine possible outcomes for the purpose of shaping public health policies and education. Biostatisticians often gather necessary data before an experiment can take place, gather data during the experimental stag,; and gather data after the experiments are over in order to determine the level of real world success or failure.

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How to become a Biostatistician

A person wishing to have a career in the biostatistics field must first have a four-year degree in mathematics, statistics, or biostatistics. Having a minor in a particular field of study such as cell biology, forestry, veterinary science, and so on, will greatly increase the chances of someone hoping to get into the field. A masters or PhD is commonly required for one to get hired as a biostatistician, so graduate school is a must. Courses in analysis of categorical data, probability, linear regression, randomized clinical trials, and statistical interference, are all necessary.

A person seeking a career in biostatistics must be innovative and inquisitive. Being able to see the potential reason for a problem and coming up with unconventional ways in which to gather necessary data is crucial to the work of a biostatistician. Working well under pressure is another needed attribute in this field because biostatisticians are results-oriented, and usually under some form of time constraints.

Good communication skills, both oral and written, as well as an extreme attention to detail, are qualities required for work in this field. With so much data, biostatisticians must make sure that all data is not only kept in order but also that the data can be understood by other biostatisticians and scientists. Being able to stand in front of people and give reports and/or recommendations is also an important attribute.

Another requisite, yet understated trait of a biostatistician, is patience. Data collection can be long and tedious, and having the ability to be patient and not rush the findings is extremely important for accurate results in the end. Having a firm grasp on how to use database management systems, particularly ones that use Oracle Clinical, which is commonly used in clinical trial situations, is also necessary for a person in the biostatistics field.

What is the workplace of a Biostatistician like?

A person in the biostatistics field will find employment in universities, government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, medical corporations, and agricultural firms. They will often work as a part of a team of scientists during typical office working hours, 40 hours per week. Nights and weekends would not be an issue unless a deadline needs to be met. People in this profession are usually stationed in comfortable offices, though travel may be necessary to confer with other scientists.

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