Biometry & Biostatistics at the Faculty of Statistics
The area of biometry / biostatistics has occupied a central place in the Faculty of Statistics since its foundation in 1973. Its important role is underlined by the direct assignment of three professorships as well as the involvement of several other chairs in research projects with biostatistical issues.
The Department of Statistics contributes to teaching, research and consulting in many areas of biometrics / biostatistics. For a more detailed description of research projects, see the link Research Areas in Biostatistics.
In the statistics program, biometrics is by far the most frequently chosen major from the choices of biometrics, econometrics, technometrics, and official statistics. More than one-third of statistics graduates work in key positions in the development and application of biostatistical methods after graduation, both in university and non-university settings, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, contract research organizations, the health sector, and universities and research institutes.
Biostatistics deals with a wide variety of issues. Historically, biostatistics was initially understood to mean statistical theory and methods for describing, analyzing, and interpreting biological data. Today, we see a much broader field of activity in biometrics with applications in all life sciences, especially in medicine and bioinformatics.
The division of the field of biometrics / biostatistics into the main areas of clinical statistics, epidemiology, toxicology and bioinformatics includes overlaps and does not cover all contributions of the Faculty of Statistics, but can be used as a basis for presenting our work. For example, Personalized Medicine and Genetic Epidemiology address the role of genetic factors in Clinical Statistics and Epidemiology. Liver toxicology issues also play an important role. Modern bioinformatics methods are often required for analysis.
In clinical statistics, the effect of clinical variables on the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases is investigated. In clinical trials, this is done in a controlled experimental environment. Clinical trials are a prerequisite for the approval of all prescription drugs in most countries.
In epidemiology, the influence of various factors on disease and health in individuals and in populations is studied. Unlike clinical statistics, this is not done in a controlled setting, but usually through observational studies. For example, one would like to determine the influence of smoking on cancer risk. Epidemiology consequently plays an important role in health promotion.
Bioinformatics is a broad field of research and is essentially concerned with the analysis of biological data at the molecular level. Numerous new experimental techniques are continuously being developed for the analysis of genetic and genomic data, in which innumerable features are measured simultaneously. This hypothesis-generating character of molecular biology experiments constantly places new demands on the statistical analysis of experimental results.
Toxicology studies the toxicity of substances, usually depending on the concentration or amount of the substances in question. Statistical objectives include modeling the effect of substances as a function of concentration and identifying critical limits for concentration. Toxicology plays an important role both for clinical trials in drug dose finding and in epidemiology in the study of health indicators. The growing amount of available molecular, often high-dimensional data, leads to new statistical challenges in modeling correlations, especially for environmental and occupational toxicology issues.