Biostatistics – An Overview

Dr Anuj ParkashWritten by | BIOSTATISTICS, GENERAL

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Statistical revolution in biology started with the work of Karl Pearson in the 1890s. Charles Darwin documented biological variation as a fundamental aspect of life and gave a theory of the “Survival of the Fittest”. Galton started a biometrical laboratory in London and measured family’s data through advertisement. Galton independently sought to bring mathematical diligence into the biological science through the study of patterns of numbers. A book “Statistical Methods for Research Workers” written by Frank Yates and Ronald Fisher in 1925 get popularizes as it was about the graphs and its interpretation. The concept of degrees of freedom, random experiments, and role of chance is given by RA Fisher. He is known as the father of modern statistics, got this idea while attending a high-tea party at Cambridge University in 1920. He has given this example in his book Design of Experiments.

A lady declares that by tasting a cup of tea made with milk she can discriminate whether the milk or the tea infusion was first added to the cup. — Fisher, 1935

Fisher uses statistical significance concept and introduced null hypothesis by assuming that her claim is true. He started an experiment consists in mixing eight cups of tea, four in one way and four in the other, and presenting them to the lady for judgment in a random order. The lady tasted all cups of tea correctly and there he got a concept that every event is not by chance.

Biostatistics is an innovative science which involves the collection, summarization, analysis, and interpretation of data from public health, medicine, animal science and agriculture.  A main branch of biostatistics is medical biostatistics, which is dealing with medicine, treatment and patient health. Biostatistics as a subject is mandatory in almost all postgraduate level programs.  Epidemiology, Bioinformatics, and Clinical trials are the extramural unit of biostatistics. Some technologies such as microarrays, next-generation sequencers, mass spectrometry etc generate huge amounts of data that can only be analyzed using biostatistical methods.

Biostatistics plays very important role in research. It adds fresh perspective in your study. Get your statistician involved as soon as you begin to plan your study. In my next blog, I will talk about statistical summaries…

Disclaimer: The pictures used in this blog is for education purpose only with no commercial usage. 

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Last modified: 21/11/2019

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