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Title Role of Biostatistician in Medical Research
Year NA
Contributor/Contact MadhuMazumdar
CTSA Cornell
Success Topic Collaboration
Description of Success
*Biomedical researchers should involve biostatisticians as their close collaborators because the following reasons.*

1. Their close collaboration/interaction can lead to 1+1>2 results. Biostatisticians often carries out more comprehensive analysis of the data and provide appropriate interpretation of the analysis results which are typically not feasible by the researchers themselves. Such analysis starts with testing researcherís initial hypotheses but can often evolve into testing new hypothesis based on intriguing signals picked up by the biostatistician. The biostatisticians are equipped to test such new hypothesis in a proper way. Such comprehensive analysis can sometimes lead to surprising and yet interesting biological findings which expands the scope of the original study and sometimes lead to new grant opportunities. The finding that Celecoxib (a COX-2 inhibitor) shunts arachidonic acid into the 5-Lipoxygenase pathway [1] was a result of such close collaboration. This finding offers a potential explanation for the cardiovascular side effects of the drug and became the basis for an ongoing phase II clinical trial aiming to reducing such side effects.

2. Close collaboration between biomedical researchers and biostatisticians can lead to new biostatical methods that more properly address the research question. With the rapid progress in bio-technologies, more studies are generating more complex data where available statistical methodology may not be adequate to address. Biostatisticians have the training to identify such deficiency in available methods and can develop new more appropriate methods. Such methods sometimes can expand the scope of questions the clinical/lab researchers can ask. For example, in a recent microarray study [2] examining the effects of tobacco smoke on the oral mucosa, the researcher was interested in identifying genes associated with the interaction between smoking and gender. The biostatistician found that current available methods do not offer a coherent approach to address such a question. This results in a new method for analyzing observational microarray data [3]. This new approach provides a coherent framework to identify simultaneously genes associated with one or multiple sample characteristics or their interactions.

3. Such close collaboration lead to more efficient research infrastructure and speed up the time to discovery. By integrating a biostatistician in a project, the time to discovery can be shortened in several critical steps of the project, study design, data preparation, data analysis and manuscript preparation. Current biomedical, particularly translational studies, often involve a series of in vitro, in vivo experiments and can evolve into clinical human studies. Such studies generates large amount diverse form of data which require to be properly handled by different analytical methods. A close collaborative relationship between a biomedical researcher and the biostatistician can avoid many avoidable trial and errors in protocol preparation, study design, data preparation, data analysis, results interpretation, etc., thus speed up the discovery. For example, a recent project examining the role of inflammation-COX-aromatase axis in breast cancer risk involves a series of clinical and laboratory studies. Having a close collaborative biostatistician allowed the project to proceed in a fast pace even though a series of experiments need to be properly designed and large amounts of data need to be properly analyzed and interpreted. This project has already resulted in three publications ( an additional one is under revision for resubmission)[4-7], three grants, an expansion to additional cancer sites and thus potential future grant opportunities.


1. Duffield-Lillico AJ, Boyle JO, Zhou XK, Ghosh A, Butala GS, Subbaramaiah K, Newman RA, Milne GL, Morrow JD and Dannenberg AJ (2009), "Levels of Prostaglandin E Metabolite and Leukotriene E4 Are Increased in the Urine of Smokers. Evidence that Celecoxib Shunts Arachidonic Acid into the 5-Lipoxygenase Pathway.", Cancer Prevention Research, 2 (4): 322-9.

2. Boyle JO, Gumus ZH, Kacker A, Chooksi VL, Bocker JM, Zhou, XK, Yantiss RK, Hughes D, Du B, Judson BL, Subbaramaiah K, and Dannenberg AJ (2010), Effects of Cigarette Smoke on the Human Oral Mucosal Transcriptome, Cancer Prevention Research, 3(3): 266-278.

3. Zhou XK, Liu F, and Dannenberg AJ, "A Bayesian Model Averaging Approach for Observational Gene Expression Studies", Annals of Applied Statistics, in press.

4. Subbaramaiah K, Howe LR, Bhardwaj P, Du B, Gravaghi C, Yantiss RK, Zhou XK, Blaho VA, Hla T, Yang P, Kopelovich L, Hudis CA and Dannenberg AJ (2011), Obesity is associated with inflammation and elevated aromatase expression in the mouse mammary gland: Evidence for an NF-κB-dependent mechanism, Cancer Prevention Research, 4(3):329-46.

5. Morris PG, Hudis CA, Giri D, Morrow M, Falcone D, Zhou XK, Du B, Brogi E, Crawford CB, Kopelovich L, Subbaramaiah K and Dannenberg AJ (2011), Inflammation and increased aromatase expression occur in the breast tissue of obese women with breast cancer, Cancer Prevention Research, 4(7):1021-9.

6. Fitzgerald DW, Bezak K, Ocheretina O, Riviere C, Wright TC, Milne GL, Zhou XK, Du B, Subbaramaiah K, Byrt E, Goodwin M, Rafii A, and Dannenberg AJ, The effect of HIV and HPV co-infection on cervical COX-2 expression and systemic prostaglandin E2 levels: exploring the potential role of prostaglandin E2 in AIDS related cervical cancer, Cancer Prevention Research, in press.

7. Subbaramaiah K, Morris PG, Zhou XK, Morrow M, Du B, Giri D, Kopelovich L, Hudis CA and Dannenberg AJ (2011), Increased levels of COX-2 and prostaglandin E2 contribute to elevated aromatase expression in inflamed breast tissue of obese women, under revision for Cancer Discovery.

Provided by MadhuMazumdar
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Topic revision: r1 - 03 Jan 2012 - 14:12:16 - MaryBanach

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