Saturday, April 19, 2008

Why Biostatisticians should get paid better

I am always amazed by the mathematical nature of genetics. Everyone can understand the A,T,G,C bases. The whole theory of DNA replication is easy. But let me tell you what is not. Biostatistics. Anyone who has a taken a course or two can surely back me up.

In the American Journal of Human Genetics there is a novel model for calculating Odds Ratios in Genome Scans. Why am I pointing it out here? Simple...there are several ways we analyze genetic data. This is a new way. Several papers as well as several corporate genomics have their individual way of calculating multiple SNP risk.....personally I feel that all of these should be published for peer review.

That still doesn't address my title. Why should the biostatistician get paid more? The mathematic link to genetics is huge. I am surprised there are not a significant amount of training programs emphasizing these statistical tools for physicians...But there are very few. Even the same for biostatisticians.....They are the workhorse of Evidence Based Medicine and Genomics. Why so little training in med school?

I guess we can just chalk it up to another field missed by curent graduate medical education. But don't worry, many advanced biology degrees miss it too.

In genetics there has been a shift away from the classical biostatistics to more probability based statistics. Such movements include the Bayesian changes that really started to move forward in the late 1990s. This has revolutionized our analyses.

No other field has relied so heavily on the backs of statisticians. But, Why I am commenting on how complicated genetic analysis is? Because now that we have alot of DTC testing going on, we may begin to devalue how important genetic discovery, scientist geneticists and clinical geneticists are. But even more so, we will begin to forget how very valuable the biostatistician is.

What is a biostatistician? You can find them at the Analytic Bridge....a network of "Analytic Professionals" Yes, even like us dorky gene heads, they have their own network!

So why am I posting about this on a Personalized Medicine blog? I just told you! If we did not have bioinformatics or biostatisticians, we would still be stuck with the punnett square! So today I say, "Thank You Markov Chain Guy!!!"


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