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Biostatistics, also called biometrics or biometry, is the application of mathematics and statistical methods to biological and medical data. This is a growing field, with employment opportunities world-wide. Biostatistician jobs are available with hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, public health organizations, health-related industries and university research groups.
Most governments have regulatory agencies which evaluate drug research and testing, and set standards for drug safety and efficacy. Biostatistician jobs with pharmaceutical companies require a familiarity with those regulations, and the ability to help design research programs with meet government mandates. The biostatistician is generally expected to help design relevant studies, oversee the selection of adequate samples, design questionnaires and statistical programs, and analyze the data. He may also be required to prepare study reports and information for submittal to regulatory agencies.
Biostatistician jobs with hospitals and university research groups often involve the study of particular diseases, or of the effectiveness of certain medications and treatment options on those diseases. These studies often track patients receiving treatments for a particular health issue, such as a specific form of cancer. The results are used to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment, any short-term or long-term side effects, incidence of recurrence, and any other related factors. The role of the biostatistician is critical in accomplishing a scientifically accurate analysis of the results.
Disease related medical research also examines possible contributory factors for diseases, such as the role of excess body fat in relation to breast cancer. Some studies evaluate how other issues, like nutrition and environmental factors, affect conditions such as diabetes and asthma. Other biostatistician jobs evaluate the effectiveness of dental procedures or the long-term efficacy of anti-rejection medications for transplant patients.
A person who is interested in studying the occurrence of diseases in particular population groups may want to consider biostatistician jobs in the field of epidemiology. This may include the study of diseases which tend to occur primarily in certain population groups or geographic regions. Another aspect may be the study of why race and gender increases the likelihood of certain conditions, like stroke or hypertension. Local, national and world health organizations offer opportunities in these specialties, as do some university funded research programs.
Other public health biostatistician jobs involve the monitoring of outbreaks of infectious diseases. If patterns of a disease change, or some areas seem to be more resistant to an outbreak, statistical data is used to try to determine the cause. Public health organizations also monitor the effects of changes in health-related activities, such as a decrease in smoking or increase of exercise. The health impact of environmental issues like indoor air quality is also being studied in order to develop beneficial work and public health policies.
Genetic research is another growing field which offers biostatistician jobs. A great deal of attention is being given to identifying genetic causes of disease and exploring potential ways to block negative genetic influence. Because genetics is so complex, it is critical that the statistical data be based on sound, statistically accurate data.
As medical research advances, the number and variety of biostatistician jobs continues to increase. Candidates must be analytical and detail-oriented. While a person may be able to obtain an entry level position with a bachelor’s degree, most jobs will require graduate degrees.
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