|Biostatistics Core brings advanced analysis to SRP projects|
Environmental research involves uncertainty: a margin of error that must be applied to the data to accurately assess environmental and human health risks. Biostatisticians have the expertise to identify and interpret patterns in the data in order to minimize that uncertainty. That's why, at the UNC Superfund Research Program, every interdisciplinary research team includes a member of the SRP's Biostatistics Core.
"Our job is to use statistics to separate the 'signal' from the 'noise,'" explains Core Director Fred Wright. "We work with the investigators on each SRP project, right from the outset, to plan and execute the projects. Once we understand their specific goals and statistical needs, we apply a suite of state-of-the-science biostatistics and bioinformatics models to interpret and analyze the data. And since almost every project requires something unique that doesn't exist in any standard statistical package, we also develop new methods and tools to address project objectives."
One SRP project the Biostatistics Core is working on is Dr. Rebecca Fry's study of the effects of cadmium exposure on mothers and their infant children. Wright and his team are helping Fry develop a system to rigorously test each gene's DNA to determine whether it is significantly changed by exposure to the toxic metal, to identify genetic patterns, and to group sets of genes together that seem to belong to a common genetic pathway.
Wright, two other biostatistician faculty members, and a postdoctoral analyst comprise the core's staff. In addition to facilitating the SRP's interdisciplinary research, the Biostatistics Core also provides one-on-one training for UNC investigators, postdoctoral fellows, and students in the application of new statistical methods and computational tools to their research.
|Last updated January 29, 2013|