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Department of Biostatistics - Forging New Frontiers in Data Science and Public Health


From the Chair

Shuangge Steven Ma
Interim Chair, Department of Biostatistics Professor of Biostatistics
Many times, students have asked me, “Is it a good idea to study biostatistics?”

More than 20 years ago, when I switched majors in college and decided to pursue biostatistics, I had the same question. And I must confess, back then, I was not so sure. Looking back, choosing a career in biostatistics was the best decision I ever made. Now I confidently tell students, “Studying biostatistics is a great idea and now is the best time to do it.”

Biostatistics operates at the intersection of data science, public health, biomedicine, computer science, and several other disciplines. Over the past two decades, we have witnessed a revolution in data collection technology and an incredibly fast accumulation of data from clinical trials, epidemiological studies, high-throughput genetic experiments, pathological and radiological imaging studies, and other research. At the same time, new tools have emerged to help us understand and analyze these data — from powerful statistical modeling methods and machine learning to deep learning and supercomputing power. We are fully ready to tackle the critical challenges that lie before us. Biostatistics is now being used to model paths of infectious diseases, prioritize molecular targets for cancer, quantify the long-term risk of exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals, and make automated diagnoses based on pathological images.

The Yale School of Public Health’s biostatistics program has always strived to develop leading-edge statistical techniques and address the most pressing public health and biomedical challenges. Our research covers the entire spectrum of biostatistics, such as statistical genetics, big data, machine learning, deep learning, clinical trials, and causal inference. We have long and extensive collaborations with all departments at the Yale School of Public Health and Yale School of Medicine as well as with government agencies, such as the Connecticut Department of Public Health, and leading pharmaceutical companies.

It is worth mentioning that during the pandemic our faculty and students have had a deep and direct impact on policymaking in Connecticut and nationwide. Our work supported both COVID-19 biomarker discovery and drug discovery. In 2021 alone, the Department of Biostatistics was represented in more than 230 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Our faculty continue to serve as international leaders in the field, speaking at prominent conferences and being recognized for their pioneering work. At the same time, our students continue to distinguish themselves with awards for their outstanding research and scholarship.

While we will always seek to forge new frontiers in public health, we are most proud of our growing success in training the next generation of biomedical data science leaders. Our approximately 200 students work closely with the 85 members of our experienced and highly talented faculty and they are often co-supervised by world-renowned public health and biomedical researchers. With courses on statistical methodology, data science, and implementation science, they now get more comprehensive training than ever before.

In the Department of Biostatistics, we pride ourselves on our ability to maintain a competitive and dynamic environment for students, while ensuring each receives the personal attention they need. With rigorous and comprehensive training, and a strong history of publication, presentation, and intern experience, our graduates have become leaders in the pharmaceutical industry, research institutions, government agencies, and tech and financial companies.

The future is brighter than ever. It starts here, and it starts now. We welcome you to join us.

Interim Chair, Department of Biostatistics
Professor of Biostatistics

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Making an Impact

Faculty and students in the Yale School of Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics are being recognized around the world for their outstanding scholarship and research.

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