5 Questions with Garrett Fitzmaurice

Via Harvard Catalyst:  
Garrett FitzmauriceHarvard Catalyst Biostatistics Program leader Garrett Fitzmaurice discusses the essential role biostatistics plays in research and the increase in demand for consultations as new COVID-19 research advances.  Dr. Fitzmaurice is professor of psychiatry (biostatistics) at Harvard Medical School and director of the Laboratory for Psychiatric Biostatistics at McLean Hospital.

How essential is biostatistics to a modern-day clinical/translational study?

It’s absolutely essential. A biostatistical focus on design, analysis, interpretation, and reporting of results is a critically important component of clinical and translational research. There’s always been a great appreciation of the role that biostatisticians and applied statistics plays in clinical trials and public health research. But now our value is being recognized in broader areas of biomedical research. The expectations and the bar are continuing to rise for the use of increasingly sophisticated quantitative methods, certainly on the part of many journal editors and study section peer reviewers of grant applications.

Also, regarding the crisis in the lack of replicability of published research findings, statisticians have a vital role to play in improving the reproducibility of scientific research by highlighting and addressing many of the quantitative issues that contribute to the reproducibility of results.

What does the Harvard Catalyst Biostatistics program typically do and how has the pandemic changed things?

Drawing on a remarkably talented team of biostatisticians and epidemiologists from across the Harvard academic and hospital community, the program provides approximately 1,000 consultations per year to postdoctoral and faculty researchers who are undertaking clinical and translational research.  (Continued)

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