Using Abstract Math to Solve Real-World Crises

Roland Matsouakarecent article from NIH profiles alumnus Roland A. Matsouaka, a recipient of Master’s and doctoral degrees in Biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health, who studied with Professor Rebecca Betensky (currently Biostatistics Chair at New York University), Professor Tianxi Cai, and Professor Eric Tchetgen Tchetgen, (currently of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania). The article underlines the importance of collaborative and communication skills for translational science, no matter the area of application.

According to Dr. Matsouaka, you must learn to speak your colleagues’ specialized language. “Over time, you discover what is important to your collaborators and understand why they work a certain way.”  He continues, “Their perspective reminds me that my job is not just to write complicated equations — I also need to translate those equations into a common language that people can understand.”

After initially focusing on HIV/AIDS, Dr. Matsouaka’s interests have shifted to working with clinical researchers to better understand and treat cardiovascular diseases. He is currently Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics & Duke Clinical Research Institute, Duke University School of Medicine.  His recent work, supported by the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program of the NIH, has enabled him to study cardiovascular disease in a different way, developing a hierarchal approach to study multiple outcomes in cardiovascular disease to get a more accurate picture of treatment effectiveness at different stages of care.