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How to learn more about biostatistics research

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I am interested in applying for PhD programs in biostatistics. However, my background in statistics is quite minimal, though I have a good background in pure maths. So, What is a good way to get a better understanding of the major research areas of biostatistics? I don't expect to become an expert or have any in depth understanding of course (that is what the PhD is for) but at least enough to be able to write about possible areas of interests, on PhD applications. Does any one have any advice?

Thank you, hope you are having a good day!

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Well, this is probably a situation in which the Summer Institute for Biostatistics/Summer Institute for Training in Biostatistics (the names are inconsistent), otherwise called SIBS, might be helpful going forward.  That's a program funded by the NHLBI that teaches people the basics of biostatistics, and gives you connections to faculty at a generally pretty good biostatistics program.  That said, if you are applying to PhD programs this upcoming school year, you clearly can't apply to SIBS since it started about 3 weeks ago, and ends about 2 weeks from now.  

A good place to start might just be to go to a biostatistics PhD program website -- sometimes they provide some basic explanation of the subject, but they also list faculty from that school that work on that topic, which lets you go look at those faculty members' publications and read more about it yourself.  Some examples of these lists of research topics are at Emory (https://sph.emory.edu/departments/bios/research/index.html) and UNC (https://sph.unc.edu/bios/bios-research/).

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One approach is to look at the biostat-themed presentations that are being given at major conferences. For example, you can search the JSM 2019 program here: https://ww2.amstat.org/meetings/jsm/2019/onlineprogram/index.cfm

I suggest narrowing the results by choosing 'Biometrics Section' as the sponsor and selecting only 'Invited' papers and panels, as shown below. This will give you a good sense of what the current major research topics are, as well as who the "big names" are working in each area.


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