Developing treatments by the numbers

Real Life Science: Statisticians & Mathematicians

This image depicts Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Clinic Chief Nurse, Lee Ann Jean-Louis, extracting a dose of influenza Virus Vaccine, Fluzone©, approved by the FDA in 1980 for use in the U.S.

Developing treatments for viruses involves many experts, but where do statisticians and mathematicians fit into the equation?

Mathematicians develop and apply mathematical models of the relevant biochemistry while statisticians design and analyze clinical trial data. During an outbreak, they aid in developing tests to identify the virus and analyze the effectiveness of new drugs.

Both statisticians and mathematicians work in the growing field of Pharmacokinetics (PK) and Pharmacodynamics (PD). While PK is how a body processes a drug, PD takes into account the complex interactions between the drug, the human body, and the pathogen that might cause an infection in the patient. Practitioners in this field are experts in applying mathematical and statistical computer models to understand how drugs interact with the human body.

“Mathematicians and statisticians are needed to create mathematical models and analyze the flood of data in order to discover patterns and make predictions.” said RIT professor Bernard Brooks.

They may work on teams with engineers, scientists, and other professionals to contribute to the search and study of potential treatments.

RIT’s School of Mathematical Sciences trains students in everything from conditional probability and false positive/false negative analysis to hypothesis testing, regression, and experimental design.

As an statistician or mathematician, you might find yourself working in laboratories, pharmaceutical companies or government organizations such as:

  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Sanofi
  • Eli Lilly
  • Gilead
  • AstraZeneca

RIT graduates have worked at the following organizations:

  • Amgen
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics
  • Cognigen
  • Simulations Plus

RIT is preparing the next generation of statisticians and mathematicians at The School of Mathematical Sciences.