The Biomedical Research Pyramid: A Model for the Practice of Biostatistics

Jesse D. Troy, Megan L. Neely, Steven C. Grambow, Gregory P. Samsa


Biostatisticians apply statistical methods to solve problems in the biological sciences. Successful practioners of biostatistics have advanced technical knowledge, are skilled communicators, and can seamlesslessly integrate with interdisciplinary scientific teams. Despite the breadth of skills required for success in this field, most biostatistics education programs place heavier emphasis on development of technical skills than skills necessary for collaborative work, including critical thinking, writing, and public speaking. Our master’s degree program in biostatistics aims for stronger integration of education in collaborative work alongside development of technical knowledge in biostatistics. Toward that end, we propose a model that provides students with a mental map for practicing biostatistics, and that can serve as a tool for faculty to create hands-on learning experiences for biostatistics students. The model helps students organize their knowledge of biostatistics, unifying the technical and collaborative aspects of the discipline in a single framework that can be applied across the broad array of activities that biostatisticians engage in. In this article we describe the model in detail and provide an initial assessment of whether the model might meet its intended purpose by applying the model to a common task for practicing biostatisticians and biostatistics students: describing the results of a medical research study.

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Copyright (c) 2021 Jesse D. Troy, Megan L. Neely, Steven C. Grambow, Gregory P. Samsa

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Journal of Curriculum and Teaching ISSN 1927-2677 (Print) ISSN 1927-2685 (Online)  Email:

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