Advancing population health through biostatistics

The Department of Biostatistics at the University of Washington stands with the University in supporting the Population Health Initiative.  The department is deeply committed to the advancement of public health through collaborative, interdisciplinary research and the training of the next generation of data scientists.

What a Biostatistician Does

Biostatisticians use their quantitative skills to team with experts in other fields, from biologists and cancer specialists to surgeons and geneticists. Employing the tools of statistics, biostatisticians help answer pressing research questions in medicine, biology and public health, such as whether a new drug works, what causes cancer and other diseases, and how long a person with a certain illness is likely to survive.  Biostatisticians are pivotal in ensuring that scientific evidence is gathered and analyzed accurately and that new treatments are supported by sound quantitative methods.

UW Biostatistics Research

Investigators in UW Biostatistics research centers provide data and statistical support for research studies and clinical trials.  Our research groups have a strong collaborative partnership with the UW Department of Statistics and work closely with faculty in departments in the UW School of Public Health and the UW School of Medicine.

  • Genetic Analysis Center is the coordinating center for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) TOPMed Whole Genome Sequencing Project which is part of the broader Precision Medicine Initiative.
  • Center for Biomedical Statistics collaborates with other UW scientists and investigators on research to improve patient care and clinical practice in neonatology, radiology, surgery, and psychiatry.
  • Collaborative Health Studies Coordinating Center is the coordinating center for the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a medical research study involving more than 6,800 men and women from six race/ethnic groups in the United States.
  • UW Clinical Trials Center provides infrastructure and statistical leadership for the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium (ROC), which conducts clinical research in areas of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and traumatic injury.

Faculty Impact

Our faculty members, students, and research teams develop statistical methods and applications that support advances in population health in communities in Washington and around the world.  With over 50 faculty members in the department, we're involved in some of the most important contributions to public health research today. The following are just a few highlights.

Dr. Thomas Fleming

Antiretroviral therapy reduces risk of HIV heterosexual transmission by 96 percent

Professor and former department chair Thomas Fleming was senior author of a study that showed antiretroviral therapy reduced the risk of heterosexual transmission of HIV by 96 percent – a discovery that could save countless lives and illnesses. Science magazine dubbed it the 2011 “Breakthrough of the Year.”


Photo of Clara Oromendia
Clara Oromendia

Analyzing a vaccine to prevent dengue fever

Graduate student Clara Oromendia who grew up in Argentina has been working on a trial of a vaccine to prevent dengue fever.  Transmitted by mosquito bites, dengue is a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics. Under the supervision of Peter Gilbert, a UW Professor of Biostatistics based at the Fred Hutch research center, Oremendia seeks to determine whether the vaccine works differently in different parts of the world. 


Dr. Timothy Thornton

Dr. Bruce Weir


Transforming how scientists understand and treat human disease for specific populations through statistical genetics

Through the work of the Genetic Analysis Center, professors Timothy Thornton and Bruce Weir use statistical methods to unravel the unique genetic risk factors of minority populations.


October 25, 2016