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For the automated recognition of people based on intrinsic physical or behavioural traits, see Biometrics.

Biostatistics or biometry is the application of statistics to a wide range of topics in biology. It has particular applications to medicine and to agriculture.

Note on terminology: Although the terms "biostatistics" and "biometry" are sometimes used interchangeably, "biometry" is more often used of biological or agricultural applications and "biostatistics" of medical applications. In older sources "biometrics" is used as a synonym for "biometry", but this term has now been largely usurped by the information technology industry.

Biostatistics and the history of biological thought

Biostatistical reasoning and modeling were critical in formation of the foundation theories of modern biology. In the early 1900s, after the rediscovery of Mendel's work, the conceptual gaps in understanding between genetics and evolutionary Darwinism led to vigorous debate between biometricians such as Walter Weldon and Karl Pearson and Mendelians such as Charles Davenport and William Bateson. By the 1930s statisticians and models built on statistical reasoning had helped to resolve these differences and to produce the Neo-Darwinian Modern evolutionary synthesis.

The leading figures in the establishment of this synthesis all relied on statistics and developed its use in biology.

These individuals and the work of other biostatisticians, mathematical biologists, and statistically inclined geneticists helped bring together evolutionary biology and genetics into a consistent, coherent whole that could begin to be quantitatively modeled.

In parallel to this overall development, the pioneering work of D'Arcy Thompson in On Growth and Form also helped to add quantitative discipline to biological study.

Education and Training Programs

Almost all educational programmes in biostatistics are at postgraduate level. They are most often found in schools of public health, affiliated with schools of medicine, forestry, or agriculture or as a focus of application in departments of statistics. In the United States, several universities have dedicated biostatistics departments; many other top-tier universities integrate Biostatistics faculty into Statistics (or other) departments.

Many universities that deal with ecological research have a biostatistics course that introduces concepts such as hypothesis testing for univariate and sometimes multivariate data sets with one, two, or more samples. Often this is combined or followed with some kind of experimental design course.

Applications of biostatistics

Statistical methods are beginning to be integrated into medical informatics, public health informatics, and bioinformatics.

Related Fields

Biostatistics draws quantitative methods from fields such as:

See also

External links


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