Ruzong Fan, PhD: More than just mathematics.
Professor, Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Biomathematics
“One of the fascinating things about biostatistics is how it is connected to diseases, to treatment, and to human health in general. Those real-world connections and applications are what make the numbers and the data make sense.”
At Georgetown University since 2016
Succeeding in biostatistics.
As the name would suggest, our programs in the Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Biomathematics require students to have a solid background in mathematics. Students coming in should also be proficient in English, but if English is not their first language, that is okay too. What is really important is having a strong mathematical background. Without that, students may struggle and it may be tough for the instructors to help them. That being said, we have very good faculty here and we work extremely hard to support students in our programs. While the mathematical background is necessary, everyone should keep in mind that biostatistics is so much more than math.
Addressing real-world problems.
When we are teaching our graduate students, we make a point to teach them more than the mathematical or statistical theory in their textbooks. One of the fascinating things about biostatistics is how it is connected to diseases, to treatment, and to human health in general. Those real-world connections and applications are what make the numbers and the data make sense. That background gives the teaching and the research purpose. Georgetown does an especially great job of applying biostatistics to actual problems in biomedical research across all of our departments.
The Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Biomathematics at Georgetown is a medium-sized department. It is not large in comparison to some other schools, and we are very concentrated on the medical research aspect of the field. We have faculty working in almost all areas of biomedical research. If it was much bigger, we would struggle with getting enough resources to support both the faculty and students adequately. On the other hand, if we were too small, then it would be hard to cover all the research topics we are able to study at our current size. Where we are now is the perfect size, and I would argue that some of the research coming out of our department is among the best in the country.