IDIBELL's Statistical Assessment Service has already served one year. We wanted to know better how this service works and the possibilities offered to our researchers, because research projects must be accompanied by good statistical tools to validate the results.
Massive data avalanche
Data, data and more data ... The study of gene expression arrays in cells of the microenvironment surrounding tumors realized by the group led by the researcher David Garcia Molleví has generated an array of 33 000 probes. "When analyzing this massive avalanche of data," the researcher explained, "we find that we lack mathematical and statistical knowledge to make an initial screening to see where the data point." That's why Daniel Cuadras is sitting next to him. He is the biostatistician who heads the Statistical Assessment Service since its inception in August 2010. "For me these data are only numbers and I compare and order them with the biological criteria required by the researcher" says Daniel Cuadras.
Support for basic research is only one of the statistical support services offered by this department. "We offer a la carte service. Obviously, most of the studies are in the field of health. Doctors at the Hospital de Bellvitge ask for comparative observational studies of patients, how they respond to a given treatment; basic researchers need to order biological data ...”
One year of service
IDIBELL’s Statistical Assessment for Researchers was born in 2010, when it was detected the need for statistical advice of researchers when they design an experiment (calculation of sample size, type of analysis needed, and so on ) or when they have to interpret data from a mathematical point of view. "The biological interpretation is experts’ job" adds Cuadras.
"It was decided to address this need in an orderly fashion with the launch of the service," explains the head of colorectal cancer group of the IDIBELL, ICO researcher and professor of statistics at the University of Barcelona, Victor Moreno, who runs the service. "Our reference model is the statistical service of the Autonomous University of Barcelona who was born ten years ago. Other centers such as VHIR or IMIM have also launched a service like this. "
In what concerns the functioning of Statistical Assessment for Researchers, it starts with a visit to the office that Daniel Cuadras shares with the support unit UCICEC-CAIBER clinical trial, which also provides statistical advice-oriented design and implementation of clinical trials. Once realized the consultation will decide whether the advice requires a complete project including data analysis and interpretation of results, the service present a budget based in hours of work. If the assessment involves only one or two hours of work to help researchers to take decisions, is offered for free.
Validation of scientific results
In any case, Moreno reminds researchers that most agencies accepts, in their grant applications for research projects, a budget of statistical analysis and encourages them to order it in further calls. Daniel Cuadras says that "statistic is a useful tool to validate results before publication. A well done statistical work gives them value".
More information at the website of the IDIBELL's Statistical Assessment Service