Hamilton Health Sciences is home to one of the most influential medical research communities in Canada and the world. With studies spanning across disciplines and world borders, the HHS research community is also one of the world’s most prolific. At any given time there are hundreds of HHS trials at various stages of completion — the PHRI alone is currently conducting 96. The amount of data collected is staggering. A single population health study, like the recently published HOPE-3 trial, with 21 countries, 228 sites and more than 12,700 participants generated 2,000,000 data points.
On its own, collected data means very little to a researcher and even less to a patient. This is where statistics steps in. By transforming data into numbers, numbers into patterns and patterns into insight, statistics gives meaning to data.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the world-class research conducted at HHS is supported by a world-class Statistics Program.
The statisticians at the Population Health Research Institute do not just crunch numbers; they are an integral part of the study team. PHRI’s Statistics Program was established by Dr. Janice Pogue. Janice was with the PHRI for 22 years when she lost her battle with pancreatic cancer in January 2016. Janice was also a faculty member in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CE&B) at McMaster University, where she was highly respected and admired by colleagues and much loved by graduate students.
Janice’s contributions to research are many, including the introduction of industry-changing advancements in the conduct and interpretation of clinical trials for the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease. In addition to working jointly with investigators on the design and methodology of PHRI studies, Janice also conducted research of her own, “To study the study of methodology.” There is no better evidence of the importance of statistics to research projects than the recent list of the most cited researchers. Janice Pogue is one of seven HHS researchers among the world’s most cited. (The 2016 Highly Cited Researchers List, Clarivate Analytics.)
With such a long and impressive list of accomplishments, it’s interesting that Janice, with her soft-spoken ways, is perhaps best remembered for her commitment to making statistics accessible to all. “Janice worked diligently to make every interaction, whether it be through a journal article she authored, a teaching session or a meeting in her office, evidence that statistics is understandable and applicable,” says long-time friend and colleague, Dr. Jackie Bosch. “This commitment to making statistics understandable is part of the reason for her success. She was respected and much loved.”
In recognition of her contributions to the field, and to establish a lasting memorial in her name, friends and colleagues from the PHRI and CE&B established a lectureship in her name. The lectureship was created to continue the many important dialogues that Janice began and to honour her dedication to clinical research and her generosity to her colleagues.
“Janice was our founding Director of Statistics and set the tone for our approach to statistics,” says Dr. Salim Yusuf, the Executive Director at PHRI. “Her efforts will continue to contribute to our knowledge base for decades to come.”
The second lecture will feature Professor Amy H. Herring, Professor of Statistical Science, Duke University.. Entitled, “Challenges in Modeling Associations Among Environmental and Behavioral Exposures and Outcomes,” the lecture is scheduled for Monday March 5, at 4 pm at the David Braley Cardiac and Vascular Research Institute in the main floor auditorium. This is a free event; all are welcome. More information.