Biostatistics involves the development and application of statistical techniques to scientific research in health-related fields, including medicine, epidemiology, and public health. From the beginning of this century, biostatistics has become an indispensable tool in improving health and reducing illness.
More widely, biostatistics (sometimes called biometrics or biometry) involves statistical work in areas of environmental study, agricultural research, and biology. For an overwhelmingly good view of what biostatistics is, you could consult the Encyclopedia of Biostatistics, a six-volume set published in 1998 and updated in 2005.
Biostatisticians play essential roles in designing studies and analyzing data from research problems. They help formulate the scientific questions to be answered, determine the appropriate sampling techniques, coordinate data collection procedures, and carry out statistical analyses to answer those scientific questions.
Research problems are as diverse as the study of factors affecting heart and lung disease, testing new drugs to combat AIDS, assessing indoor air quality in schools, working with various cancer studies, evaluating dental health and dental procedures, evaluating psychiatric symptoms and drug and alcohol use, transplanting organs and bone marrow, and studying inner ear infection. Currently statistical genetics and genomics are especially active areas of both methodological and applications research.
Biostatisticians also develop statistical techniques. Active areas of research include Bayesian methods, high-speed computing and simulation, survival analysis, analysis of geographical patterns of disease, longitudinal data analysis, and methods for analyzing data from epidemiologic studies and clinical trials. [The preceding is a variation on material provided about Biostatistics by the American Statistical Association ]
BMI faculty are especially engaged in Clinical Biostatistics, Statistical Genetics and Genomics, and Population Health Biostatistics. See Key Areas of Inquiry of BMI Faculty.