K-RITH/Ragon/CFAR Sponsor Biostatistics Course

K-RITH/Ragon/CFAR Sponsor Biostatistics Course in South Africa

May 15

K-RITH/Ragon/CFAR Sponsor Biostatistics Course in South Africa

May 7-11, 2012 the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH), the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, and the Harvard University Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) co-sponsored a biostatistics course in Durban, South Africa for the benefit of African scientists.


Biostatistics is the application of statistics to a wide range of topics in biology including medicine. The collection, summarization, and analysis of data from biological experiments enable scientists to draw valid conclusions from ever-expanding data sets and accelerate research.


This first joint K-RITH/Ragon/CFAR biostatistics course gave participants an overview of the various statistical methods used in medical research.  Students will now be able to employ these techniques in their own research as well as better understand the results presented in medical research literature.


Instructor Lori Chibnik, PhD, MPH, a Harvard University biostatistician, used interactive lectures, active learning techniques and short group exercises to help the students understand basic statistical concepts and methods.


“It was such a pleasure to work with the students at UKZN,” observed Dr. Chibnik. “Everyone was so eager and excited to learn about biostatistics.”


Here students use colored candies to learn about the application of the Chi-Square test. They count the various colors and test if the color distribution in each bag is different from what is claimed by the M&Ms candy company.  It’s a fun and tasty way to learn statistics, especially since they get to eat their data!


The course was attended by 26 University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) students and faculty, including several from the Ragon-affiliated HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP). One student even traveled from distant Mali in order to attend the course.


K-RITH, Ragon and CFAR are dedicated to educating and empowering African scientists to be part of the solution to  the HIV/AIDS epidemic on their continent.