Theory and Practice Make Life Better and Better

Meet biostatistics PhD candidate Yi Gao.

Yi Gao.

Yi Gao joined the PhD program in biostatistics in 2016. During his time in the program, he has been a graduate teaching assistant and a graduate research assistant at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Why did you decide to get a degree in biostatistics?

I liked mathematics as a child. For my undergraduate study, I majored in information and computing science, which is tightly related to mathematics. I participated in five different mathematical modeling contests, and I obtained training in applying the mathematical theory and programming knowledge I learned in the classroom to analyze mathematical and statistical models. In this procedure, I realized that statistics is a more applied subject and can be applied to many fields such as public health, medicine, finance and business.

For my PhD study, I hoped to learn more advanced statistical theories and focus on something more specific to learn how to apply statistical knowledge to help solve issues in public health and medicine.

How is your research going?

My current research focuses on statistical methods in biomarker evaluation and diagnostic studies. This is also the main part of my PhD dissertation. We have explored different diagnostic measures in the framework of tree/umbrella ordering and investigated statistical inference methods for these measures for the purpose of biomarker evaluation and comparison. We also applied these proposed methods to lung cancer study. We are continuing to investigate more statistical topics in this area.

How would you characterize your time at SPHHP?

The biostatistics program not only provides the solid and advanced theoretical training, but also provides students tremendous practical training opportunities to apply the statistical knowledge learned in the classroom to various real-world projects. At SPHHP, we also can choose courses in other departments to broaden the scope of knowledge.

Why is biostatistics important?

Biostatistics links statistics with many fields such as medicine, biology and public health, allowing researchers to draw inferences in a scientific way from gathered information and to make data-driven decisions that help improve the efficiency and efficacy of health- and medicine-related programs and make our life better and better.

What is the most important part of your time at SPHHP?

The most important aspect of my time at SPHHP is that I did my PhD dissertation research under the guidance of [Department of Biostatistics] Prof. Lili Tian. Prof. Tian is the most responsible mentor I have ever met. I could not grow as fast without her precious instructions. Her passion for research always highly motivated me, and, gradually, I found that doing research is an enjoyable process. Besides providing me the best doctoral training, her enthusiasm and optimistic personality generates a lot of positive impacts on me that help me get over difficulties and frustrations in work and life.

Why should someone consider a degree in biostatistics?

Through learning biostatistics, we can obtain lots of knowledge about how to analyze real life data such as public health data and medical data in a scientific way. The biostatistics program not only can improve our statistical skills, but also can help us accumulate real-world experience in practice, which set students apart in their future career.

What interests you outside of your studies?

Outside of my studies, I like listening to music, and I am also a sports fan. I watch different sports games every week and follow sports news every day. I know lots of sports among which soccer is my favorite. Since I was a child, I have enjoyed playing soccer and watching live soccer streaming with family and friends. When I have time, I always go to the stadium to watch sports matches.

What are your plans once your studies are complete?

I hope to apply the solid theoretical knowledge and valuable research experiences I gained during my PhD study to my work and help solve public health and medicine issues in real life. I also hope to stay curious, keep exploring, and improve my work skills and research ability through constantly learning new knowledge and communicating and collaborating with colleagues.