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What is biometrics and what does it mean for clinical research?

Posting date: 28/03/2023
Author: Inside ICON

You won’t be surprised to discover that biometrics has something to do with numbers. However, the term biometrics is typically used to describe a range of roles within clinical research. Each of these roles supports trials in different ways, ranging from optimising study design and developing procedures and protocols to analysing study data outcomes and interpreting results. This means that biometrics requires input from individuals with a range of backgrounds and expertise, depending on how and where it is deployed throughout the clinical research process.

In clinical trials, biometrics is primarily applied in three key areas. This includes biostatistics, SAS programming and data management. Each area uses biometrics in different ways, supporting trial quality and helping turn trial results into understandable, actionable outcomes.

Biostatistics 

In simple terms, biostatistics can be defined as:

“the branch of statistics that deals with data relating to living organisms.”

To be more comprehensive, you could describe biostatistics as the application of statistical analysis to turn data about living organisms into actionable knowledge and insight. In clinical research, this sees biostatisticians applying their knowledge and tools in order to help better plan clinical trials, providing insight into key study areas such as sample size and data collection methods. At the pre-trial stage, a Biostatistician's role is to ensure that the study will produce reliable and insightful results.

Even after the study has concluded, biostatistics can also play a key role. At this stage, biostatistical tools can be applied to ensure that the study has been statistically proven, achieved its desired outcome and to assess drug safety.

Statistical Programming

Statistical Analysis System (SAS) programmers play a crucial role in clinical research that leverages the benefits of biometrics. Professionals in this space typically write programmes that allow clinical research teams to import, analyse and report on data from multiple sources.

For example, a SAS programmer will support research by creating programmes that can be used to input trial data into statistical tables, graphs and listings. This requires them to be closely aligned with both Biostatisticians and Clinical Data Managers.

Clinical Data Management

The role of the Data Manager has developed considerably in recent years. Previously, this role focused primarily on data input tasks and checking data accuracy. However, as the role of data has evolved and the understanding of the importance of data reliability has increased, Data Managers have taken on a more pivotal role in clinical research.

The primary responsibility of the Data Manager is to ensure that all data collected throughout a clinical trial is complete, accurate and reliable. The level of quality assurance that a Data Manager provides ultimately determines the value of the study outcomes.

Project management is also a key responsibility of most Data Managers. Professionals who progress in this career will often maintain responsibility for managing projects and teams across multiple sites in different countries and time zones. So, not only do Data Managers need to be proficient with data, but they also need to develop the communication and planning skills required to take on these crucial management requirements.

Are you ready to start or progress your career in clinical research?

Biometrics play a key part in some of the most important roles in clinical research. Whether you have a love for data and want to pursue a career as a Biostatistician or see yourself using biometrics in a project management-focused position, a career in clinical research can be incredibly rewarding.

No matter if you are just starting out or looking to progress your career, we are experts in helping you progress your clinical research journey. We have broad mix of clinical research roles available at ICON. This includes exciting opportunities for clinical research associates, project managers and wider-ranging clinical trial vacancies.

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