Jones Seminar: Statistics in Medicine — Why the data tell us one thing one day and another thing the next

Jessica Lasky-Su, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Statistics), Harvard Medical School

Friday, January 15, 2016, 3:30–4:30pm

Spanos Auditorium, Cummings Hall

As we sit down to watch the evening news, the health-oriented headlines of scientific research often report one outcome one day and directly contradict it the next. This leaves us wondering, what is the truth and why do scientific findings change. In this talk, Dr. Lasky-Su will discuss why health-related research findings "flip flop." She will discuss while highlighting the fundamental principles of statistics and epidemiology that are necessary for quality scientific research. This discussion will review specific instances where these scientific principles were upheld, furthering our understanding of diseases pathogenesis, and when these principles were not. We will also discuss how popular culture responding to these findings. Topics include the changing perceptions of childhood vaccinations, hormone replacement therapy, and vitamin D supplementation. The talk will review  end with a discussion of the essential principles that are necessary for good scientific research.

About the Speaker

Dr. Lasky-Su is Assistant Professor of Medicine (Statistics) at Harvard Medical School and Associate Statistician in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, with over 15 years of experience in the analysis of complex datasets, in particular genetic, genomic, and metabolomic data. Dr. Lasky-Su has productive track record with over 100 total research articles, including numerous genomic nd vitamin D publications. Dr. Lasky-Su recently started a R01 grant proposal that is generating metabolomic data to identify a metabolic profile that predicts asthma exacerbations using two asthmatic cohorts (R01 HL123915). She will utilize that experience in this proposal that aims to identify vitamin D metabolites in early and late pregnancy that are associated with preeclampsia, while integrating these findings with existing genomic data to better understand the biological mechanisms that are at work. Dr. Lasky-Su has been a close collaborator with both Dr. Weiss and Dr. Litonjua, the principal investigators of VDAART, over the last 9 years and has hands-on experience working with the VDAART clinical trial. Specifically, she has been involved in the ongoing genomic analyses of preeclampsia cases and matched controls in the VDAART trial. She has also had a working collaboration with Dr. Clish over the last two years, as his laboratory is currently generating metabolomic data for several of her ongoing projects.

For more information, contact Jessica Widdicombe at