The Cytel blog keeps you up to speed with the latest developments in biostatistics and clinical biometrics.
‘A blend of courage and foolhardiness’: Marvin Zelen's 8 Predictions for the Future of Biostatistical Sciences
Ten years ago, in May 2005, world-renowned biostatistician Marvin Zelen was asked to deliver a keynote address before the Eastern Mediterranean Region of the Biometric Society. His address, entitled ‘Biostatisticians, Biostatistical Science and the Future,’  offered a reflection on the direction which the field at large would have to take, given the anticipated leaps in software and the rise of big data.
This included eight predictions on how short and longer term advances in technology would shape the field.
As we prepare to celebrate the annual Marvin Zelen Leadership Award in Statistical Science, this year awarded to Professor Nan Laird (Harvard University)   we can take a moment to re-examine the predictions and insights of Cytel's beloved friend and Board Member.
Where will the field of biostatistical sciences be ten years from now? Thirty years from now? How about one hundred years from now? It is perhaps a guessing game full of imprecise probabilities and chances for Bayesian updating.
In the US, cancer is the most common cause of death after heart disease, accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths . Tackling the immense burden of this disease, researchers are currently investigating an estimated 900 novel cancer agents in over 6,000 clinical trials . Unfortunately, the clinical success rate remains low, and failed trials amount to billions of dollars invested, while providing little direct benefit to patients. Such failures also discourage patients from participating in the testing of novel treatments: Currently, less than 2% of cancer patients enroll in clinical trials .