California Pacific Currents 2000
Dan Moore, PhD: Tailoring Patient Therapy with Sophisticated Data Analysis
comes research as a formal study in medicine came along about the same time that powerful computers became readily available to biomedical researchers. This was no mere coincidence, according to Dan Moore, PhD, a biostatistician at the research institute who designs biostatistical methods for outcomes research.
“Unlike in a clinical trial, outcomes research involves looking at a lot of data retrospectively and trying to account for a huge number of possibly confounding variables. You need computers that can handle very complex calculations to isolate the causal factors.”
One purpose of outcomes research is to guide decision-making in clinical settings. Liver transplantation is an important example. Moore is participating in an outcomes research project with Robert Gish, MD, of California Pacific's Liver Transplant Program to identify the factors that can predict successful outcomes in patients with a history of alcohol abuse. Data from 124 patients going back to 1989 will be used to analyze the factors that could influence this potentially life-and-death situation.
Moore credits much of the startling recent advances in medical research to the vastly increased computing power now available. “The work that is being done now in the sequencing of the genome is possible only because we have computers that can hold all that information.”
Moore foresees a revolution in biostatistical methods and results over the next 10 to 20 years enabled by the continued development of computing power.
“We will be able to put a lot more factors into our models, much finer categories of everything from demographic data to specific genetic information. We can eliminate a lot of the guesswork and assumptions in data analysis. We'll be able to pinpoint the causes of disease more rapidly, and tailor treatments to individual patients much more effectively.”