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Master Program in Biostatistics

Student profiles

Results from our student opinion survey in November 2016, see who our students are and what they have to say about the program: pdf

Laura Barras, Master of Science in Medical Biology (University of Lausanne), Master student in Biostatistics

I was first introduced to statistics during my studies in biology. I remember being fascinated by this ability to extract information from the data and conclude whether the experiment was a success or not. Later, I had the chance to carry out a randomised clinical trial aiming to find new biomarkers of autologous blood transfusion. I came to realize that the most crucial part of the whole study was the analysis of the results and I enjoyed this part most of all. It was also clear to me that my knowledge of statistics was not sufficient to analyse complex data. This led me to pursue my studies with the Master Program in Biostatistics at the University of Zürich.

This program exceeds all my expectations. I particularly appreciate the fine balance between theory and practice. Understanding the models and correctly interpreting the outcomes is a critical aspect of any statistical analysis and is properly emphasised. Moreover, the program is flexible enough to cover all the basics and let us follow our various interests. I feel that the knowledge and skills gained during this master will be directly applicable to any future position may it be in academia or in the private sector.

Tea Isler, BSc in Mathematics (University of Trieste), Master student in Biostatistics

After completing my bachelor’s degree in Mathematics I decided to shift towards a more practical field of study. Initially I opted for a master in statistics and actuarial sciences but later on I realized that was not the right choice for me. I was looking for something with a higher purpose and this Master Program in Biostatistics turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. Here I found an incredible team of expert professors that followed us throughout the whole year. This master program offers a perfect balance of theory and practice giving you an insight of all the different career options available in the end. During my year of courses I realized how important statistics is in real world problems and the variety of techniques available to solve them.

Michael Hediger, BSc in Biology (UZH), Master student in Biostatistics

As a biology student I soon realized that natural science is all about testing hypotheses. One major part of doing science includes experimental design, data preparation, data analysis and data interpretation. In other words, whatever phenomenon one is interested in, developing sensitivity for the statistical aspects of the given research problem is crucial.

The Master’s program in biostatistics offers a perfect opportunity to acquire high valued statistical skills, useful for different quantitative research areas. The program provides a proper mixture of theory and application and offers a great starting aid to approach more complex topics in quantitative science.

Initially I was skeptical about doing a Master in statistics – now I think it was one of my wisest decisions.

Muriel Buri, MSc in Biostatistics, PhD student in Epidemiology and Biostatistics

In order to find a relevant and exciting application for my longstanding interest in numbers and data analysis (bachelor in financial mathematics), I applied to the biostatistics master at the UZH. The fact that all the results of my statistical analyses have a biological or medical interpretation and consequently an impact on living beings keeps me motivated as well as fascinated. The well-balanced mix between theory and application is one of the things I liked very much about the master programme in biostatistics. The more theoretical courses of the programme, e.g. "Likelihood Inference" and "Generalized Regression", gave me a valuable and solid knowledge which I was able to employ in more applied courses, e.g. "Statistical Consulting". Since biostatisticians often work cooperatively as members of an interdisciplinary team, I am looking forward to valuable and inspiring collaborations with people from various research fields in my future career.

Isaac Gravestock, MSc in Biostatistics, PhD student in Epidemiology and Biostatistics

I chose the Biostatistics Master and UZH because my interest in statistics is in the applications that make a difference for people. Through the program I have gained experience and the confidence to do statistical analyses on the wide range of problems that occur in medical and health sciences. The courses have had a good mix of statistical theory, applied problems, computer programming and the ethical and other real life challenges that come from doing research on people. Although I had a background in mathematics and statistics, I found the lectures to be challenging and interesting and I have learnt a lot.

Ruizhu (Fiona) Huang, MSc in Biostatistics, PhD student in Epidemiology and Biostatistics

I have always been fascinated by medical research and I like numbers. The applications of statistics to medicine and the health sciences show me the potential to combine these two interests. My goal is to work in a pharmaceutical company and analyze medical data or data related to public health. My motivation for attending this master program of Biostatistics is to acquire profound knowledge of statistics. I have been in the program for one year now and I get more and more convinced that it is a good choice for me. It provides very practical and interesting statistical knowledge; meanwhile, the curriculum structure is arranged in a systematic way so that I can follow it easily with my bachelor in Chemistry. I will start my master thesis in the coming semester, it is about using linear mixed model to analyze HIV data. This topic is exactly what I would like to do in the future. There is still a long way to go for my goal but I know I am on the right path now!

Seraina Graber, MSc in Biostatistics, PhD student in Evolutionary Biology

During my studies in biology, I got more and more interested in statistics as I learned how biological phenomena can be expressed using numbers and models.  Additionally, the more I learned about biology and its hypotheses and considerations, the more I became aware of the immense role of statistical analyses in biological research. To do proper science good statistical knowledge is crucial.

Furthermore, to find and apply new ways for analysing data, it is definitely useful and essential for a biologist to have a very broad knowledge about different quantitative and statistical methods, which are not limited to a specific research field. More importantly, the correct interpretation of model outputs is crucial in research. For my future, as I plan to work in scientific research, I want to further improve and deepen this knowledge, for which the Master program in biostatistics is perfect.

Sarah Thommen, MSc in Biostatistics, Biostatistician at the Basel Institute for Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics

My interests were always kind of split. I liked biology a lot, but was always fascinated by the exactness and accuracy of mathematics. The possibility to combine these two interests of mine was my motivation to enroll in the biostatistics master program at the University of Zürich. This master gave me the opportunity to apply my background in biology (MSc in molecular biology) with the basic knowledge I had in mathematics (gained within two semesters) and get an insight into the accurate and profound analysis of data and the correct and reasonable interpretation of it. I am still on my way to become a statistician and eager to learn much more about statistics and the way they are applied in biology and medicine. My goal is to become a well performing statistician, able to understand the way statistics are done, to adapt statistical techniques to different situations, to perform profound and good statistics and in the end to do statistical consulting. Since I started, I got more and more convinced that to attend this master program was exactly the right decision and will contribute a lot to reach my goal.

Sih-Jing Liao, MSc in Biostatistics, PhD student at the Institute of Fundamental Sciences of Massey University, NZ

Among the master programs in biostatistics I have browsed, I found that UZH provides comprehensive modules and application-oriented lectures, which corresponded to what I expected to strengthen. For instance, I was introduced to different facets of biostatistics during the courses, and I have acquired solid background in basic theories as well as enhanced my software skills to analyze the data-sets from assigned exercises. Furthermore, the Journal Club and Statistical Consulting in the program were beneficial to me, since they showed me what exactly the statistical analyses do in practice.
My current master thesis is about Bayesian statistics which I felt interesting and fascinating. I knew for sure that UZH is pushing me to the right direction toward my future goal though I still have a long way to go. With such specialized training, I believed I can develop my competence in absorbing and utilizing up-to-date knowledge and also gain skills required for adapting to the rapidly evolving statistical field in medical research.

Rafael Sauter, MSc in Statistics with major in biostatistics, Phd in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Biostatistician at Kantonsspital St. Gallen

My motivation for enrolling in the master program in statistics was to acquire profound knowledge and a solid basis in statistics. I was always intrigued by the broad application of statistical analysis in various fields of science and its crucial role as link between the theoretical and the empirical world. Everybody who is working with data relies on statistical tools such that a deep understanding of the subject must be most desirable.
I had the opportunity to write my master thesis in an applied area of medical research were I analyzed a novel dataset with different statistical models. The medical interest of the co-researcher on the one hand and the world of statistical model building on the other hand guaranteed that this project was a most rewarding experience for me. After having finished the master program the broad variety of different job opportunities is a confirmation that my choice was a good one.  [Rafael is a Fall 2011 graduate of the predecessor of the current program]