An interview with BMC Public Health Section Editor, Dr Shankar Viswanathan

We are delighted to introduce Dr Shankar Viswanathan, Section Editor of the Biostatistics and Methods section of BMC Public Health, who explains the important role biostatistics play in public health and informs us of the types of submissions he encourages to his section.

Please tell us about yourself and your research interests

I am a trained biostatistician with experience over two-decades in both methodological and public health research. My research interest includes developing new statistical methods to analyze further questions arising from medicine or public health. Specifically, I focus on survival analysis, longitudinal data analysis and missing data, and some design issues for my methods. The applied (epidemiological or public health) research interest is quite varied. Currently, I am working on studies related to the field of chronic disease epidemiology, injury epidemiology, and global public health.

What led you to become a biostatistician? 

I always enjoyed mathematics and majored in statistics in my undergraduate program. While I was exploring to do a graduate study, I stumbled upon the Biostatistics program. The synergy of mathematics and its application in medicine and public health made it attractive and exciting. The thought of playing a small role in changing public health towards betterment led me to become a biostatistician.

Are you working on a particular study or project at the moment?

I am currently involved in multiple clinical and public health studies. Still, one that is close to my heart is examining the role of inflicted traumatic brain injuries in children and its implication towards their neurodevelopmental disorders.

How do biostatistics contribute to our understanding of public health issues?

Biostatistics is a decision science, besides being a study of variation. Biostatistics has long played a significant role in public health in terms of identifying health issues among the population through efficient study design and optimal study size, assessing their extent and the association with exposures, prioritizing intervention or prevention strategies. Biostatistics has also played a vital role in policy advocacy, its implementation, and quality assurance processes in addition to evaluating all the above tasks. Biostatistics contribute to these processes by applying existing statistical procedures or by developing new methods to address research questions and test unique hypotheses. Biostatistics is an evolving discipline which with the current explosion of big data, would not only provide more insights but also contribute towards finding solutions for public health issues.

What types of submissions would you like to see to the Biostatistics and methods section of BMC Public Health?

BMC Public Health aims to present the epidemiology of disease and the understanding of all aspects of public health. I would like to see submissions in this section that align and enhance the scope.

The types of submissions that I would like to see to the section are those that address and provide solutions to methodological challenges that evolve out of public or population health. Some examples include but are not limited to manuscripts that demonstrate the application of existing methods in an innovative way for a public health problem with new insights. Other examples are papers that compare and contrast different designs or statistical procedures that provide strategies and suggestions under the various assumptions that are relevant in the public health realm. I would also like to see submissions that propose new methods or designs illustrated with real-life data related to public health.

About Dr Shankar Viswanathan

Dr. Shankar Viswanathan is an Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health. He received his doctoral degree in Biostatistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His methods research focuses on multivariate survival analysis, longitudinal data, and missing data analysis. His applied area focuses on Global Health, Injury Epidemiology, and Chronic Disease Epidemiology. He joined the Editorial Board of BMC Public Health in 2018 as an Associate Editor and became Section Editor of the ‘Biostatistics and Methods’ section of the journal this year.


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