Biostatistics: Two MOOCs focused on the analysis of health data

Two biostatistics MOOCs engineered by the Centre Virchow-Villermé for Public Health Paris-Belrin with Stanley Lemeshow (Ohio State University), guest professor of the Sanofi Chair from January to June 2014, will start soon on Coursera. “Applied Regression Analysis”, his first course, will start on March 23 and “Applied Logistic Regression”, his second course, will follow, on May 11.

These courses are of major relevance for health professionals. Every day the health sector generates large amounts of data (on patients,diseases, symptoms, treatments, etc), and these data may hold the key to improvements in the health field by shedding light on relationships that could affect the decision making process. These MOOCs, through the detailed emphasis on statistical modeling, may assist researchers and health practitioners to better understanding medical, public health and epidemiologic data.

These MOOCs rely on the long experience and expertise of Stanley Lemeshow, with the support of the pedagogical team of the Centre and the Université Paris Descartes and course assistants at The Ohio State University. A worldwide acknowledged Professor in epidemiology and biostatistics, Stanley Lemeshow is the author of several, highly referenced textbooks published by John Wiley & Sons, such as the fourth edition of “Applied Logistic Regression”. Since 1999 when he joined the Ohio State University (OSU), he has served as Director of the University’s Center for Biostatistics, as Director of the biostatistics core of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, and as Founding Dean of the College of Public Health. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Statistical Association.

The MOOC Applied Regression Analysis will be opened on March 23. Six weeks long, the course will aim at training students on this fundamental method of biostatistics, focusing on a practical approach. Alongside practical exercises, theoretical background will be delivered in the MOOC. At the end of the 6 weeks training, students will be able to use software* allowing them to analyze real, health sciences, data.

“Applied Logistic Analysis” will start on May 11. This course will broaden the use of regression models to situations where the dependent variable is binary. As was true in the first course (where the dependent variable was continuous), emphasis will be on both the theoretical foundation and practical applications using real data. Students taking the second course should have a good background in linear regression (such as may be obtained from the first course).

These MOOCs, broadcasted in English, require some basic understanding of statistics. While not absolutely required, prior knowledge of software such as Stata, SPSS, SAS or R could ease one’s comprehension of the course. Practical exercises will be available with solutions. Rather than focusing on achieving a final grade, these courses are centred on building a grounded comprehension of the analysis method and on the interactions between participants as they work on the exercises.

*Access to Stata will be provided for the duration of the course, but other software (R, SPSS, SAS, etc) could be used depending on student preference and access.

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