About the MRC Biostatistics Unit

Director: Professor Sylvia Richardson

The Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit (BSU) is part of the University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine.

The Medical Research Council has had a statistical unit since its inception in 1913. One hundred years on, BSU is one of the largest groups of biostatisticians in Europe. It is a major centre for research, training and knowledge transfer, with a mission 'to advance biomedical science and human health through the development, application and dissemination of statistical methods'.

BSU’s critical mass of methodological, applied and computational expertise provides a unique and stimulating environment of cutting edge biostatistics, striking a balance between statistical innovation, dissemination of methodology and engagement with biomedical and public health priorities. View Research and Development at BSU page.

Pioneering work on fundamental aspects of medical statistics, clinical trials and public health has been developed throughout the BSU’s rich history. Our recent research has delivered innovative methodology in important biostatistics research areas, such as statistical genomics, longitudinal analysis, complex evidence synthesis, and clinical trial design. Alongside this methodological focus, the Unit is involved in major collaborations on dementia and aging, rheumatology, auto-immune diseases, blood disorders, oncology, HIV, HCV and influenza. The BSU places a strong emphasis on anticipating needs for statistical expertise in the health domain and on tackling contemporary challenges arising in clinical sciences and public health posed by new types of data and new scientific questions. View BSU Centenary Timeline.

“Statistics is applicable in all aspects of medicine, epidemiology and public health,” says Sylvia Richardson, Director of the MRC BSU in Cambridge, since 2012. “Statistics is fundamental for designing clinical trials, modelling disease programmes, asserting the influence of the genetic make-up of our health, as well as evaluating the effectiveness of public health policies.”

Now Biostatistics is facing new exciting challenges thrown up by fast emerging biotechnological advances as well as new study designs. Epidemiological and biomedical sciences are increasingly taking advantage of new high-throughput technologies, like genetic sequencing, as well as electronic online systems to assemble large and feature-rich datasets requiring in-depth analysis. Our focus is to deliver new analytical and computational strategies for the challenging tasks facing biomedicine and public health. View Research and Development at BSU page.

Additionally, and in line with the MRC mission, the BSU has placed strong emphasis on the training of a new generation of biostatisticians, and on producing skilled researchers in this high demand area. Our PhD programme provides opportunities for students from the mathematical sciences or related subjects to enter the world of biostatistics and benefit from rigorous training while engaging with exciting applications. View Training at BSU page.

As biostatisticians, we interact closely with biomedical researchers, epidemiologists and public health professionals. Our successful history of anticipating emerging needs for statistical expertise in the health domain and the stimulating scientific environment of the BSU will ensure that we continue to make a significant impact on future statistical practice in biomedicine. View BSU Key Collaborations page.

To learn more about the MRC Biostatistics Unit’s research successes over the past 100 years, as well as some of the current works that have positioned the Unit as one of the world's leading centres in biostatistics research, view the History of MRC Biostatistics Unit page.

About our location

The MRC Biostatistics Unit is based on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, in the Cambridge Institute of Public Health, a building shared with other public health groups. Our site is adjacent to Addenbrooke's Hospital, one of the country's largest teaching hospitals, and home to the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine.