CB 399: Fundamentals of Data Analysis for Experimental Biologists Spring 2014

Fundamentals of Data Analysis for Experimental Biologists

Nanocourse Director: David Van Vactor
Curriculum Fellow: Abha Ahuja, Abha_Ahuja@hms.harvard.edu

Registration information: Registration is required, even if you are auditing. Attendance at both sessions and the pre-course meeting is required. Enrollment for this course is limited, enrolled students will be notified via email. Priority will be given to students on the waitlist from earlier course offerings. Priority may also be given to students also enrolled in the Technologies for data analysis nanocourse. To register sign-up below.

Biological research is becoming increasingly quantitative. Several user-friendly statistical programs have made it easy to apply advanced analytic methods. However some basic background is needed in order to fully harness the power of these packages. This nanocourse is designed to teach basic statistical concepts and theory in the context of real biological data and results analysis. This course will help students to:

  • Analyze their data
  • Interpret and understand the output from any statistical package or primary literature
  • Communicate their results accurately and effectively
  • Prepare for more advanced courses in statistics

Lectures will be interspersed with in-class exercises. The lecturer will teach each topic using real biological data. Students will explore each topic by conducting simple calculations using a calculator. At the end of each topic students will discuss a thought question or solve a problem in pairs or small groups.

Topics Covered:

1)            Describing your data and summary statistics

2)            Parametric vs. Non-Parametric Methods

3)            Making inferences using confidence intervals

4)            Making inference using statistical tests:

  • t-test
  • Wilcoxon rank sum
  • Correlation and Regression

5)            Use and abuse of p values


All students are required to attend the pre course meeting. Students will be given readings to complete before Day 1. In addition, students will complete a take-home assignment at the end of day 1. They can do these assignments using a calculator, excel or their favorite statistical software.


Mandatory pre-course meeting (joint with Technologies pre course meeting)
Wednesday April 30th, 5:15-6:00pm
TMEC 109

First Session: Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 1 – 4 PM
Location: TMEC Building, Room 109
Second Session: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 1 – 4 PM
Location: TMEC Building, Room 109


 DROP DEADLINE: Tuesday, April 29, 2014