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At Ease with Numbers
Peter Zandi, Ph.D.
In Peter Zandi’s hands, results of scientific research can take on a new life. He has both the intellect and a real gift for recognizing how data sets from a number of studies can be pooled to draw new conclusions, saving time, money and, sometimes, years of effort.
Zandi also sees how a study's outcomes fit into the larger context of psychiatric disease. All that makes him in demand.
Masses of data are the rule in epidemiology—one of Zandi’s fields—and a part of the tools of modern genetics—another field.
The latter uses statistics to extract trends from hundreds of patient families, or to interpret millions of data points from DNA chips: all efforts that cause lights in the computer lab to dim.
Data managing, analysis and statistical genetics, then, are Zandi’s strengths. He’s joined national searches for bipolar, autism and panic disorder genes as well as studies on Alzheimer’s disease therapies.
But Zandi’s also aware of context. After the genome project sequenced human DNA, laboratories undertook the next generation of studies, to unravel the purpose of specific sequences and to catalogue their small variances from person to person
As scores of different databases began appearing worldwide, Zandi’s other skills come in. He’s expert at finding and analyzing those databases to apply what’s relevant to Hopkins studies. “By leveraging what’s learned in the genetics community,” he says, “you make more sense of your own data.”