gms | German Medical Science

Kongress Medizin und Gesellschaft 2007

17. bis 21.09.2007, Augsburg

Lifecycle of a Biomarker - Practical Methods for the Molecular Epidemiologist

Meeting Abstract

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  • Mark Schiffman - DCEG, NCI, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA

Kongress Medizin und Gesellschaft 2007. Augsburg, 17.-21.09.2007. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2007. Doc07gmds351

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: September 6, 2007

© 2007 Schiffman.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



One of the most vibrant parts of epidemiology is molecular epidemiology, in which laboratory data replaces exposure information derived from questionnaires or medical abstracts. The speaker has worked in the field of molecular epidemiology for 30 years, and will discuss in a practical, step-by-step manner how to evaluate the utility of a biomarker proposed for clinical use or screening. The discussion will stress the logical series of epidemiologic evaluations that should be done, and in what order. For the most promising markers, there comes a time to switch study focus from risk estimates (OR, RR, Etiologic Fraction) to clinical epidemiologic measurements (sensitivity, specificity, predictive values). Useful target ranges for each test statistic will be discussed. In fact, most proposed biomarkers are not, in fact, suitable for general use and epidemiologists can serve as the skilled evaluators of the wealth of possible candidates that new technologies are constantly providing.


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