Profile of John Ioannidis

by on December 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm in Medicine, Science | Permalink

He is an important thinker and here is one part of the profile:

Ioannidis’s current work stems from his deep love of math and statistics. He was born in New York City to physician parents but raised in Athens, Greece, where he excelled at math from a young age. He attended the University of Athens Medical School, added a PhD in biopathology, and later trained at Harvard and Tufts and joined the National Institutes of Health, where he worked on pivotal HIV research. These days, although he often collaborates on the design of specific studies, what he mostly does is meta-research, or the study of studies. Using powerful number-crunching programs and constantly evolving algorithms, Ioannidis analyzes many trials, each with many patients. He’s working to see not so much whether one treatment works or does not work, or whether one association of a specific risk factor with one disease is true or false, but whether factors related to the research process—the number of patients tested, the criteria for including data, statistical errors in an analysis, even fraud or financial incentives—may have compromised the data and conclusions. He burst on the medical establishment radar in 2005 with a paper in PLoS Medicine asserting nothing less than: “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.”

Here is Alex’s earlier post on him.  For the pointer I thank Mark D.

Bill December 30, 2012 at 4:03 pm

I’m for this guy.

Maybe for IPAB, ironically, or will reference to Obamacare offend some here:

From the background document:

‘He works with colleagues around the globe to scrutinize treatments that account for huge chunks of the health- care tab but that are, he says, virtually worthless and sometimes harmful. Ioannidis says financial influence is one of several factors that can, deliberately or unintentionally, skew study design and methodology and undermine the validity of published research findings. His extensive publications pointing out these problems are reverberating throughout the scientific community—and threaten entire medical specialties that have organized themselves around big-ticket, but low-value, interventions.”

Andrew' December 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm

You mean the same treatments the government subsidizes into existence right now and has imaginary plans to stop at some distant never-to-arrive future?

No, Obamacare doesn’t offend me, it pisses me off.

Andrew' December 30, 2012 at 4:11 pm

“Oh but we’ll have really swell effectiveness studies!!!”

What say you on that Ioannidis?

Andrew' December 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm

“The other jaw-dropper was the 2007 COURAGE trial examining patients with stable coronary artery disease, or hardening of the arteries. It found that a widely performed procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention, usually involving the insertion of tiny metal scaffolds called stents to prop arteries open, did not reduce incidence of death or heart attacks in these patients.”

This basically means we know nothing. Nothing. So, baby out with the bath water.

derek December 30, 2012 at 11:02 pm

And somehow a guy in a room with a big computer is supposed to know more? Probably some things he finds have some validity, some things are just plain stupid.

Jack December 30, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Very interesting, but don’t forget Ed Leamer was warning economists (and researchers in general) about the perils of specification searches and other biases.

David B Bley December 31, 2012 at 12:14 am

As far as research goes – all you have to do is see who paid for it to see how unbiased it is. If some industry is paying academia to see how efficacious their product is, their findings are highly suspect.

As far as medicine goes, their goal has become to secure a consistent revenue stream from the marketing of symptomatic relief to the diseased. They have given up on the concept of improving health.

Rahul December 31, 2012 at 1:15 am

“all you have to do is see who paid for it to see how unbiased it is.”

Does this apply to Economics too?

Mrs. Davis December 31, 2012 at 4:52 am

When was medicine interested in health and not curing or alleviating symptoms of disease?

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