New FHS researchers: Meet Dr. Zihang Lu
Dr. Lu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences
Can you give me a quick summary of your research?
I am a biostatistician, and my research interests are two-fold. On one hand, I apply statistical methods to epidemiological, clinical, and public health research to help advance our knowledge about human health. On the other hand, I’m also interested in methodological development, more specifically, developing new methodologies to help us to better handle the complex data that can often be derived from medical research.
What problem do you want to solve through your research?
Most recently, I've been very interested in developing and applying new statistical methods to help us better understand disease heterogeneity. What I’m trying to do is use a data-driven approach to identify patient subgroups that we’ll be able to use to help provide more effective treatment strategies. These subgroups will improve the identification of patients’ needs and help facilitate more personalized treatment.
What do you hope to learn from your research?
From my methodological aspect, what I’m hoping to learn is how to develop a more flexible statistical approach to help people better understand medical data. More specifically, I’m looking at large sets of data that are collected from multiple sources and I’m hoping to develop a more flexible and user-friendly statistical approach to analyzing it. Ultimately, the easier it is to understand the information contained in complex medical data, the easier it will be to understand disease development.
The other aspect is related to one of my main research areas from an applied perspective, asthma. Right now, I am collaborating with physicians and scientists to help them better understand the development of asthma and what kind of risk factors could lead to early childhood asthma. What I hope to learn through this research is what, in early life, causes asthma and how we can prevent this kind of disease from progressing into a much more severe stage.
What kind of impact do you hope your research will have?
Throughout my educational background as well as my work experience, I have developed a really strong interest in several areas of research. I hope, and I really do believe, that I can use my expertise to make a contribution that will improve patients’ lives. I'm also hoping to make a positive impact on improving patient care, advancing public health, and transforming the lives of those who are affected by diseases. Ultimately, all of this effort that I put into my research is in an attempt to make a positive impact, not only for the biostatistical community but also the wider scholarly community.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a child, I did have a dream of becoming a soccer player, but to be fair I didn’t know that research or anything like that was an option back then. Growing up I was super energetic, and I liked all kinds of sports including soccer, badminton, and ping pong. Soccer was my favourite, so I dreamt of playing for my country or internationally and travelling the world as an athlete.