CHRI Spotlight: Junghyae Lee, PhD, MPH, Biostatistician II

Junghyae Lee, PhD, MPH, has been a member of the CHRI team since May 1, 2020, in the role of Biostatistician II. Like many of us during the COVID-19, Dr. Lee is working remotely, except that for the near term she is still located in Ohio. She has met with many CHRI investigators and is already staying busy providing statistical consultation. Dr. Lee responded to this brief Q&A interview to highlight her background and her role in enhancing CHRI’s research productivity.

Q: You are the first person to hold the position of Biostatistician for CHRI, and you joined right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. How have these aspects challenged you or made the start of your job more interesting?

A: Zoom meetings! Previously I preferred to meet investigators face-to-face with a notebook and pen so I could draw formulas or logical flow charts. However, now I’ve been getting used to the on-line meeting platform. I look forward to the time when I’m physically located in Omaha and the pandemic is over, so I can meet co-workers and investigators in person.

Q: When comparing this position with other jobs during your career, how is it different or similar? Were you previously involved in pediatric or biomedical research, or is this a new research field for you?

A: There are many similarities. Throughout my PhD program and later work, I have had a lot of experience in pediatric research, including a pediatric dental study, a pediatric obesity study and an opioid-overdose study. As a statistician, I helped to build an appropriate study design and make sure it received rigorous analysis.

Q: What kinds of project requests have you been receiving from CHRI investigators since beginning your job?

A: Currently, I work with 14 different investigators/studies. The study investigators or coordinators request my help across various tasks including data analyses, grants, manuscripts, abstracts for conference presentations, IRB protocols and more.

Q: Many investigators with limited training and experience in statistical analysis consider it a difficult part of their research. What are the keys to a successful consultation between investigator and statistician?

A: I believe a robust and strong research design is very important. Many data that I receive are observational, retrospective and have a small sample size, and a study with small sample size needs special attention to data analysis. The best advice for an investigator is to contact a biostatistician at the moment of starting a project. Contacting a statistician in the beginning will benefit your study and eliminate problems when you get to the stage of analyzing data and trying to publish results.

Q: What additional skills and expertise do you have, which you hope to utilize in future collaborations or consultations?

A: I use a software called Mplus, which is able to do mediation effect analysis, structural equation modeling and latent growth modeling. I’m eager to collaborate with any investigator who wants to develop a validation of a new measurement method or multiple path modeling analysis using Mplus.

In addition, I have taught Koran language and culture to Korean-American elementary children for a several years. If anyone wants to publish their article in Korean, I am willing to help!