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Profiles of AWIS Members in Statistics: Margarita Lopatin

Statistics is a unique field.  The universal nature of the skills you acquire assures many paths being open to you throughout your career as these skills can be applied to any area of life, science or business.  Being able to derive a story from the multitude of data is fascinating and fulfilling.  Importantly, the applied nature of the work appealed very strongly to me as I want to see a direct impact of what I do on real people.

I’ve been fascinated with math and people since an early age. First studying at a school for mathematically gifted children, and then at the top Siberian university, I enjoyed learning mathematics, especially the theory of probability and operations research, applied to the study of large-scale economic behavior.

When my family moved to a warmer climate – Minneapolis – I continued studying, this time choosing to apply statistics to the study of living beings. I found this incredibly appealing, and received my master’s degree in Statistics, with a minor in Biostatistics, from the University of Minnesota.

Continuing the pattern, we moved to yet a warmer climate – Silicon Valley – and I was given the opportunity to apply what I learned at Cygnus Inc., a biomedical company which developed the Glucowatch®, a first of its kind non-invasive blood glucose monitor.  During my 6 years there, we went through a successful FDA submission and launched the device.  This was the first time I felt how my work directly affected the lives of people burdened with debilitating disease.  My next adventure was at Scios, a Johnson & Johnson company, where I analyzed data from >180,000 patients in the Acute Decompensated Heart Failure registry to improve the quality of care.   Three years down the road, I heard about Genomic Health, an innovative company in the personalized medicine arena which was breaking new ground in the application of genomics to oncology.  And since 2007, I have had a pleasure of working with incredibly talented and motivated researchers from different fields on development and validation of the novel genomic assays to help treat patients with cancer.

Career Advice from Ms. Lopatin:
Actively seek opportunities to collaborate with knowledge experts in various fields. As statisticians, we are the ‘lubricant’ which helps generation and dissemination of knowledge between different areas of science and society and I think this will only increase with time.  And don’t forget the importance of the ‘soft skills’ as the ability to clearly communicate, lead and motivate is paramount.  

Margarita Lopatin is Lead Program Biostatistician at Genomic Health, Inc. in Redwood City, CA.  Ms. Lopatin has a master’s in statistics from the University of Minnesota.  In her spare time she enjoys reading, hiking, gardening and travel.  Her husband, son and daughter are enthusiastic companions on her continous learning journey.


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