Journey Penney

Journey Penney, Graduate student, Biostatistics

Targets Huntington's disease

• Hometown:  Anchorage, AK
• Faculty mentor/advisor:  Daniel Sewell, Assistant Professor, Biostatistics
• What is your degree program and expected graduate date? M.S. in Biostatistics, May 2020
• Please describe your research: My research pertains to Huntington’s Disease, and it aims to help clinical trialists who are testing the ability of new treatments to slow down disease progression. Since there is an abundance of clinical measures that relate to different aspects of Huntington’s Disease, it is difficult to decide on an outcome to use when evaluating the efficacy of a treatment. We have developed and implemented a method that determines a sparse combination of measurements that is optimal in detecting treatment effects, and we also have conducted statistical analyses to demonstrate that our method outperforms existing methods.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? Huntington’s Disease is a genetic disorder with no known cure, and it is essential to help improve current clinical trials which seek to find successful therapeutic treatments. Our research provides a set of measures that is practical (in number) to collect and is optimal in assessing treatment efficacy. Furthermore, our method generalizes beyond Huntington’s Disease, so it can be used to construct a meaningful set of measures for analyzing disease progression in other diseases of interest as well.
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Being involved in research has played an important role in my learning at this university. It has improved my analytical skills, strengthened my programming skills, and allowed me to apply concepts from class to real world problems. Research has also been a great collaborative experience, giving me the opportunity to work with others- both within and outside of the biostatistics department.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I am currently looking around for biostatistics jobs. I look forward to continuing to address public health problems, provide statistical support for research, and collaborate with others.

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