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Terry Katz

Head, Data Management and Statistics, Merck Animal Health
DIA GCP-QA Community Chair

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When did you realize you wanted to be a statistician working in healthcare?

Healthcare as a focus started in High School when I was working at a pharmacy and radiology office. While earning a degree in Microbiology, I gained independent laboratory research experience in molecular biology, sequencing plasmids. My first taste of how to plan a designed experiment occurred while working in nephrology research and sparked an interest in exploring the statistical field. Graduate school provided the foundation in statistics, and leveraging my dual science and statistical backgrounds to design experiments for pharmaceutical development became my passion and career.

What do you like most and least about your job?

My current role is in veterinary medicine, which provides opportunity to work with all non-human species, therapeutics and vaccines in a wide variety of applications, from anti-infectives to autoimmune diseases to animal husbandry. Many of the experimental designs parallel those used when I worked in human medicine (oncology, cardiovascular, GI, and dermatitis). Some of the veterinary designs require more sophistication than human trials to accommodate clusters of animals in pens, location blocks within a site, and geographic regions to broadly test our products against various species of indigenous bacteria or parasites. Yet, the visibility of veterinary drug development in the industry is so limited that human-based researchers often naively dismiss veterinary as less challenging.

What book are you currently reading and why?

Most of the books I have read in the past few years have been non-fiction, and the subjects are varied. Most recently I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (about the woman who was the source of HeLa), Sisters of Sinai (twins who discovered a palimpsest of the Gospels in the 1890s), Code Girls (American codebreakers during WW2), and Into Thin Air (about the 1990s Mt Everest disaster). Currently I am reading The Blue Nile (discovery of one source of the Nile) and Finding Everett Ruess (a wilderness explorer lost in 1930’s). Often, the true stories are more fantastical than the fiction novels!

Imagine a day without work, the internet, and any other obligations. What would you do?

On a warm sunny day with no obligations, hiking in the woods or visiting a National Park would be ideal. Long bicycle rides in the countryside, or spending the day kayaking are also high on the list. When the weather turns colder, hiking can continue, or with enough snow, swapping the boots for skis.

How has DIA helped you?

I look at DIA as a forum for exchanging knowledge and ideas. I found that the Annual Meetings were a great place to determine which approaches were industry-standard, and a rare opportunity to gain FDA’s and EMA’s perspectives on acceptable new methods. To stay current with trends, I joined a couple of communities and volunteered for one project that became a many-year association with the GCP-QA Community. This Community provided professional networking, a chance to contribute to seminars and publications, and a leadership role as the Community Chair.

Terry Katz is Head of Data Management and Statistics at Merck Animal Health. Previously he was Head of Biometrics at ImClone Systems, Senior Manager of Analysis & Reporting for PRA, and a Statistician at Schering-Plough. He holds Accreditation as a Professional Statistician, and Certifications as a Quality Engineer and in Six Sigma. He is Chair of DIA's GCP-QA Community, on the Core Committee for NJ CDISC User Group, and former Chair of Statistical Taskforce for the Animal Health Institute. Terry recently completed a three-month fellowship in Kenya to improve capacity to run oncology clinical trials.

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