Richard Zink, Ph D , SAS Book Author

Female speaker

So today we have Richard Zink who we are interviewing. Richard, could you please tell us a bit about your career path and any publications and professional accomplishments you’d like to tell us about?

Richard Zink

Sure thing! First of all, thanks for having me, for giving me the opportunity to talk to you today. So a little bit about my background and how I ended up at SAS where I currently at. I obtained a masters and a Ph.D. in biostatistics at UNC-Chapel Hill, and I initially went into the pharmaceutical industry. At first, I went into I guess what would be that characterizes large [inuadible00:54] at Bristol Myer Squibb where I worked in antiviral and oncology for about 3 years. Specifically, I worked within chronic hepatitis B infection and chronic myeloid leukemia, and after 3 years at Bristol Myer Squibb I relocated back to North Carolina and joined a little biotech company directing 100 people and the R&T function and I was responsible for the ophthalmology programs there at the company and also got involved with the non-clinical development across respiratory and [inaudible01:39]. And initially, with that company, some of the drug products that they were trying to develop was a drug product in cystic fibrosis and sort of finally at the finish line of the second phase 3 trial that was unsuccessful, so I found myself being laid off and looking for another job. And my wife had encouraged me to look at SAS and SAS was something I decided I wanted to consider when I was a doctorate student but based on the recommendations I went into clinical trials and this position came up the one that I was currently working at so. I mean research statistician development within the JMP Line Scientist Group and our particular group is responsible for 2 products: JMP clinical and JMP [inaudible02:39]. So these are vertical products that use both JMP and SAS to analyze life science data and specifically well I am a developer for JMP clinical. I see these standards and develop tools that will allow people to analyze and see this for meditated sense form clinical trials to analyze safety endpoints then the quality and potentially even generate adverse [inaudible03:10].

And just to give a quick overview of all the work I have done as a SAS author, so I have a couple of books that I contributed, the first here “risk-based monitoring and fraud detection in clinical trials using JMP and SAS.” So that is a text that is specific to JMP clinical; we would develop some tools you know related to examining data quality and clinical trials in an ongoing fashion. I also got involved with a couple of SAS specific books the first of which “Modern approaches to clinical trials using SAS.” This was an edited volume with a number of different analyses and from sequential designs in clinical trials, dose-response analyses and even analyses particular to prediction and using genomic biomarkers. So I was an editor and contributed to one of those chapters. One of the more recent SAS publications, I came out with the “Analysis of clinical trials using SAS,” practical guide, second edition; I contributed specifically to chapter 2 advanced randomization techniques, so there is a SAS [inaudible03:39] that I had written before – randomization based non-parametric analysis of co-variance in chapter 2. It’s really sort of the background of the material, the statistical methodology but also shows you how to the MACRO for this analysis.

That is part of my background, and I’m sorry if that went long.

Female speaker

You’re an expert, so that’s wonderful, we’re thrilled to have you here which sets us going to the next question; so, can you propose 3 valuable tips or strategies that are necessary to become a top SAS programmer?

Richard Zink

I’ve used SAS now for over 20 years, I think I started programming as an undergraduate student in 1994, but now high school students are even taking classes in SAS programming. I think like anything else to become really good in any particular skill you need to practice with it to get really good at it. But as far as the 3 recommendations I can give, I think part of what you need to do is as a SAS programmer is to look at every release and whether it’s in base or SAS BASE or SAS STAT or SAS ILM for example and see what kind of new features come out that you can take advantage of. And often these new features come about because of a particular task either to programming in the data step or placing parts or your code using… could be replaced by using a single SAS procedure. So, keeping an eye on that and figuring out how you can take advantage of those functionalities. I also think that SAS has very good documentation particularly with all of the procedures, so if you have an idea or want to figure out to use a particular analysis, you can go to the SAS documentation, read the examples, and start by just grabbing the data that you can use in different procedures.

Going further beyond that, the books that get released either through SAS press or some of the other SAS publications tell you how to address certain types of methodology using SAS softwares – those are awesome, very useful, they often come in simultaneous sets. Robust Macros and extended functionality of SAS those are always good.

I think the third thing that you can do to become a top SAS programmer is to take advantage of some of the online resources. Even as a developer I will use the power of Google to help me find solutions to my problems and quite often this will take me to some things that are widen SAS for example Rick Wicklin has a  SAS blog called [name missed08:16]; really detailed and very good explanations to that concept, statistical methodologies and the way to solve that using code; that is a very good source of information, but you can often find papers from SAS [ name missed08:35] or recently Fuse where they summarize coding approaches to address particular analytic challenges. these are my 3 recommendations.

Female speaker

Ok! Fantastic! Thank you. So question number 3, what is your favorite SAS procedure and why?

Richard Zink

This is an interesting question, and I honestly don’t think that I have a favorite procedure per say since I tend to use a lot of different procedures in my day-to-day work. But if I had to take one tool then that I turn to repeatedly that would be the SAS Macro facility to try to make a section of codes that are reproducible to combine the efforts across, enlarging other codes and so. The Macro facility I use quite a bit but if I did have to pick one procedure, and this is a little bit different to your question, but there is one procedure that recently, within the last few years that I think has a really useful feature that not a lot of people know about and its PROC MULTTEST. So in a lot of our simulation work that we need to take advantage of, you know we often need to do resampling of our data sets either with or without replacement and this can be done using PROC MULTTEST, you can supply your data sets and basically shove in your treatment codes to resample your data set; basically I’ll put all of these to an output data set that you can then use and the number of SAS procedures to analyze using a  [inaudible10:25] statement to do a resampling base [inaudible10:33].

I think this is something that many people don’t often realize PROC MULTTEST, they may tend to use PROC SURVEY SELECT and [inaudible10:44], but PROC MULTTEST is a bit more efficient at doing this. Anybody wants to take advantage of that just look at the bootstrap and permutation options…

Female speaker

Alright! Thank you, and that was the bonus tip. Thank you. Ok the last question, do you have any closing words for our listeners?

Richard Zink

Any closing words for listeners? That is a good question. I think really when it comes to programming and trying to be an effective programmer, and you would often start very small and once you’re able to address a particular program even if it’s something very straightforward, you can eventually get to a place where you’re tying together codes form several small problems and eventually that will lead you to write some very complex Macros. I think the key is to stick with the programming and really look what other resources available out there so that you can take advantage of other people’s expertise and also learn some new skills for yourself as far as programming is concerned, and this is something, that I had to do too, so there are some things in SAS that you can use for very straightforward problems, but when you get into scenarios for example when you have very large datasets, you get to use very different set of tools. You learn those things along the way but if something simple works use the simple tools and go for the more advanced stuff as you go up. That is the simplest thing I can say about that.

Female speaker

Richard thank you very much for your time and your expertise, we really appreciate it. So thank you!

Richard Zink

Thank you!

#SAS #BigData #DataScience #MachineLearning #SAScommunities #SASusers #SASGrid #analytics #SASsoftware

 

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