The Statistics of Diagnostic Testing

Dr. Charles Courtney

11 a.m., May 31, 2020

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This online Forum will be on the topic of “The Statistics of Diagnostic Testing”, and will be presented by Dr. Charles Courtney.

Here is Dr. Courtney’s summary of his talk:

“My talk will begin with a few comments about the nature of the two major types of tests used to detect COVID-19, i.e. the antibody test (a test for the the presence of a patient’s immune response to COVID-19 virus) and the nasal swab test (a test for the presence of nucleic acids of COVID-19 virus). Then I will dwell into the tricky field of the statistics of using diagnostic tests in general, including a definition of the various statistical parameters used in interpreting diagnostic testing in a population, factors affecting the usefulness of these test statistics, the problem of the “Gold Standard” in developing a new test, and the optimization of a diagnostic test for a particular purpose.”

Charles H. Courtney is a native of South Carolina and a graduate of Clemson University (1969), attending that institution on an athletic scholarship for swimming. Following service as a naval officer, he changed careers and completed his pre-veterinary requirements while earning an MS degree in Veterinary Science from the University of Florida (1973). He subsequently earned his DVM degree from Auburn University (1977), worked for two years in a small animal/equine practice in New Port Richey, Florida, and finally earned a PhD degree in veterinary parasitology from The Ohio State University (1982). Dr. Courtney then joined the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine and remained there for 30 years until his retirement in 2012. During his career at UF,  he rose through the faculty ranks to full Professor and served the college in a series of administrative posts that included Chair of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies. Dr. Courtney’s expertise is in the epidemiology and control of helminth parasites of livestock and the epidemiology and serodiagnosis of canine heartworm. He has served as president of the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists, secretary treasurer of the American Heartworm Society, and chair of the Research and Graduate Deans Committee for the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. His true passion in life is salt water fishing. He has served as president of the Gainesville Offshore Fishing Club, edited Big Bend Angler magazine, and was a Coast Guard-licensed charter captain. In his retirement he is also an avid bicyclist, riding an average of 100 miles each week, and avid gardener, maintaining a 2000 sq.ft. vegetable garden that provides fresh vegetables year round in Florida’s mild climate, and, as time permits, he builds furniture.


The Statistics of Diagnostic Testing – Charles H. Courtney, DVM, PhD from Humanist Community-SiliconValley on Vimeo.

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