Published Online: 15 SEP 2006
Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Encyclopedia of Environmetrics
How to Cite
Coull, B. A. and Ryan, L. M. 2006. Biological Assay. Encyclopedia of Environmetrics. 1.
- Published Online: 15 SEP 2006
Biological assay (also called bioassay) refers to methods for characterizing the potency of a stimulus based on the outcome of its application to living organisms. Traditionally, statistical methods in bioassay have focused on the estimation of the relative potency of a standard and a test drug. In environmental health research, interest often focuses on characterizing the dose–response relationships between a health effect and one or more exposures. In this setting, bioassay plays an important role in the assessment of toxicity of potentially hazardous substances; such studies (a) confirm associations between health effects and environmental exposures observed in environmental epidemiological studies, (b) provide insight into biological mechanisms underlying exposure effects, and (c) yield dose–response information that is vital for regulatory decision making. Such studies play a large role in carcinogenesis, teratogenesis, mutagenesis, and other toxicity studies, with statistical methods for analyzing bioassay data varying depending on the type of study. This article illustrates some general issues in the analysis of bioassay data by focusing on the simple setting of a rodent toxicological bioassay.