Life Beyond P-Value

If you’re a significant gene, how DO you become truly understood beyond your P-value? Biological analysis in IPA can do the trick.

By Sheila Colby and Amy Palmer

You’re a gene, you’ve been expressed, and some clever researcher noticed you through a statistical analysis. You’ve got a very low p-value— you’re quite significant! But then what?  Sigh of relief and clear path to fame, like the recently publicized “master switch” KLF14?  It’s far from guaranteed.  That one little number — can you trust your researcher to know what to do next? From statistical significance to true biological meaning, now that’s a leap.  “But I’m more than a number!” you argue.  “I have meaning, and relevance! I regulate your biological process! I’m kind of a big deal! Keep going!” But alas, that may not happen. So many of your friends — fine genes, with tiny p-values— have been doomed, buried in a spreadsheet, their true natures never revealed.

But — maybe you’re lucky. Maybe your researcher knows a better approach that can lift you out of obscurity by really getting to know you.  Maybe she knows how to quickly interpret your true biological meaning. She knows that if she gets you right into IPA for a comprehensive biological analysis, she’ll quickly find out about your function, your friends, neighbors, your key upstream regulators and downstream effects.  Even your history — what’s been published about you, known interactions, connections to drugs and diseases, and more.  What happened last week in that miRNA experiment – what role did you play? You’re a complicated individual, with so many connections to be understood.  If you are lucky enough to be studied by a researcher who knows how to see you in a way that represents your life before the experiment, using a tool like IPA, you’re going to shine.  When you are just being yourself, in your native pathway, connections revealed. Now you’re backed both by basic sound statistics and deep biological evidence.  Now your life has more meaning. Now you can move forward —be part of a new hypothesis and a bigger experiment, maybe even an NGS run. Best of all, you’ll probably be published for all the world to see. Your p-value is well behind you, and you’ll have a shot at the big time – and becoming a master switch, too!