Biostatistics

The Division of Biostatistics engages in research, biostatistical consultation and training activities. Interested students may pursue intensive studies through the Master of Science in Biostatistics, a Master of Science in Genetic Epidemiology (for Post-Docs only), a Certificate in Genetic Epidemiology, or individual courses offered by the division.  Research activities include several independent lines of research as well as numerous collaborative projects with various departments of the medical school. Biostatistical consultation represents an important activity of the division, providing expertise in both theoretical and applied areas. The Division participates actively in a post-doctoral training through a T32 Post-Doctoral training grant in Genetic Epidemiology.

Research activities of the Division span a wide range of topics dealing with a number of disease areas and provide research opportunities at both theoretical and applied levels. Several research projects involve close interaction and collaboration with a number of research groups at the Washington University Medical Center. Independent research programs of the Division deal with genetic epidemiology of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, bioinformatics and statistical issues in imaging sciences and Alzheimer’s disease. A number of theoretical and applied problems are addressed, including nature-nurture resolution and identification of the genetic basis of risk factor domains such as lipids, obesity, blood pressure and hypertension, and insulin resistance and diabetes; exploration of gene-gene and gene-environment interactions; and multivariate associations among multiple risk factors.

Current and recent collaborative research projects include: a coordinating center for a multicenter study to assess the genetic basis of response to exercise training (HERITAGE); a coordinating center for a multicenter study on the effectiveness of a weight loss treatment implemented in primary care;  a coordinating center for a multicenter NETWORK study on the genetics of hypertension (HyperGEN), and the Family Blood Pressure Program (FBPP); coordinating centers for a multicenter study to assess the genetic basis of response to intervention through incorporation of gene-environment interactions (Gensalt); the coordinating center for the PRIDE program with the goal of mentoring junior faculty in underrepresented minorities and/or faculty with disabilities into independent research careers in biomedical sciences; the coordinating center for the Data Analysis and Coordinating Center (DACC) which tracks the education and careers of people who have participated in the NHGRI Diversity Action Plan (DAP) and NHGRI T-32s that concentrate on genomics and genetics; important collaborative studies through support roles as biostatistics cores on the Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences, the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, the Adult Children’s Study, Healthy Aging and Senile Dementia (HASD), The Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN), the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, the Silent Infarct Transfusion Study, the Optimization of Chemotherapy for Control and Elimination of Onchocerciasis, the Washington University Spotrias Center, the Washington University Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Center and Childhood Obesity Treatment. We also have a significant role on studies that focus on lung transplants, asthma, COPD, pediatric heart and ischemic heart disease and on several epidemiological research projects developing methods for increasing public awareness and utilization of measures that are known to decrease the likelihood of developing heart disease and for encouraging behaviors that will improve prognosis following a heart attack.

The Division provides consultation through the Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS), the Washington University Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Center, and the Biostatistics Consulting Service in a wide range of areas including the statistical design of experiments and clinical trials, protocol development, database management, analysis of data and interpretation of results. Some of the areas of special strength and expertise include cardiovascular biostatistics, computing and statistical packages. The Division is well-equipped to provide assistance at the stage of preparing grant applications, including careful discussions of study design, sample size calculations, randomization schemes, computer resources and data analysis.

One of the Division’s specialties is statistical genetics/genetic epidemiology. We host and participate in a postdoctoral T32 training grant in this area. Statistical genetics is the scientific discipline that deals with an analysis of the familial distribution of traits, with a view to understanding any possible genetic basis. However, one cannot study genes except as they are expressed in people living in certain environments, and one cannot study environmental factors except as they affect people who have certain genotypes. Statistical genetics is a unique interdisciplinary field that seeks to understand both the genetic and environmental factors and how they interact to produce various diseases and traits in humans. These studies are carried out in relatively large samples of participants in relevant populations, thus, the population history and dynamics often come into play. Population dynamics alter the frequency and distribution of both genetic and environmental factors, and thus, their net effect on the phenotype of interest. Some population characteristics also can be exploited for the purposes of gene discovery and mapping because the history has affected the genomic structure in a way that specific genotypes associated with disease can be identified.

Human diseases have been the focal point of these studies, and recent efforts are directed toward complex disorders such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cancer, atopy and allergies, and neurological and psychiatric disorders, to name a few. It is commonly thought that an understanding of the genetic underpinnings of such disorders will revolutionize medicine in the 21st century, enabling better preventive measures, diagnosis, prognosis and novel treatments. Given progress in the Human Genome Project, in computing power and in the creation of powerful statistical methods of analysis, we are poised to shepherd this revolution. It is an exciting time in science, and opportunities for careers in statistical genetics/genetic epidemiology abound.

NIH sponsored training programs

The PRIDE Summer Institute in Cardiovascular Genetics and Epidemiology (CGE) with a focus on Cardiovascular and other Heart, Lung, Blood and Sleep Disorders: An all-expense-paid summer institute continues in the summer of 2017 with funding from the NHLBI. The goal is to mentor junior faculty in underrepresented minorities and/or faculty with disabilities into independent research careers in biomedical sciences. For further information, visit the website at http://www.biostat.wustl.edu/pridege/ or contact the program administrator at biostat-pride-cge@email.wustl.edu

The Division holds a Post-Doctoral T32 training grant in cardiovascular genetic epidemiology from the NIH.  This training grant is available to PhDs and MDs with a background in quantitative sciences, cardiovascular sciences or experience in statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology.  Candidates must be a US citizen or permanent resident to be eligible.  For more information see our website at https://biostatistics.wustl.edu/training/pages/post-doctraininggrant.aspx, contact the Program Administrator at (314) 362-3697 or send email to post-doc-search@wubios.wustl.edu

Graduate studies

The Division of Biostatistics sponsors a Master of Science in Biostatistics (MSIBS), a Master of Science in Genetic Epidemiology (GEMS; for Post-Doctoral students only) and a Certificate in Genetic Epidemiology. The Division had sponsored the GEMS program from 2002 – 2012. In 2012 the GEMS program was streamlined as a Post-Doctoral degree program in addition to integrating some of the curriculum into the MSIBS program. Masters students who wish to have the GEMS type of training should look into the Statistical Genetic pathway of the MSIBS program.

Master of Science in Biostatistics (MSIBS)

This 18-month program offers excellent training in biostatistics and statistical genetics for students who earned undergraduate or higher degrees with majors in mathematics, statistics, computer science, biomedical engineering or other related major. It prepares graduates for rewarding employment in academia and industry and for further graduate studies.

Academic calendar

The MSIBS program begins approximately July 1 each year with preparatory workshops, followed by intensive summer semester courses. For the fall and spring courses, the MSIBS program follows the calendar of the College of Arts & Sciences. See the current MSIBS calendar at https://biostatistics.wustl.edu.

Location

The Program is currently located in the Division of Biostatistics, on the third floor of Shriners Building (706 S. Euclid Ave. at Clayton Road), Rooms 3301-3312.  At the end of January 2017, the Division of Biostatistics, including the Program, will be moving to the Bernard Becker Library 5th floor (660 S. Euclid Ave.).

Further information

See our web site, https://biostatistics.wustl.edu, contact the Program Manager at (314) 362-1384, send email to biostat-msibs@email.wustl.edu or write to:

MSIBS Program
Division of Biostatistics
Campus Box 8067
660 S. Euclid Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63110-1093
Telephone: (314) 362-1384
Fax: (314) 362-2693