Welcome to the BiosBeat communication tool for the Department of Biostatistics at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health! Here you will find a collection of the latest department news, special features, dates to save, and so much more. So, read on, enjoy, and be sure to regularly check back for updates!
In this edition:
Register for the 2017 Atlantic Causal Inference Conference (ACIC)
Don’t Miss: Doctoral Program Alumni Panel
BIOS student awarded Society for Clinical Trials student scholarship
BIOS student honored with ENAR’s Distinguished Paper Award
Gillings School is top public health school at public university for NIH funding
Save the Dates
ACIC is a gathering of statisticians, biostatisticians, epidemiologists, economists, social science and policy researchers for the purpose of discussing methodological issues with drawing causal inferences from experimental and non-experimental data. The inaugural meeting was held in 2005 with a small group of researchers at Columbia University. It has since grown into an annual event with more than 150 attendees. Recent meetings have been hosted by Harvard University, Brown University and New York University.
The 2017 ACIC planning committee comprises
- Stephen R. Cole, PhD, professor of epidemiology at UNC Gillings,
- Michael Hudgens, PhD, professor of biostatistics at UNC Gillings,
- Eric Laber, PhD, associate professor of statistics at North Carolina State University,
- Fan Li, PhD, associate professor of statistical science at Duke University,
- Alexander Volfovsky, PhD, assistant professor of statistical science at Duke University, and
- Daniel Westreich, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at UNC Gillings.
Visit the UNC Causal Inference Research Group (CIRG) website for information about ACIC and to learn how to register.
On Thursday, March 23, from 5:15-6:15 p.m. in 1301 McGavran-Greenberg, the Department of Biostatistics will host a panel of doctoral program alumni. The panel will discuss and share advice on topics ranging from worthwhile activities for current students to career options. This seminar will be moderated by Todd Schwartz, DrPH, research associate professor and 2004 graduate of the biostatistics doctoral program. The event will include a question and answer session at the end and students are encouraged to bring questions. The discussion will feature:
- Marcus Berzofsky, DrPH, a 2005 graduate of the master’s program and 2011 graduate of the doctoral program, now a senior research statistician in the division for statistics and data science at RTI International.
- Elaine Hoffman, PhD, a 1994 graduate of the master’s program and 1998 graduate of the doctoral program, now statistical science director of biostatistics at Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC. (PPD)
- Grace Kissling, PhD, 1981 graduate of the doctoral program, now staff scientist in the biostatistics and computational biology branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and chief statistician for the NIEHS’ National Toxicology Program.
- Naim Rashid, PhD, 2013 graduate of the doctoral program, now research assistant professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Gillings School and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Biostatistics doctoral student Ting Wang has been selected as one of three finalists for the 2017 Thomas C. Chalmers Student Scholarship, presented by the Society for Clinical Trials, for the abstract of his paper, “Auxiliary-variable-enriched Biomarker Stratified Design.”
Clinical trials in which patients are grouped and receive treatment according to common biomarkers—certain demographic, clinical-pathological, molecular or genetic profiles—can be expensive and lengthy.
To remedy these problems, the paper proposes enriching the sample of biomarker-positive patients through the enrollment of patients who are positive for a cheap and easily obtainable auxiliary variable correlated to the true biomarker. Wang’s approach retains the assessment of all treatment effects while also improving cost-efficiency.
“In a hypothetical phase III epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor trial for testing the treatment effect among patients with EGFR mutations and the interaction between treatment and EGFR mutation,” Wang said, “by using an auxiliary predictive score that considers adenocarcinomas, smoking history, gender and Asian descent, the proposed design can save 83.2 percent of patients for randomization and reduce cost by 57.9 percent compared to a standard biomarker stratified design.”
The paper’s co-authors include Haibo Zhou, PhD, professor of biostatistics, and Jianwen Cai, PhD, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor and interim chair of biostatistics, both in the Gillings School, as well as Gillings School alumnus Xiaofei Wang, PhD, associate professor, and Stephen L. George, PhD, professor emeritus, both in the Duke University School of Medicine’s Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics.
Wang will present his research at the society’s annual meeting in Liverpool, England on May 8.
“I feel extremely honored and appreciative for receiving this great award,” Wang said. “This recognition boosts my confidence and inspires me to continue pursuing my academic goal.”
Fei Gao, a biostatistics doctoral student at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has won a Distinguished Student Paper Award, presented by the Eastern North America Region (ENAR) of the International Biometric Society. Her advisers, Donglin Zeng, PhD, professor of biostatistics, and Danyu Lin, PhD, Dennis Gillings Distinguished Professor of biostatistics, are co-authors of the paper.
In some clinical studies, such as studies of chronic disease, researchers may not be able to pinpoint the time at which a particular health event occurs. However, study participants are interviewed or examined at a number of points along a timeline, and by collecting data at intervals, researchers are better able to place the health event on the timeline.
When participants do not attend one or more examination sessions, possibly for health-related reasons, data collection is diminished.
“For example, if you are sicker, you may choose to drop out of a study prematurely,” Gao said. “I wanted to do a joint analysis for this problem in which we would model the event time of interest and the dropout time together, while using a random effect to capture their association.”
She illustrated the effectiveness of the method by analyzing data from the prospective epidemiologic Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study and correcting the prediction of a diabetes event among ARIC participants by adjusting for dropout due to death.
“Fei’s work addresses an important problem in clinical and epidemiological studies,” Lin said. “Her work requires strong theoretical and computational skills and is highly relevant to medical and public health research. We’re very proud of her for winning this award.”
Gao will present her paper at the ENAR 2017 spring meeting, to be held March 12-15, in Washington, D.C.
The UNC Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center is the coordinating center for ARIC, which is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Once again, the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health is the number one public school of public health – in funding amounts from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
NIH has provided data for the 2016 fiscal year, and UNC’s Gillings School was listed as the number one school of public health in a public university, receiving $65,454,312 in funding for 107 total awards. This was the fourth consecutive year in which the Gillings School was the number one public school of public health for NIH funding and the number three university overall.
Fiscal year 2016 was the most recent period for which all funding data were available. Complete results are available here.
Congratulations to faculty and student researchers as they continue to create effective solutions for pressing public health problems, accelerate new areas of inquiry, and create new and more efficient methods. Their hard work continues to produce innovative solutions for the people of North Carolina, the nation and the world.
Thursday, March 23
Biostatistics Awards Day Reception
Lower Atrium, Michael Hooker Research Center
Biostatistics Awards Day Ceremony
0001 Michael Hooker Research Center
Grizzle Award Lecture/BIOS 843 Seminar
Seunggeun (Shawn) Lee, PhD, Assistant Professor, 2017 James E. Grizzle Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient
The University of Michigan School of Public Health, Department of Biostatistics
Doctoral Alumni Panel
1301 McGavran-Greenberg Hall
Friday, March 24
Thursday, March 30
BIOS 843 Seminar
Xiaoming Huo, PhD, Professor
Georgia Institute of Technology H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering
Thursday, April 6
BIOS 843 Seminar
Veerabhadran Baladandayuthapani, PhD, Associate Professor
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Division of Quantitative Sciences, Department of Biostatistics
Thursday, April 13
BIOS 843 Seminar
Chiung-Yu Huang, PhD, Associate Professor
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Biostatistics
Friday, April 14
Class holiday; no classes held
Thursday, April 20
BIOS 843 Seminar
Gabor Szekely, PhD, Program Director
National Science Foundation, Division of Mathematical Sciences, Statistics Program
Thursday, April 27
BIOS 843 Seminar
Wenyi Wang, PhD, Associate Professor
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Division of Quantitative Sciences, Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
Saturday, May 13
Tuesday, May 23
Wednesday, May 24
Thursday, May 25
For more Gillings School events, view the school’s event calendar.
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