DEPARTMENT OF EPIDEMIOLOGY & BIOSTATISTICS

Research

The current research priorities for the DEB include:

  1. Cancer prevention research
  2. Clinical trials biostatistics
  3. Bioinformatics, specifically statistical methods for the analysis of DNA microarray and protein profile expression data
  4. Innovations in the design of clinical informatics systems
  5. Childhood cancer control research:
    1. Nutrition and energy balance in cancer
    2. Survivorship research
    3. Disparities research in pediatric oncology (health services research related to access to cancer care for underserved populations; e.g., adolescent and minority populations
  6. Cardiothoracic and trauma surgery clinical research
  7. Adverse pregnancy outcomes, sexually transmitted diseases, human papilloma virus-associated cervical cancer
  8. Early life and genetic predictors of obesity and type II diabetes
  9. Trajectories of age-related functional ability in diverse

The Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics is closely involved in numerous interdisciplinary research activities throughout our institution. This is clearly reflected in the funding record of the DEB faculty. The DEB's involvement in the K30, Masters of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI) degree represents significant interdisciplinary academic activity. This educational program involves faculty from each of the UT Health Science Center schools as well as trainees in all schools.

The DEB is highly interactive with departments and other centers/institutes. While we maintain close ties with many departments and other centers, based on our joint grant funding and educational activities, we have particularly close ties with the following programs:

  1. Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA)
  2. UT Health Science Center-UTSA Bioinformatics/Computational Biology Program
  3. Cancer Therapy and Research Center (CTRC)
  4. Veterans Evidence-based Research, Dissemination, and Implementation CenTer (VERDICT)
  5. Children's Cancer Research Institute (CCRI)
  6. Pain research program centered coordinated out of the School of Dentistry
  7. Center for Bipolar Illness
  8. Barshop Center for Longevity and Aging-Nathan Shock Aging Center

The DEB actively supports and is building the informatics and statistical infrastructure needed to manage and analyze high throughput genomic and proteomic studies. The DEB coordinates the new UT Health Science Center-UTSA Bioinformatics/Computational Biology Program, funded through a $2 million grant from the UT Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affair's office. This program is designed to develop core facilities, increase the use of computational methods in biology across UT Health Science Center and UTSA, and expand the resident expertise on both campuses. The Biostatistics and Medical Informatics Shared Resource for the San Antonio Cancer Institute (a P30 National Cancer Institute-designed cancer center) is maintained by the DEB. The DEB is also a component of the National Institute of Mental Health application for a Center for Bipolar Illness. The DEB plays a predominant role in the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA). The DEB runs the Biostatistics Core for the CTSA. We provide the methodological and biostatistical support throughout all stages of the research process, including protocol review (average 6—8 protocols per month), protocol development and methodological consultation on study design, statistical consultation, and provision of exploratory and sophisticated data analysis. Our efforts on protocol review and biostatistical support have earned high praise from the CTSA directors and CTSA-affiliated investigators. We have assisted these investigators in conducting high quality clinical and translational research. We have provided research administration tools using our informatics facilities and we support the CTSA's clinical informatics needs with centralized computer-based data management, database development and management, querying and reporting, data security and quality assurance reviews. As described above, we support the education and training of junior investigators with our education efforts for the K30 MSCI program administrated out of the CTSA.

The DEB played a principal role in securing the highest score in the competitive renewal of the Nathan Shock Aging Center from the National Institutes of Aging. We are co-investigators on a R01 and a program project grant (P01) with Dr. Ken Hargreaves. This collaboration focuses on delineating the Basic Mechanism of Pain using a number of approaches including laboratory investigation, in vivo and clinical studies. The DEB also provides the biostatistical support arm of the Veterans Evidence-based Research, Dissemination, and Implementation CenTer (VERDICT). The mission of VERDICT is to improve the health of veterans by researching methods of optimizing the performance of the clinical micro-systems that surround and support the health care system/patient interface. Drs. They have been instrumental, as co-authors, in advancing the VERDICT's research mission. Finally, the DEB is now closely collaborating with the Department of Surgery in the expansion of the Department's growing research base. Both medical informatics as well as biostatistical support from the DEB have been integrated into the development of clinical trials and translational studies in the areas of cardiothoracic surgery and trauma.

Other major University interdisciplinary activities include service on a number of committees including:

  1. San Antonio Life Science Institute (SALSI) Research Committee (Pollock)
  2. Bartter General Clinical Research Center Advisory Committee (Pollock, Baillargeon, Ma, Chisholm)
  3. San Antonio Cancer Institute Executive Committee (Pollock)
  4. San Antonio Cancer Institute Data Safety Monitoring Committee (Pollock, Sanns)
  5. San Antonio Cancer Institute Protocol Review Committee (Pollock, Ma, Michalek, Chisholm)
  6. eCV External Use Committee (Sanns)
  7. eIRB Implementation Committee (Sanns)
  8. UT Health Science Center Networking Sub-Committee (Sanns)
  9. UT Health Science Center Informatics Sub-Committee (Sanns)

Interdisciplinary activities that involve entities outside of the UT Health Science Center include:

  1. San Antonio UT Task Force on Public Health (Pollock, Baillargeon)
  2. Department of State Health Services Data Working Group for the Texas Cancer Registry (Pollock)
  3. Service on NIH and National Cancer Institute of Cancer grant study sections and ad hoc review committees (Pollock, Baillargeon)

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