Rationale and Goals

Biostatistics is one the key pillars of research into the underlying mechanisms, causes, risk factors, and therapeutic interventions for cancer. The overall goal of the Cancer Biostatistics Training Program is to increase the workforce in cancer research of biostatisticians who are educated not only in the powerful quantitative methods of modern statistics, but also in the biology, genetics and epidemiology of cancer, etiology of the disease, its natural history, prevention, and treatment.

We aim to contribute to educating and training the next generation of cancer biostatisticians and quantitative data scientists. Biostatisticians play an important role in cancer research in two inter-related ways.

First, they develop their own research on rigorous designs, methods, and models for analyzing and interpreting complex cancer data.  Second, they participate heavily in interdisciplinary cancer research, complementing the skill sets of other scientific researchers with their own advanced quantitative training. Trainees in the program will gain knowledge and experience so that they can contribute in both these ways.

The type of data and the scientific questions in cancer research have increased in complexity in the last few years. Clinical trials are now typically more complex, with the need to study targeted therapies and through the use of adaptive designs and biomarkers. Epidemiologic studies are now frequently using massive and complex datasets that might arise from electronic health records. Studies into the mechanisms of cancer development frequently involve high-throughput technologies such as genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics and proteomics as well as high-resolution imaging. These are the types of non-trivial issues that statisticians face today, and increasingly so.  

A high level of training in statistical and epidemiologic methods is required to obtain correct inferences and knowledge from such big and complex data. The cancer biostatistics training program aims to contribute to the supply of statisticians who are trained as statistical scientists and can address the complex statistical issues that will arise in cancer research and biomedical research, in general. 

The trainees will meet the goals of the training program by taking the advanced coursework and research requirements of their PhD program and at the same time learning about the science of cancer and having experience in cancer research.