New Center Brings Biostatistics under One Umbrella

Peter Peduzzi, PhD and James Dziura, PhD

YCCI fosters interdisciplinary collaborations that have the potential to bring medical discoveries from the laboratory to the patient. One recent example of this effort is the newly established Yale Center for Analytical Sciences (YCAS), which is supported by the School of Public Health, YCCI and the Yale Cancer Center. YCAS brings together biostatistics expertise under one umbrella to aid investigators with the design, conduct and analysis of clinical and translational research. The center has a three-part mission:

  • To provide infrastructure and resources to investigators needing biostatistical support
  • To advance the development of innovative biostatistical and epidemiological methods
  • To educate and train the next generation of researchers

"There is a slew of biostatistics across the campus happening in silos that we aim to bring together under YCAS," said Peter Peduzzi, PhD, director of YCAS and professor of public health (biostatistics). "It's a central clearinghouse of expertise that links individuals and promotes strong collaborations."

Investigators utilizing YCCI resources receive biostatistical support through YCAS, which currently has eight PhD-level biostatisticians/epidemiologists and four master's degree-level biostatisticians, plus a statistical programmer and two graduate students. Peduzzi joined Yale to head YCAS in 2010 after serving as director of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Cooperative Studies Program in West Haven, Connecticut—which is a national program within the VA's Office of Research and Development that conducts multicenter and multinational clinical trials and epidemiologic studies.

YCAS's collaborative products include statistical collaboration for grant and protocol preparation: manuscript preparation and review: and training in biostatistics and epidemiology. In addition, the center is developing capabilities to enhance the design and analysis of early-phase clinical trials, biomarker studies, and high-dimensional data as well as coordinating center capabilities for clinical trials. Collaborations with investigators from the medical school departments (pediatrics, emergency medicine, cardiology, immunology, pulmonology, and medical oncology), the Child Study Center, the Program on Aging, the Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center, the Liver Center, the Polycystic Kidney Center, the School of Nursing, and the VA are also major foci of the center.

Equipping investigators with biostatistics know-how is crucial to their ability to succeed in today's clinical research environment. "It's more and more difficult to even read literature without biostatistics knowledge," said Peduzzi. The Committee to Establish the Scientific Foundation for Future Physicians, organized by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has also recognized the importance of biostatistics training. In an effort to make the standard premed curriculum more relevant to the practice of modern medicine the committee is likely to recommend that medical schools replace such required courses as organic chemistry and calculus with scientific competencies in such areas as biochemistry and statistics.

Investigators seeking YCAS collaboration have several avenues to pursue, including e-mail, telephone, or accessing the YCAS website. The center also conducts regular research and design clinics that provide a forum for investigators who submit ideas in advance to obtain input and discuss their projects with colleagues. It also offers regular analytic clinics where investigators can bring their data for consultation about analysis. "It will take time and resources, but we want to be a focal point for collaborative research for the medical school and beyond," said Peduzzi.