Data science, which encompasses statistics and machine learning, bioinformatics, data management, and computing, is a critical component for robust translational research. Expertise is required throughout the life-cycle of a research project, from study design and sample collection planning, through the publication and dissemination of results, to data sharing and reuse through curated repositories. Functions provided by the DSFC include the development of experimental, clinical, environmental, and population-based study designs, monitoring data acquisition and quality, statistical analysis and interpretation of findings, and collaboration on the presentation of results. Similarly, bioinformatics expertise is crucial in modern, information-driven, high-dimensional biology. To achieve these functions, biostatisticians and informaticians collaborate with center investigators and are in regular contact with the Research Focus Groups, facility core and resource leaders, as well as the SWEHSC Internal Advisory Board. The necessity for a robust data storage and management platform is critical to these activities. Modern computing tools for reproducible research and database management (REDCap) ensure a documented and auditable record of computing and analysis steps from raw data to results reporting.
In contrast to the practice of including biostatistics after data collection, the DSFC's project support ensures data science input during initial study planning and early assistance with the development of outcome measures and study designs, as well as databases and initial data quality checks to ensure the collection of high-quality information. In addition to broad statistical, informatics, and research computing support, DSFC staff members respond to the unique characteristics of environmental translational research.
You can contact DSFC leader Dr. Dean Billheimer by calling (520) 626-9902 or click here to send him an email.
The DSFC has developed a structured approach to providing assistance for projects receiving subsidized support, to ensure that the best delivery of support results in successful research outcomes. For more information contact Dr. Dean Billheimer by calling (520) 626-9902 or click here to send him an email.
The DSFC is led by SWEHSC Deputy Director Dean Billheimer, Ph.D. Dr. Billheimer is Professor of Biostatistics in the College of Public Health at the University of Arizona, and Director of the University’s Statistics Consulting Laboratory. He has broad statistical research and consulting experience in environmental science, the aerospace industry, and biomedicine. While at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Dr. Billheimer was Co-Director/member of the Biostatistics Cores for three NCI-funded Cancer SPORE grants and the Director of the Vanderbilt High-Dimensional Data Analysis Center. Dr. Billheimer’s biomedical collaborations include numerous laboratory, translational, and clinical research projects, assisting investigators in the development of clinical research protocols, the analysis of complex data sets, and biomarker discovery and development. Dr. Billheimer has extensive experience in the development and application of novel analysis methods to high-dimensional parameter problems, especially in mass spectrometry-based proteomics. His current research interests include the statistical evaluation of measurement systems, theory of normalization, and analysis methods for compositional data. Dr. Billheimer’s leadership in the core brings an emphasis on sound study design and data analysis to the translational research projects supported by the SWEHSC.