Campus News

Winter Institute for Biostatistics offers undergrads research opportunity

Students at computers during the BERD winter institute.

Students work at computers during the BERD Winter Institute, held during winter break.

By JACKIE HAUSLER

Published February 18, 2019

headshot of Gregory Wilding
“For the majority of the students, this is their first experience in research. Many of them have now expressed interest in pursuing additional education and a career in biostatistics after completion of their undergraduate studies.”
Gregory E. Wilding, professor and chair
Department of Biostatistics

The Department of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health and Health Professions recently launched a new research program for undergraduates during the 2018-19 winter break.

The Biostatistics Epidemiology and Research Design (BERD) Undergraduate Winter Institute for Biostatistics was designed to address the widening gap between the demand for qualified biostatisticians and the available supply through student exposure to the discipline. This program provided 13 undergraduates with didactic classroom instruction in basic biostatistical and epidemiological methodology, as well as mentorship from individual BERD faculty, to help students understand how to effectively apply the methodology in an actual clinical and translational research setting.

The inaugural BERD Winter Institute kicked off in December with a week of on-site classroom and instruction before the students departed for the holidays. From Dec. 22 through Jan. 22, participants worked remotely on research projects under faculty mentorship. Throughout the course of the institute, participants also learned statistical programming using R statistical software; explored graduate and career opportunities, and participated in networking activities; visited the UB Clinical and Translational Research Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus; and gained firsthand insight from alumni in the field. When the students returned to campus in January, the institute culminated with a poster presentation.

“For the majority of the students, this is their first experience in research. Many of them have now expressed interest in pursuing additional education and a career in biostatistics after completion of their undergraduate studies,” says Gregory E. Wilding, chair of the Department of Biostatistics.

“We are so fortunate to offer them this opportunity to participate and expose them to possibilities for their future.”

The program is supported by the UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) through a grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (UL1TR001412) and by the UB Department of Biostatistics. Participation in the program is offered at no cost, including all necessary academic materials, meals and a treasure trove of knowledge to take with them.

“Biostatisticians play a key role in the design and conduct of rigorous clinical research studies,” says Timothy F. Murphy, director of the CTSI, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Medicine and senior associate dean for clinical and translational research in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. “This exciting program aligns well with an important goal of the CTSI to train the next generation of clinical and translational researchers. It was great to see the enthusiasm of these potential future biostatisticians.”

In addition to Wilding, SPHHP faculty assisting with the institute included Dietrich Kuhlmann, Jeffrey Miecznikowski, Guan Yu, Jiwei Zhao, Austin Miller and Michael LaMonte.