Biostatistics Research

We have an active program in methodological research. Our areas of interest are broad and most of the research is devoted to the development of new statistical procedures that can be applied to the division’s collaborative research program.

Collaborative Research

There are many research organizations within the Medical College of Wisconsin and its affiliates with whom the Division's faculty conduct joint research. Via Research Assistantships and Consulting Services students get an opportunity to work in collaborative projects with groups such as those below. 

Biostatistics Consulting Service
The Medical College of Wisconsin Biostatistics Consulting Service provides statistical support to biomedical investigators. Faculty and students often work with the Consulting Service to provide researchers assistance with research studies. Services offered include planning, data collection, analysis, and reporting.
The Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network 

The Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMTCTN) is a multi-center network funded by the NIH and NCI to implement clinical trials in the field of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. It was established to conduct large multi-institutional clinical trials. Trials address important issues in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), thereby furthering understanding of the best possible treatment approaches. Participating BMT CTN investigators collaborate through an organization designed to maintain continuity of operations, to facilitate effective communication and cooperation among participating transplant centers and with collaborators at the National Institutes of Health, and to offer trials participation to patients in all regions of the U.S. Corporation.


MCW Biostatisticians support the clinical trials network through the Data Coordinating Center (DCC) in terms of designing the clinical trials and analyzing the trial results.

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The Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research 

The Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) was formed by a merger of the National Marrow Donor Program in Minneapolis and the International Blood and Marrow Transplant Registry (IBMTR) at the Medical College of Wisconsin. It has enjoyed a positive, collaborative association with the Division of Biostatistics in the MCW Institute for Health & Equity since 1980, an association that is a distinctive asset and crucial to the success of CIBMTR research. Biostatisticians ensure the statistical integrity of CIBMTR scientific activities, contribute to results in articles on hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT)-related statistical issues for clinical audiences, and support Working Committee study investigators in developing scientific study protocols using CIBMTR data. CIBMTR biostatisticians have pioneered novel methodological approaches to analyzing HCT data.


HCT is a complex process with multiple competing risks and dramatic changes in the risks of specific events over time. The CIBMTR has developed and evaluated the statistical models used in HCT research and helped guide the research community in appropriate application and interpretation of these sophisticated models.

The Center for Patient Care and Outcomes Research

pcorfacultyThe Center for Patient Care and Outcomes Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin is made up of faculty and support staff who focus on research related to health care services and patient outcomes. Many research projects are population based, utilizing various large databases such as the SEER-Medicare linked records and Medicare billing records. Not all projects in the Center rely on such secondary data. Primary data collection is currently under way for studies of chronic rhinosinusitis, osteoporosis, breast cancer care, colon cancer screening and the role of numeracy in cancer screening behavior. Professors Prakash Laud and Sergey Tarima work with physicians and other medical researchers in the Center. Biostatistics PhD students are provided opportunities to work in the Center. Most of the projects here are funded by government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense or by private foundations.


The Clinical and Translational Science Institute 


Professor Szabo is the Biostatistician for the Translational Research Unit of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). The Biostatistics CTSI Key Function includes:

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The Genomic Sciences and Precision Medicine Center 

Tao-WangThe Genomic Sciences and Precision Medicine Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin provides academic support for researchers at MCW who use the genomic sequence to understand disease and translate this information from the laboratory to the patient. Most of the research projects in the Center are funded by government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. The research areas include various directions in genomics, high throughput sequencing and the development and use of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP's), microarray analysis and bioinformatics. Professor Tao Wang is associated with this Center.


The National Marrow Donor Program 
Professor Brent Logan serves as the biostatistician for the corporate activities of the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match®National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) in Minneapolis. The NMDP is NMDP/Be The Match is a global leader in bone marrow transplantation. They conduct research to improve transplant outcomes, provide support and resources for patients, and partner with a global network. All centers in their network must meet quality standards. These standards are put in place to make sure that donors and patients receive high quality care and government standards are met.

Projects of statistical interest include projections of the optimal registry size and composition and development of some means of grading performance of NMDP centers in terms of patient survival.

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Methodological Research Areas of Interest

The Faculty of the Division of Biostatistics has an active program in methodological research. The areas of interest are broad and most of the research is devoted to the development of new statistical procedures that can be applied to the division’s collaborative research program. 

Bayesian Methodology
Bayesian methodology is finding increasing number of applications in Biostatistics. This is reflected in the work of the faculty in the Division. Professor Prakash Laud has been conducting methodological research in Bayesian nonparametric and semiparametric techniques, especially as applicable to survival data. He has also published papers in parametric Bayesian methodology, in linear and generalized linear models with an emphasis on model selection. Professor Brent Logan also has an interest in Bayesian methods, in particular in the areas of clinical applications and in the analysis of fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) data.
Clinical Trials
Professor Brent Logan, working in the area of multiple comparisons, has interests in clinical trials with multiple end points and multiple decisions. He has proposed designs for randomized phase II clinical trials in which one is interested in evaluating several new treatments prior to a comparative phase III clinical trial. Professor Logan provides biostatistical support to a multicenter clinical trials network for blood and marrow transplant research.
Image Analysis
The Medical College of Wisconsin is a leading institution in the area of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) research with interdisciplinary research involving several departments such as Neurology, Psychiatry, Radiology and Biophysics. From the Division of Biostatistics, Professor Brent Logan, Rowe and Mei-Jie Zhang are conducting collaborative and methodological work in this area. Professor Zhang has analyzed fMRI data using covariate adjusted ROC curves, working with Professor Lee of the Biophysics Department. Professor Logan has compared individual voxel thresholding methods for identifying active voxels in single-subject fMRI datasets. Professors Rowe and Logan have proposed a way to directly model the complex valued fMRI data, rather than just the magnitude data as is typically done in fMRI analysis.

Model Selection
Model selection is one of the central issues in the application of statistical methods. It includes comparison of two models, variable selection in linear and generalized linear models, and model checking via goodness of fit tests as well as diagnostic statistics and plots.
Multiple Comparisons
The problem of multiple comparisons arises when performing many hypothesis tests, in which case the “familywise error rate” or chance of one or more incorrect significant findings among all these tests increases with the number of tests being performed. Professor Logan has a keen interest in this area in which he continues to publish new methods and applications. Working with Professor Rowe, Professor Brent Logan has investigated multiple comparison thresholding techniques in single-subject fMRI analysis. Professor Logan's work with Professor Tamhane at Northwestern University includes the problem of comparing two treatments at multiple endpoints and multiple comparison procedures to identify the minimum effective dose and/or maximum safe dose in the dose-response setting. In collaboration with Professor Mei-Jie Zhang, Professor Logan has investigated methods for controlling the familywise error rate when performing pairwise comparisons among several groups when the outcome is the time to an event of interest.

Statistical Genetics
The Division's research in statistical genetics is led by Professor Tao Wang. His recent work includes various genetic data analyses, linkage and association mapping of disease genes, modeling and methodology development for association mapping of quantitative trait loci, and haplotype association analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).

Specifically, Professor Wang explored the definitions and properties of additive, dominance and epistatic effects of QTL and partition of genetic variance in an equilibrium as well as in a disequilibrium population. In joint work with Professors Weir and Zeng he developed a population-based multipoint LD method for fine mapping of quantitative trait loci. A mixture model was applied to describe the relationship between phenotype and QTL genotypes. An EM algorithm was developed to estimate the genetic effects of QTL and joint haplotype frequencies of QTL and markers.

Survival Analysis
The Division is developing an international reputation as a locale for statistical research in the area of survival analysis and longitudinal data analysis. This area is anchored by the collaborative work of Professors Klein and Mei-Jie Zhang with the researchers at Department of Biostatistics at the University of Copenhagen, which has resulted in 12 years of funding from the National Cancer Institute. Professor Prakash Laud is well known for his work in Bayesian methods for survival analysis. Professor Logan has also made contributions to this area.

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