Good News

Jonathan received the NOGA for his R01 entitled, “Outcome dependent sampling studies of longitudinal data: design and analysis.”

Cindy has had an article published in Biometrika.

Chang will have three methodology papers published this year, in Genetic Epidemiology, Communications in Statistics, and Statistics and Probability Letters. The papers discuss mixture models and a likelihood ratio test of the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium in case-control studies.

Congratulations, Jonathan, Cindy, and Chang!


Partners in Health

The VUMC Reporter published an article on departments with highest levels of participation in the Partners in Health campaign. Biostatistics was included in the ranking, with 66% participation; for more information, please see Employee support for Vanderbilt continues to be key, as senior leaders seek financial contributions outside the university.

New employees

New faculty member Kim Crimin will join the department in early November. David Afshartous, currently at the University of Miami, will visit later in the month. Both Kim and David are being considered for the VA Health Services Research team.


The MS search committee continues to work very hard, with staff candidates in the pipeline. JSM's recruitment efforts produced a number of very good candidates.


The Staff and Faculty Community Survey, usually conducted in the spring, will kick off on September 8th and run through September 25th. The timing is expected to be better; in addition, a new vendor (HR Solutions) has been chosen, and the survey has been condensed by removing the importance factor and decreasing the number of questions. A quick turnaround of survey results is expected, and results will be widely available to department members. As part of his CQI project, Pengcheng Lu will continue to work on encouraging department participation and is credited with greatly improving the department's response rate in the past.


The Fall Faculty Assembly was held this week. Chuck Federspiel provided a brief report that Hal Moses was the recipient of the Sutherland Prize; he received a Julep Cup and $5,000. Larry Churchill has been working on a study to assess physicians' demeanor, with biostatistics recently participating in a design studio. Larry's project is moving forward with IRB approval. Vanderbilt is among the most successful universities (second in the nation) in terms of minimizing endowment losses. Frank emphasized that both the spring and fall assemblies are very important and requested that these events be listed in the department calendar and that all faculty participate.


The State of the Medical Center address is scheduled for next week (September 8th at 4:00 PM, Langford Auditorium). This will be the first opportunity for the new vice chancellor to address employees in this large forum. Dr. Balser plans to emphasize research more, with slightly less emphasis on hospital results. Everyone should attend!

Visiting scholars

The division is hosting visiting scholars from Japan; Tatsuki provided a brief report. Ikuko Funatogawa, PhD, and Takashi Funatogawa, PhD, are established biostatisticians pursuing methods research. Ikuko’s research interests include longitudinal data analysis, especially application of autoregressive linear mixed-effects models to repeated annual survey data. Takashi’s research focuses on missingness in longitudinal data analysis, use of non-linear mixed-effects models to analyze pharmacokinetics, and phase I clinical trial design. In 2008, the Drs. Funatogawa published a British Medical Journal paper exploring adult weight outcomes for overweight children (“Do overweight children necessarily make overweight adults? Repeated cross-sectional annual nationwide survey of Japanese girls and women over nearly six decades.” BMJ 2008;337:a802). Ikuko and Takashi will present a department seminar in about nine months.

Other visitors

Carl Moons, professor of clinical epidemiology at the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care (the Netherlands) will visit us the week of September 21; his colleague, Linda Poehling, will accompany him. Carl, the world’s leading clinical epidemiologist in diagnostic medicine, has an adjunct appointment in our department. Carl will work closely with Ayumi to provide guest-lecturing for her clinical epidemiology course. In addition, both Carl and Linda will coordinate with Ben to present seminars during their visit.


American Heart Association campaign

Ben has agreed to spearhead the department effort and has distributed an e-mail about physical and/or monetary contributions. Thanks, Ben! Please see to give to this important cause. Heart disease continues to be the number 1 killer in the United States.


Effort certification

Bill Dupont reported a nice conversation with Gordon Bernard regarding work on new grant proposals. The current rule is that, unless the application is a competing renewal, work on new grant applications cannot be charged to existing grants. Bill learned, however, that time spent reviewing literature, conducting preliminary studies, and gathering background material can be charged; time spent keying in the grant application at the computer must not be charged. Bill pointed out that, most often, the PI has a primary theme and arranges funding for his/her central research through different mechanisms; thus, it is acceptable to charge literature review and preliminary study time for new grant applications to existing grants, as the work for the new grant is connected to the existing grants. Frank cautioned that this approach assumes one is not changing direction in the new grant. Faculty were reminded to keep abreast of percent effort and projects.


Faculty were requested to record vacation and other time out of the office in their web-based calendar, and also to make a distinction between business and personal time if a trip combines both. (For business travel, faculty must complete travel authorization forms for liability reasons.) Dale has spent considerable time researching calendars and the current recommendation is to stay with the calendar we are now using, with the correction of a few bugs.


Faculty were requested to update their human-subjects and conflict-of-interest disclosures as well as updating information in eRA Commons.


The GCM weekly update includes news about CRISP being replaced with RePORTER; please see

Meeting agenda

Frank commented that all department members should enter information into the agenda for upcoming faculty meetings.

Effort reviews

Three internal effort reviews will be conducted by the Department of Finance.


Graduate program

The graduate program proposal will be presented by Frank and Jeffrey to Bob Dittus, John Manning, and Susan Wente. Many thanks to Donna, Eve, Jeffrey, and others for their excellent work on this proposal!

H1N1 research

Frank and Jeffrey are working with Gordon Bernard to design an emergency clinical trial to investigate the use of statins to treat H1N1 flu. Statins are approved for the treatment of high cholesterol, but also have anti-inflammatory properties that may be useful in treating H1N1. The trial will include a monitoring plan that incorporates both Bayesian and likelihood approaches, which will allow for continuous monitoring of incoming data with no penalty for multiple looks. This trial has great potential to make Vanderbilt a very visible part of the H1N1 story, if the treatment is successful. Meanwhile, Yuwei and Cindy are working with Kathy Edwards on H1N1 vaccine clinical trials.


Budget proposal

The department is currently working on a budget proposal that ties success factors to allocation.

Recharge center

Faculty commented that the percent effort system does not work well for biostatistics, as work comes in bursts; in other words, projects may disappear for a while, then return. This presents a challenge with no clear solution.


Faculty were reminded to let Frank know about all grants resulting from a collaboration plan since April 1. In addition, please update the status of challenge grants on the Wiki.

Funding end dates

Frank emphasized the importance of monitoring funding end dates and doing everything we can to ensure that the department does not become responsible for any lapses. He further stated that we need a redundant system, with faculty and administrative staff working cooperatively to ensure an error-free system. Faculty should remain in regular contact with principal investigators about funding and other issues.

No-cost extensions (NCEs)

At the end of a project, available funds often are spent on items seen as critical to the study; patient recruitment and clinical costs are at the top of this list, while statistical support is lower on the list. Nevertheless, faculty may feel an ethical obligation to help a PI finish his/her project during an NCE, even if the extension is not providing support for biostatistics.

Best regards,

CQI Communications Team

Frank Harrell, Yu Shyr, Dan Byrne, Linda Stewart, and Lynne Berry

-- JohnBock - 01 Apr 2011
Topic revision: r4 - 26 Apr 2013, JohnBock

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