Faculty Retreat 2015-11-13
Department of Biostatistics
2525 West End Avenue| Archive

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Vision for the Department

  • Where do we want to be in 5 years? What do we want to be known for?
  • We need to be known for using (AND DEVELOPING) best practices of biostatistics to improve health outcomes and in helping Vanderbilt to become a learning healthcare system.
  • We need to define 10, 5-year goals that are SMART to accomplish by 1/1/2021, for example:.
    • Goal #1. At least 90% of the members of this department rate this department as a great place to work and would like to continue working here. (Have an external consultant conduct exit interviews to learn about retention issues.)
    • Goal #2. Our department helped increase Vanderbilt's NIH research funding to >$400M per year. We need to each faculty member to volunteer to be a PCORI reviewer and help Vanderbilt increase the PCORI funding to >$100M
    • Goal #3. We demonstrated that by using modern robust statistical methods and predictive modeling techniques, Vanderbilt was able to accomplish >5 of the Pillar Goals. We take the lead on important translational research projects and decrease the amount of time that we spend giving physicians P Values for less impactful projects. We need to focus on the big questions in healthcare and biomedical research.
    • Goal #4. Our department has >100 highly-skilled applied biostatisticians who are effective collaborators.
    • Goal #5. The statistics courses taught by our faculty have student evaluations that rank in the upper quartile and we create a high-quality online degree program with a series of teaching videos to expand our teaching reach. We become much for evidence-based about evaluating our own teaching, service, and impact. We integrate best practices into our training programs.
    • Goal #6. We create and use a comprehensive incentive program for raises and bonuses based on factors that are aligned with the Vanderbilt's leaders, for example participating in Studios and study sections. More than 90% of the department approves of the incentive program. [Bryan: I like the incentives, but given the great diversity of roles in the department, it will be tricky to define the right incentives.] Agree. It can be tricky but others have done this and we can also. The alternative - a department without incentives - will be problematic.
    • Goal #7. Graduates from our program are skilled at all aspects of biostatistics and are prepared to teach and work in a collaborative environment.
    • Goal #8. We create a culture of collegiality in which all member of the department are treated with respect and we ban the pejorative terms, such as "MS biostatistician". We create a low-stress, fun, but productive, healthy work environment, with healthy food choices at events and a healthy work-life balance. We encourage and reward positive, solution-oriented, can-do attitudes.
    • Goal #9. Each and every member of the department leads a Continuous Quality Improvement project, which factors into raises and promotions. The faculty must lead by example with 100% participation before asking any staff to lead CQI projects. A key to the success of this goal is that each person must be the project leader of their own CQI. People can work in teams but the team must have a leader responsible for the success of the project.
    • Goal #10. We provide more administrative and project management support to faculty, especially when they are submitting grants and papers. Each faculty member is assigned 0.20 FTE of administrative/project management support. Part of the $8500 scientific resource fee is used to fund this.
    • Goal #11. Grow methodological research. For example, we have 10 methods grants, an average of 20 papers per year in top statistics/biostatistics journals, and are respected across the nation not just for our high quality collaborative research, but as leaders in developing new and important statistical methods.
  • I imagine we all would say that we want to be good at teaching, methods research, collaboration, and computing -- but with limited bandwidth/funding, what do we want to prioritize.
  • If methods research is a priority, then how do we make it a reality?
  • Is teaching undergraduates in our department vision?
  • How to align our vision for the department with that of the Medical Center? Both the Medical Center's vision for itself and the Medical Center's vision of our department.
  • How do we maximize our impact on biomedical research?
    • In addition to how we market ourselves and whom we teach, by being true to our principles and being rigorous
  • How do we want to meet new challenges in the era of big data analystics to improve our impact? What can we do to maximize our contribution to further Vanderbilt's sucess in personalized medicine?

State of the Department

  • Health of budget
  • Faculty external funding performance
  • Summary of 2015 SOM faculty survey for Biostatistics
  • Summary of 2015 custom department survey and publication output

Institutional Academic Support for Faculty

  • How do we formulate % effort to cover with and without teaching commitments?



  • What is the minimum % effort for a senior biostatistician to accept on a grant?
  • What is the minimum % effort for the junior biostatistician?
  • How to limit risks to grant non-participation

Collaboration Plan

  • What is working?
  • What is not working?
  • Should the plan evolve?
  • How can we quantify the long-term payoff to other departments/divisions for taking part in the collaboration plan?

Possible Funding Options

  • Recruit ahead: one PhD faculty member, one staff biostatistician, instant response to NOGA
  • Have institutional academic support for faculty that has the right target average but will
    • allow protected time to shrink below the target upon NOGA
    • allow protected time to grow to above the target as grants end or are transferred to another faculty member
  • How to collect information on and respond to under-met needs, e.g. grants that 20% funding available and we're only able to take 15%?

Possible New Model for VICTR Biostatistics

  • Expand VICTR to merge with collaboration plan
  • Require divisions/departments to fund part of PhD statistician "retainer" and all of the needed staff biostatistician support to qualify for VICTR assistance
  • K award support and protocol review done by divisional or department-specific biostat team

Graduate Program

  • Funding of faculty effort for teaching
  • Recognition of faculty time requirements for mentoring/heading committees
  • Requirement of non-teaching faculty to mentor MS students *TIPS, Data Science, and future directions

Other Educational Programs

  • MPH and MSCI
  • Intro service courses

Department Outreach

  • Clinics
    • Increase faculty involvement
    • Consider moving Monday clinic to 2525

Department Resources

  • Office, student, and seminar space
  • Alfresco Server
  • Computing Servers

Department Relations

  • How to create more mixing opportunities for faculty and staff?
  • Seminars and seminar space

Public Relations

  • How do we better market our value?

Department Long-Term Strategy

  • Faculty mentoring
  • Areas of expertise and specialization
  • Faculty recruiting
    • generalists vs. specialists
  • Appropriate mix and roles of 3 PhD faculty tracks, who should teach
  • Do we have a target faculty size?
  • Process for career development of MS biostatisticians, and criteria for Assistant in Biostatistics
  • How best to be ready for PCORI and VHAN
  • How do we get the SOM to understand that for us to expand to meet real needs the total cost of % effort coverage must necessarily rise?

Strategy Related to VIMPH

  • PH grand rounds 4x/yr
  • Undergrad program
Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who CommentSorted ascending
RetreatReportBiostatistics.docdoc RetreatReportBiostatistics.doc manage 38.5 K 07 Feb 2005 - 09:56 JonathanSchildcrout  
deptCustomizedSurvey2015.pdfpdf deptCustomizedSurvey2015.pdf manage 283.3 K 10 Nov 2015 - 11:11 FrankHarrell Dept. of Biostatistics Staff-Faculty Survey
2005biostfacretreatepireport.docdoc 2005biostfacretreatepireport.doc manage 28.0 K 03 Feb 2005 - 15:08 PatrickArbogast Report
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Topic revision: r42 - 13 Nov 2015, FrankHarrell

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