As cancer research increases in complexity, interdisciplinary research methodologies are becoming more important in extracting viable results. As a result, the School of Public Health, in collaboration with the Comprehensive Cancer Center, will establish a new Center for Cancer Biostatistics within its departments.

Unlike the current research conducted through the two institutions, the new center will involve advanced statistical methods and technologies to improve the quality of results.

In April, the Public Health School announced in a press release that Biostatistics prof. Jeremy Taylor will head the center.

Taylor said the new center will be focused on statistical methods and will bring more complexity to the existing research methodologies of the school.

“It’s sort of a stimulus to get to a higher level from what we largely do already,” Taylor said. “Now we have more to offer in terms of intellectual power, focus and organization ability.”

Biostatistics prof. Trivellore Raghunathan said, given an increasing volume of available cancer-related data, a “cutting-edge method to process these data and predict the cancer-related outcomes” was required.

Though the center will be housed within the Public Health School, Raghunathan said the pool of resources utilized by the center will be a joint enterprise between University departments.

He stressed that while various University schools and colleges served as effective “administrative boundaries,” there is no reason why research should be confined within those boundaries.

“We need to comprehensively think about the methods that are needed to process all of these large amount of data,” Raghunathan said. “We thought that bringing all the faculty and staff together under one roof would facilitate much more collaboration.”

Raghunathan said analyzing data from sources such as the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, survey research and statistical trials requires a greater collaboration of resources than currently exist.

In June, faculty from the center will begin their migration into the new facility in the School of Public Health. However, Taylor said extensive planning and coordination is yet to be done.

“(The center is) open but we don’t really have a game plan of what we want to achieve,” Taylor explained.

Raghunathan said students stand to benefit from the center because of the opportunity for research grants and concentrated resource pools.

The Public Health School primarily houses graduate programs, but Raghunathan said an expansion to undergraduate students is a possibility through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program.

“By bringing everybody into one building we think that we can exploit the strength of all these individual groups and enhance the research,” he said.

Follow Amrutha Sivakumar on Twitter at @xamrutha.

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