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UW Biostatistics & Medical Informatics


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The Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics

is home to internationally-recognized faculty engaged in both collaborative and methodological research who have flourished in the university's deep culture of collaborative interdisciplinary science. Faculty areas of expertise include biostatistics applied to pre-clinical, clinical and population health research; biomedical and clinical informatics; and statistical genetics and genomics.

As part of its scholarly missions, the Department serves as a resource for investigators in the basic, clinical, and population health sciences, including genetics and genomics. Department faculty and staff collaborate in the design, conduct, and analyses of laboratory, clinical, epidemiologic, health services, and genetic studies with scientists and clinicians from departments and centers across the UW campus and the state. These include the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, the UW Carbone Cancer Center, and the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation.

The Department maintains strong ties to the world-class Departments of Statistics and of Computer Science at UW-Madison, through which most graduate students are trained. Many of our faculty members have joint or affiliate appointments with these Departments, as well as with Departments or Schools of Population Health Sciences, Business, Educational Sciences, and Animal and Life Sciences.

The Department currently employs over 65 individuals, including faculty, administration, MS-level biostatisticians, programmers, computer technicians and data managers.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a world-class academic institution with an international reputation for basic, applied and interdisciplinary research. UW-Madison is a large single campus of over 40,000 students with major schools of Letters and Science, Agricultural and Life Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, Medicine, Nursing, Law, Education, Pharmacy, Business, and Engineering. This campus provides an exceedingly rich environment for both undergraduate and graduate training, as well as for the practice of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics. The univerisy has recently surpassed the $1 billion mark in annual research expenditures and ranks third in the nation in science and engineering expenditures.

Department News

Jie Liu has received the American Medical Informatics Association's Marco Ramoni Prize for the paper, New Genetic Variants Improve Personalized Breast Cancer Diagnosis. Jie is a PhD candidate (CS) working with BMI faculty members Elizabeth Burnside and David Page, as well as with other collaborators from Marshfield Clinic, UW-Madison, and Essentia Institute of Rural Health. Peissig is a recent graduate of the ICTR-based Graduate Program in Clinical Investigation. The Marco Ramoni Distinguished Paper Award for Translational Bioinformatics is presented annually at the AMIA Summit on Translational Bioinformatics to a first author of the paper at the meeting that best exemplifies the spirit and scholarship of Marco Ramoni in applying informatics methods to the elucidation of basic molecular biology processes that are relevant to the conquest of human disease. Recent large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified a number of new genetic variants associated with breast cancer. However, the degree to which these genetic variants improve breast cancer diagnosis in concert with mammography remains unknown. Using de-identified data available through the Marshfield Clinic and the Wisconsin Genomics Initiative, this paper presents the results of a case-control study of collected mammography features and 77 genetic variants which reflect the state of the art GWAS findings on breast cancer. The paper demonstrates that the incorporation of the genetic variants significantly improved breast cancer diagnosis based on mammographic findings.
The paper appears as:
New Genetic Variants Improve Personalized Breast Cancer Diagnosis. Jie Liu, David Page, Peggy Peissig, Catherine McCarty, Adedayo A. Onitilo, Amy Trentham-Dietz and Elizabeth Burnside. AMIA Summit on Translational Bioinformatics (AMIA-TBI). [April 2014]

Enar 2014

BMI / Statistics students garner awards at ENAR. Congratulations to Yaoyao Xu, Yuan Wang, Ning Leng and Yuan Li for awards garnered for their work at the current meetings of the Eastern North American Region (ENAR) of the International Biometric Society. Ning Leng won one of five poster awards for her work on EBSeq-HMM: An Empirical Bayes Hidden Markov Model for Ordered RNA-seq Experiments co-authored with Yuan Li under the direction of Professor Christina Kendziorski. Yuan Wang won a student travel award for her work on Persistence Landscape of Functional Signal and Its Application to Epileptic Electroencaphalogram Data under the direction of Associate Professor Moo Chung. Finally, Yaoyao Xu was the John Van Ryzin Award for the top student paper for her work on Regularized Outcome Weighted Subgroup Identification for Differential Treatment Effects under the direction of Associate Professor Menggang Yu and Professor of Statistics Jun Shao. The John Van Ryzin Award comes with travel money and a cash prize. These are wonderful accomplishments and we offer our heartfelt congratulations to all! [March 2014]

Assistant Professor Sushmita Roy has been chosen as a 2014 Sloan Research Fellow for her work in Computational & Evolutionary Molecular Biology. She is one of 126 outstanding U.S. and Canadian researchers to receive this honor this year. From the press release: Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars, the next generation of scientific leaders.[March 2014]
Congratulations to graduate student Lee McDaniel who has been chosen as a finalist for the Society for Clinical Trials' 2014 Thomas C. Chalmers Student Scholarship. Lee was awarded funding to present his paper Sample Size Under the Additive Hazards Model at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Society for Clinical Trials, May 18-21 in Philadelphia, PA, where the winner will be chosen. The Thomas C. Chalmers Student Scholarship is in honor of Tom Chalmers, an American physician who lived until 1995. Chalmers played a pivotal role in the development of modern randomized clinical trials and was a founder of the Society for Clinical Trials. [March 2014]
Congratulations to Associate Professor Eneida Mendonca for being elected to a two year term as Secretary of the Board of Directors of the American Medical Informatics Association. AMIA is the national premier professional organization for biomedical and clinical informatics, encompassing scholarship, training and practice in the application of informatics to the study and improvement of health and health care. [December 2013]
David L. DeMets, Ph.D., Max Halperin Professor of Biostatistics--and former Chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics--is a newly elected member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on health issues facing the U.S. population. Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. It recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. The Institute of Medicine is unique in its structure as both an honorific membership and an advisory organization. This is a very well deserved recognition of Dr. Demet's many years of research and service in many areas of biomedical science, but especially of his seminal contributions to the area of clinical trials methodology. Congratulations, Dave! [29 October 2013]
Congratulations to UW Computer Science and BMI faculty member Jude Shavlik and his students Anjali Narayan-Chen and Liqi Xu (TeamWisc) for winning 3rd prize in the Angry Birds Artificial Intelligence Competition. Contestants created AI software that learned to play the angry birds game. TeamWisc placed 3rd out of 19 teams from around the world. They were the only team to represent the United States. The software is written in Java using the Google Chrome version of Angry Birds. As stated in this Cap Times Article TeamWisc pulled ahead as their version of the software used an algorithm that scoped out the area around the pigs and learned that if all the pigs were destroyed they had a good hit and if they missed it was bad as valuable means in predicting future outcomes on higher game levels. None of the programs were able to beat the human competitors, but programmers had fun trying. Participating in the competition is a vehicle for getting young scientists excited about AI concepts. Artificial Intelligence software developed in the BMI Department are used for medical research to model diseases and help doctors predict patient results. [September 2013]
BMI student Jeremy Weiss won an award for the best plenary presentation at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) 2013 Informatics Training Conference at the University of Utah in June. The NLM supports predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees in biomedical informatics at 20 educational institutions throughout the United States. The annual conference bring these trainees together to showcase their work and to meet their peers. Jeremy is an MD/PhD student working with BMI Professor David Page. His presentation, entitled "Multiplicative-Forest Continuous-Time Disease Prediction from EHRs", described his research in developing new machine-learning methods to induce predictive models from electronic health records. [28 June 2013]

We offer our very enthusiastic congratulations to Assistant Professor Vikas Singh for his receipt of a new NSF CAREER Award. The award is a strong recognition of Vikas' accomplishments as an expert in medical image analysis. His project will develop new computer vision methods for representation and analysis of structural and functional neuroimaging data for identifying weak group level differences in the small sample size regime. Potential applications include early diagnosis of neurological disorders as well as evaluating effects of novel interventional procedures.

We are delighted to introduce Sandeep Saha who has just joined our Department as an Assistant Researcer/biostatistician. He will be working with Menggang Yu, KyungMann Kim and the rest of the UWCCC Biostatistics Shared Resource team. He will also be working with Rick Chappell and researchers in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Sandeep recently completed a MS in Biostatistics from Western Michigan University. Previously he received a B.Sc Hons in Biotechnology from the University of Toronto, and a post-graduate diploma in Clinical Research. His work experience includes work as a clinical research coordinator for industry studies, including investigator driven trials. Sandeep is a wonderful addition to our Biostatistics group and we are thrilled that he is here. [27 March 2013]

Professor KyungMann Kim is President-elect of the Society for Clinical Trials (SCT), effective May 2013. The Society for Clinical Trials "was created in 1978 and is an international professional organization dedicated to the development and dissemination of knowledge about the design, conduct and analysis of government and industry-sponsored clinical trials and related health care research methodologies." We would like to congratulate KyungMann and thank him for his service in this role!
[SCT brochure, SCT Brochure.pdf, 14 March 2013]


Read more Department News items archived here... http://www.biostat.wisc.edu/News/archivenews.htm


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