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Faculty Research

Our Groundbreaking Research

Department of Biostatistics faculty members develop new statistical methodologies and provide leadership in public health and biomedical research efforts that have a major impact on the prevention and treatment of disease. Examples of our work include:
  • designing and conducting randomized controlled trials and observational studies in areas such as cancer, otolaryngology, psychiatry, radiology, and statistical genetics;
  • assessing occupational health and environmental risk; and
  • developing statistical methodology.
The following are examples of biostatistics faculty research in these areas.

Randomized Controlled Trials

Since 1975, our faculty members have directed the Biostatistical Center and provided biostatistical expertise for the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP). NSABP is an internationally recognized, multidisciplinary, clinical trial research organization. Since 1971, NSABP has enrolled more than 100,000 participants in approximately 50 large-scale, community-based randomized clinical trials that are designed to assess treatments for breast and colorectal cancers. The Biostatistical Center is the statistical and data management coordinating center for all NSABP treatment trials and is responsible for the statistical aspects of protocol design and implementation, centralized randomization, data collection, management of patient treatment and follow-up information, and analysis of study results.

An example of an NSABP trial is the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial, a randomized double-blinded trial of 13,000 women at increased risk of breast cancer. The primary aim of this trial was to test the worth of the oral drug tamoxifen as a preventive for breast cancer. The trial demonstrated that tamoxifen resulted in a 50 percent reduction in breast cancer incidence.

Occupational Health and Environmental Risk Assessment

Department faculty have conducted follow-up observational studies of disease risk among workers exposed to potentially toxic substances, evaluating the health of more than 250,000 workers in a wide variety of industries including steel, coal mining, automobile manufacturing, chemical, fiberglass, nickel, and pharmaceutical. The methodologic approaches developed in these studies have served as models for national and international investigations involving large-scale occupational cohorts.

Biostatistics faculty members have also contributed to environmental risk assessment, emphasizing the use of statistical models to quantify cancer risks and the development of methodologies to set environmental standards. Statistical models developed by faculty members within the department include improved models for carcinogenesis, models to estimate reproductive risk, and models to predict carcinogenicity of chemicals.

Statistical Methodology

In addition to collaborative research, the department is active in the development of new statistical methodology. Areas of methodological research in biostatistics include clinical trials design, comparative effectiveness research, exploratory data analysis, inter-rater reliability, missing data analysis, receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, sampling, sequential methods, statistical genetics, stochastic modeling, and survival analysis.

Learn more about the faculty members involved in these research areas.
© 2017 by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

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