American Statistical Association comments on the NIH grant review process

Recently, the ASA held discussions with senior management and staff at NIH regarding the grant review process. You can read an article here about what the NIH Center for Scientific Review took away from the discussion.

Admitted Student’s Day coming in Spring 2017

We will host students who have been admitted to the Biostatistics PhD program for a visit to UCSD in early Spring.

We look forward to seeing you!

As a reminder, admissions will be accepted September 1, 2016- January 9, 2017, We expect to provide a stipend and tuition to selected students for the duration of their studies.

Please see our flyer and Graduate Program webpages for more information.

We are looking forward to the start of a new academic year and the launch of the UCSD Biostatistics PhD program!

Please join us in welcoming our incoming students at our “Biostatistics Graduate Program Social”! This is a great opportunity to meet incoming students and mingle with other graduate students and faculty in related fields!

What: Biostatistics Graduate Program Social
When: Monday, September 19th @ 3:30pm - 5:30pm
Where: BRF2- 2A Patio; Enter and take the elevator or stairs to level 2A, turn left and make your way towards the outdoor patio.

*Refreshments will be provided.

Please RSVP to Melody Bazyar by Tuesday, September 13th

Call for papers: Special Issue on Composite Endpoints for Alzheimer Trials Steve Edland, PhD, guest editor

Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions is soliciting submissions describing original research on composite outcome measures for clinical trials in Alzheimer disease. Composite outcomes have now been implemented in active clinical trials and have the potential to substantively improve the efficiency of trials. As more trials are targeting early-stage participants, identifying outcomes sensitive to disease-related decline in this population is of special interest.

Submissions must be relevant to understanding the performance of composite outcomes as endpoints for prevention or early-stage Alzheimer clinical trials and to the potential of composites to improve the efficiency of clinical trials. Submissions demonstrating the properties of composites using data from cohort studies and completed clinical trials are welcomed, as are submissions addressing methodological issues. Potential methodologic issues include: how to choose component items or instruments used to construct a composite measure; how to combine the component instruments to form the composite (e.g., optimal weighting); composite performance relative to established endpoints (i.e., single-to-noise, sample size); and considerations for the validation of proposed composite measures.

Announcement and submission guidelines available at

Major Biostatistics Grant Funded

Biostatistics Division Professor Dr. Steven Edland and Co-Principle Investigator Mark Bondi have received notice of award for an NIH R01grant titled Re-Visiting Methods for MCI Diagnosis to Improve Biomarker and Trial Findings.  The five year grant with total direct costs of $2.44M will explore different diagnostic criteria for Mild Cognitive Impairment and characterize the potential improvement in clinical trial performance and cohort study performance when the specificity of diagnostic criteria for prodromal Alzheimer’s disease is improved.

Recruitment Announcment

Associate or Full Professor of Biostatsitics - 2 positions View Flyer

Beginning in Fall of 2016, the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health (FMPH) will offer a doctoral degree in Biostatistics

This new UCSD graduate program is an interdepartmental program housed within the Department of FMPH, in the School of Medicine. The program is distinguished by its high mathematical content and rigorous technical training in theory and methods, as well as, training in computation and data analysis and practical collaborative skills. Our program aims to train the next generation of biostatisticians in the mathematical theory, computational skills, and inferential methods needed to analyze complex biomedical data. More information can be found at:

We encourage applications from highly motivated individuals with a strong mathematical background and deep interest in analytic problems in biology, medicine and/or public health. Applications will be accepted October 1, 2015- January 6, 2016. Please apply at:

Ribbon worthy UCSD Public Health Day posters

Congratulations to students Anant Singhania and Selene Xu, and to faculty mentor Professor Loki Natarajan, for their award winning posters at the UCSD Public Health Day.

Abant’s poster placing third in the undergraduate student category:
Singhania A., Bellettiere J., Godbole S., Kerr J., Natarajan L. (2015).
Patterns of Sedentary Time, Depression, and Physical Functioning: Is the way in which Sedentary Time is Accumulated Associated with Indicators of Healthy Aging in Older Adults?

Selene’s poster placing third in the graduate student category:

Xu S., Kerr J., Patterson R., Abramson I., Natarajan L. (2015) Statistical Approached to Account for Missing Values in Accelerometry Data.

Distinguished Clinical Research Achievement Award

Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Professor Chuck Berry shared the 2015 Distinguished Clinical Research Achievement Award from the Clinical Research Forum ( with the other authors of the New England Journal of Medicine publication “A Modified γ-Retrovirus Vector for X-Linked Severe Combined Immunodeficiency” (NEJM 2014;371:1407-17).  The team was cited for "Delivering Safer Gene Therapy"; `scan statistics' that Chuck developed for comparing gene therapy vectors played a key role in differentiating the new gene therapy vector from an older vector that caused serious adverse events.  This work is a model of the multidisciplinary teamwork and international collaboration required to perform translational research in the challenging realm of a rare disorder.  Congratulations Chuck and thank you for this fine work.

Spring Announcements

Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics faculty promotions for 2015 have been confirmed.  Dr. Michael Donohue has been promoted to Associate Professor;  Dr. Steven Edland has been promoted to Professor Step III; Dr. Florin Viada has been appointed to Professor in Residence with 0.5 FTE.  Congratulations all around.

Statistical Methods Grant Funded

Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Professor Steven Edland has received an NIH grant to advance the design and performance of clinical trials in Alzheimer’s disease.  Titled Optimizing Outcome Measures for Clinical Trials in Prodromal Alzheimer's Disease, the grant will develop and demonstrate algorithms for scoring clinical trial outcome measures to optimize their ability to detect disease progression and treatment effects.  The grant will be performed in collaboration with Dr. Colin Ard at the UCSD Department of Neurosciences.

WNAR 2015 Conference Deadlines Approaching

Division of Biostatics and Bioinformatics Professor Ronghui (Lily) Xu is IMS Program Chair for the annual meeting of the Western North American Region of the International Biometric Society. The meeting will be held in Boise, Idaho June 14 – 17. Submissions covering a wide range of topics in the theory and application of statistics to health, biological and life sciences are encouraged. Invite session proposals are due by February 28, 2015; abstracts for contributed talks are due by April 24, 2015.

Progress Toward Approval of a UCSD Ph.D. Program in Biostatistics

On November 19th, of 2014 the UC San Diego Representative Assembly of the Academic Senate formally approved plans for a UCSD Ph.D. Program in Biostatistics. As planned, the Ph.D. program will be housed within the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine’s Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics at the School of Medicine and is joint with the main campus Department of Mathematics. The core courses are Biostatistics offerings from the Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, and Statistics offerings from the Department of Mathematics. Additional electives from the life sciences and public health ensure professional breadth, and six semesters of Biostatistics Practicum are intended to prepare for the workplace and aid in selection of a thesis advisor and dissertation topic. First enrollment is planned for Autumn Semester of 2015 pending formal approval of the Program at the UC Office of the President.

Kudos to Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Assistant Professor Michael Donohue,

Michael Donohue has just been awarded a foundation grant jointly administer by the Alzheimer’s Association, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and the Weston Brain Institute. The grant will develop and implement better statistical methods to accurately determine trajectories of neurobiology and pathology across the lifespan, with applications to improving assessment of risk for adverse outcomes like Alzheimer’s disease, and to improving and informing the design of future cohort studies and clinical trial.

Ronghui (Lily) Xu honored by the American Statistical Association

The Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Division is proud to announce that Professor Ronghui (Lily) Xu has been recognized as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA). The ASA, the preeminent professional statistical society, recognizes a small number of Fellows each year for their outstanding professional contributions to statistical science and their leadership in the field. Professor Xu’s award recognizes her significant contributions in developing mixed-effects models for correlated survival data, innovative statistical collaboration in cancer clinical trials and medical research, and dedicated service for professional societies and education activities in biostatistics. Professor Xu, a past recipient of the American Statistical Association Byar Young Investigator Award, has been a member of the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics faculty at UCSD since 2004. Read more...

Dr. Loki Natarajan gives inaugural lectures

Dr. Natarajan gave the inaugural Henry Seeley White lectures at Vassar College November 7, 2013. This endowed lecture series honors one of the influential mathematicians at Vassar who chaired the Department in 1904.

Read more

Dr. Karen Messer Appointed Division Chief

After a successful national search, Dr. Karen Messer has been appointed as Chief of the Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics.

Dr. Messer received her PhD in mathematics with a specialization in mathematical statistics at UCSD, and went on to faculty positions in statistics within mathematics departments at UCLA and CSU Fullerton. Her early work investigated the mathematical theory of nonparametric function estimates. Her applied work was influential in endangered species regulation at the Federal and state level, and she consulted widely in legal settings and data mining applications. Since joining the Department in 2005, her biostatistics research interests have included the epidemiology of tobacco control, prognostic modeling in cancer, early phase trial design, and development of statistical methods for high dimensional data. Dr. Messer is currently Director of the Biostatistics / Bioinformatics Shared Resource of the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, which in recent years has enjoyed steady growth in personnel, service provided, grants funded, and scholarly publication. She has served on NIH study sections, is director of several data cores for multi-project grants, and serves in national leadership positions within the American Statistical Association. In her personal life, Dr. Messer enjoys riding bikes with her husband, and serves on the board of directors of several environmental organizations.

As Chief, Dr. Messer is expected to support Division faculty in the development of new initiatives which will raise the profile of the Division across UCSD Health Sciences and nationally. These include development of data management cores and biostatistics units for large programs; development of increased collaborative support for investigators across the Department and the Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy; and growth of academic Biostatistics initiatives including a graduate program and methodological research initiatives in biostatistics and bioinformatics.