CCEB's Clinical Research Services: Biostatistics Education ProgramDECEMBER 19, 2008
The CCEB serves as an interdisciplinary resource for clinical research throughout the School of Medicine and offers a range of services, primarily to faculty, residents, fellows, and research staff within the University of Pennsylvania Health System, but also to clinicians and scientists throughout the Delaware Valley with interests in such services. These services are identified and described as a regular feature of this newsletter.
The CCEB offers an array of research training programs designed for medical students, residents, fellows, graduate students, research staff, and faculty. These programs include MS and PhD degree programs in biostatistics, a Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology degree program, a PhD degree program in epidemiology, and a clinical research certificate program for those interested in careers in collaborative and research support roles. This article describes the MS and PhD degree programs in biostatistics.
The MS and PhD degree programs in biostatistics, developed and conducted in collaboration with the Statistics Department in the Wharton School, are designed for those interested in biostatistical theory and methods, especially as applied to problems in biomedical sciences. The MS program is intended for those who seek careers as statistical practitioners, whereas the PhD program is intended for those who seek careers as independent statistical scientists. As one of the few biostatistics programs housed within a school of medicine, training is highly practical and emphasizes the integral role of statistical thinking in medical science.
The MS degree requires two years of full-time study, including the successful completion of a written examination and the preparation of a master's thesis. Required courses include probability; mathematical statistics; and statistical methods including categorical data analysis, linear models, multivariate methods, survival analysis, and applied data analysis. The MS program may also be completed on a part-time basis.
The PhD program includes the courses required for the MS degree program plus at least one additional semester of advanced courses, two courses outside of statistics (the minor sequence), and several units of independent study. PhD students must also pass written and oral examinations and complete a doctoral dissertation. Well-prepared college graduates can typically complete the program in four to five years of full-time study. Part-time students are also welcome.
All biostatistics degree students participate in a two-semester consulting experience. In the first semester (known as Consulting I), students attend a weekly seminar where potential scientific collaborators present their design and analysis problems. In the second semester (Consulting II), each student selects a project and, under the supervision of a faculty mentor, identifies the key statistical issues, researches potential statistical approaches, acquires and analyzes the relevant data, prepares a written report, and presents the project to the faculty in a short seminar. This project typically constitutes the master's thesis for students seeking an MS degree. School of Medicine faculty interested in receiving biostatistical advice provided by an advanced biostatistics student through this consulting mechanism, with guidance provided by a member of the biostatistics faculty, should contact Jonas Ellenberg, PhD, Professor of Biostatistics (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The CCEB supports doctoral students in biostatistics primarily through research assistantships funded by training and research grants and fellowships from the NIH and private industry. Graduate student research assistants are available to work on the projects that provide their support part time during the academic year (approximately 12 hours per week) and full time during the summer months. Typically, the student works under the joint supervision of the project's PI and its senior faculty biostatistician. School of Medicine faculty serving as PIs of research grants requiring biostatistical support who are interested in employing biostatistics students should contact Daniel F. Heitjan, PhD, Director of Educational Programs in Biostatistics (email@example.com).
Students graduating from the biostatistics program gain entry into a vibrant local and national job market. The strong theoretical and practical training that Penn provides prepares students to follow a range of attractive career paths including positions in private industry, academia, and government.