As part of our effort to continuously improve communication within the department, we are posting this update.

There will be a similar posting each month following the faculty meeting. The agenda for the February meeting can be found at

Good News!

Irene Feurer worked with Chuck Matthews on a recent R01, and the score was a very successful 2.2.

Bryan Shepherd was lead author on the article “Does Finasteride Affect the Severity of Prostate Cancer? A Causal Sensitivity Analysis,” published in the December issue of JASA.

The second edition of Bill Dupont’s book has been published. The success of PS (Power Size and Sample Size Calculation) software was noted, and it was mentioned that Yuwei's review of the beta-test version was incredibly helpful. This tool is included on the CTSA/StarBRITE web page ( and in the department's TWiki.

With GlaxoSmithKline, Frank and Svetlana have completed a five-year multi-national study of the use of dustasteride for prostate cancer prevention and presented the last Data Safety and Monitoring Board (DSMB) report recently. Results will be rolled out at the American Urological Association Annual Scientific Meeting in April.

Vanderbilt has been named one of Fortune Magazine’s 100 Great Places to Work! This is a great accomplishment for Vanderbilt and took years of effort. In the past, competitors (typically industry) for this prestigious ranking could offer numerous perks.

Vanderbilt is highly dependent on grants, and researchers here have been extraordinarily successful in obtaining NIH funding. A congressional motion to add $6 billion to the NIH budget is under consideration and, if passed, will be excellent for Vanderbilt.


Lynn Webb, assistance vice chancellor, has approved filling staff biostatistician positions with funding pre-arranged prior to employment.

Jing He and Sandeep Parvathapuram, computer systems analysts, joined the department on January 1 and 21, respectively. Jing is working with Chun Li on his R01 (Developing Statistical Methods for Disease Gene Discovery) and on three projects with Wei Zheng under Chun's direction. Sandeep is working with Robert supporting VA health services research, and Marie Griffin is providing support for Sandeep's position.

Seminars: Please refer local speakers to Ben Saville. We need to be selective about out-of-town invited speakers due to current budgetary constraints. Jim Steiger, Vanderbilt Quantitative Psychology professor, was recommended as a potential speaker; also, Jeremy Cohen, who has written a new textbook on R.

The department potluck will be held on Monday, February 9th, in the 8th floor conference room of PRB; please sign up.


A couple of collaborations are not fully utilizing biostatistical support, primarily due to lack of work in their respective areas and partly due to their involvement in basic vs. clinical research. It is critical that all employees manage percent effort on grants and collaborations effectively.

During the department's internal audit, several faculty and staff have participated in effort reviews (thank you!). The auditors have agreed to contact Linda on a regular basis regarding issues; so far, the questions have been routine.

Teaching activities: Ben is teaching in the Biomedical Engineering program from January until May. This month, Ayumi is teaching Biostatistics II in the MSCI program and Bill is teaching Biostatistics II in the MPH program. Frank and Chris are teaching an introductory biostatistics course in the Clinical Pharmacology program and also in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program. Frank is also teaching a one-week Regression Modeling Strategies course this week. Frank commented that Eve has done an excellent job with course management.

Regarding course work, Frank commented that he hopes we can continue to develop and refine the central Subversion repository of course materials (notes organized by modules, LaTeX files, tests, etc.).


How can we help Vanderbilt win the Baldridge Award? This topic, added by Dan Byrne, who is out-of-town, will be included in next month's agenda.


Jeffrey Blume's Transformative R01 was successfully submitted, and it was commented that Donna's assistance was invaluable.

Pingsheng Wu submitted a K12 application on February 2.

Graduate program: Jeffrey commented that the graduate program will begin in the fall of 2009 with Introduction to Biostatistics and Regression courses. Teachers are needed!


Expense reductions are underway as announced in an e-mail from Linda earlier this week. In addition to those cost containment measures, voice mail will be removed from most phones.

It was requested that faculty provide copies of evaluation forms for Design Studios to WJ. New centers have been created for faculty for this purpose, as well as for consulting and other dollars. Recharge (3-04 centers) should not be used for this purpose. It was noted that any faculty member who is not 100% federally funded and who is not funded by VICTR-CTSA can receive vouchers for studio work.

Formula for grants: The department’s formula for IT support and professional meeting expenses is currently on hold pending further review by John Manning and the Department of Finance. Frank has gathered data from several schools (UPenn, Johns Hopkins, etc.) who have charged a similar fee for a number of years with no questions from the NIH. Further information will be forthcoming following a meeting with SOM leadership.

The research reward program credit ($32K) was provided to the department in December and will be distributed to faculty based on previously-agreed criteria. The funds are primarily to be used for necessities (salaries for assistants, programmers, etc.). Requests for items such as a printer for home will not be approved.

In closing, Frank commented that we're very fortunate to be at Vanderbilt, and we need to continue to work together successfully to make these stressful times less so.
Topic revision: r2 - 05 Feb 2009, LynneBerry

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