June update

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

There will be a similar email each month following the faculty meeting. The agenda for the June meeting can be found at http://biostat.mc.vanderbilt.edu/FacMtg3Jun09. If you have suggestions or questions to be answered in future updates, please add your comments here: CommunicateatAllLevels.

Good News

Bill Dupont’s first-author paper, “Protein phosphatase 2A subunit gene haplotypes and proliferative breast disease modify breast cancer risk,” is in press in Cancer.

Ben Saville’s publication, “Testing random effects in the linear mixed model using approximate Bayes factors,” will be published this month in Biometrics.

Tatsuki Koyama is involved in a proteomics grant as co-leader for the administrative/biostatistics core; the project will support 1.3 biostat FTEs if awarded.


Department vision and strategy
Frank shared his conversation with Philip Lavori, Stanford biostatistics professor, about factors important for successful biostatistics departments. Lavori stressed that mentoring and listening are key factors. Frank went on to say that, outside of statistical consultations, collaborators often do not have an opportunity to describe their research plan verbally; consultations provide a great opportunity for the biostatistician to listen carefully and influence research in the design stage.

For true long-term success, Lavori advocated having this influence one person at a time. He also emphasized the importance of accentuating the positive during interactions rather than tearing designs apart. It’s a good idea to help remove the stigma that biostatisticians are sample-size calculators and data monitors. We need to rebrand ourselves away from these stigmas and toward mentoring. We need to listen to investigators and educate them not only on biostatistics but also on study design, and how to conduct and communicate high-quality science in general.

Promotions: Mario Davidson, Thomas Dupont, Nate Mercaldo, Pingsheng Wu
Mario Davidson has been promoted to instructor in biostatistics. Mario’s main emphasis is teaching and mentoring medical students. Thomas has been promoted to computer systems analyst II and Nate to biostatistician III. Pingsheng Wu has been promoted to assistant in biostatistics; Pingsheng’s K award was a major factor in this promotion.

Faculty recruit Josh Sampson accepted an offer with NCI. Recruitment is underway for Caiyan Li, top student at UPenn, who will visit on June 17th and present a seminar.

Non-clinical Credo assessment tool
A draft Credo for basic science and non-clinical departments is being formalized by the School of Medicine in conjunction with Human Resources. Linda has distributed the draft and would appreciate your input.

Teaching policy
The department’s policy for teaching income is that 55% of the payment will be applied to percent effort; this policy is particularly important for faculty who have heavy teaching loads. Frank emphasized the importance of the policy and his expectation that faculty will adhere to it. He pointed out that if teaching effort is under-estimated, we lack proper information for recruitment, and the speed of recruitment for new faculty is impeded. A point was raised that “rainy day” teaching funds have been important in hard budget times, particularly for faculty who support non-biostatistician staff.

Dress recommendation
A strong dress recommendation is posted in the wiki (http://biostat.mc.vanderbilt.edu/PolicyDressRecommendation). The impression we give to collaborators and others outside the department should be a good one. We want to present ourselves as professionals to our physician-scientist colleagues.

Visiting scholars from Japan
Tatsuki provided a brief report on visiting scholars Ikuko and Takashi Funatogawa, who will be provided with administrative support and office space. It was suggested that Ikuko and Takashi provide seminars and perhaps lead a workshop.


Project participation
Linda showed a new report that Cole and WJ have developed in dbconnect. Faculty members will be given access and were requested to share project updates with administrative staff.

Partners in Health campaign
WJ is campaign coordinator for the Partners in Health campaign. Linda commented that level of participation rather than size of gift is important for this campaign, which ends June 30th. Current department participation is around 30%. We would like to have a high percentage of department members participate because this information is used in many high-level meetings around Vanderbilt; it is valuable for our department to be high on the participation list.


Committee to review reports
A committee to review statistical reports is being established. Faculty and staff reports will be reviewed and should be a regular part of work rather than new work. See Robert Greevy’s programming tips for statisticians (http://biostat.mc.vanderbilt.edu/ProgrammingTipsForStatisticians).

Copyright review
The department received a letter about an alleged copyright violation for a document attached in the wiki (the Beck Depression Inventory). Please check that attachments to the wiki are not protected by copyright.


Chang Yu submitted an R01 application (sub to Yale) on June 5th. Cindy Chen’s R21 submission is due June 29th.


Linda requested that reimbursement requests for lunch/dinner include an itemized statement/receipt; detailed documentation will speed up the process for reimbursement.

Best regards,
CQI Communications Team

Frank Harrell, Yu Shyr, Dan Byrne, Linda Stewart, and Lynne Berry
Topic revision: r2 - 16 Jun 2009, LynneBerry

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