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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Research Areas

Biostatistics Branch

Investigators in the Biostatistics Branch (BB) apply advanced statistical methods and data resources for many types of studies, including: 

Descriptive Epidemiology Studies

Descriptive epidemiology studies characterize cancer incidence and mortality temporal trends, age-specific rates, geographic distribution of cancer, race and ethnic differences in cancer rates, and birth cohort effects. BB investigators utilize novel analytic tools to obtain etiologic clues from descriptive studies, for example:

  • Identification of novel data sources through national and international collaboration
    • ACS, IARC, Danish breast cancer group
  • Integration of novel analytic tools to obtain etiologic clues from descriptive studies
    • Modeling age-period-cohort effects and etiologic heterogeneity
  • Performing record linkage studies, using SEER and other population-based databases
    • SEER-AIDS and SEER-Transplant studies, NHANES-NDI

Analytic Studies

Increased participation in domestic and international consortia has yielded large-scale datasets and biospecimens, supporting various types of analytic studies:

  • Cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional designs
  • Genome-wide association studies and next-generation sequencing
    • Development and use of novel statistical and bioinformatic tools to perform value-added analysis of existing GWAS datasets
  • Assessment of emerging technologies and defining methods for integrating them into etiologic studies
    • NGS, microbiota, metabolomics etc.

Collaboration Across Major DCEG Studies

BB investigators collaborate in major studies across DCEG, providing statistical and analytical leadership.  Selected studies include:

  • Agricultural Health Study
  • Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer (PLCO) screening trial
  • AARP Cohort
  • Radiologic Technologist Cohort
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Natural History Study and Vaccine Trial
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma Case-Control Study
  • New England Bladder Case-Control Study
  • Testicular Cancer Case-control Study
  • Fanconi Anemia

Translational Research

BB investigators strive to apply what is learned from research discoveries and findings to practical applications in support of public health.  Examples of these efforts include:

  • Development and validation of models for minority populations
  • Refinement of screening guideline based on HPV testing
  • Evaluation of potential utility of genetic and other biomarkers
  • Development and validation of cancer risk models
  • Evaluation of specific public health applications
    • Risk-benefit calculations for the use of Tamoxifen

Methodological Research

BB investigators lead methodological research in a wide range of areas including genomic analysis, survival analysis, longitudinal data analysis, risk prediction, sampling, and screening. In genomics, particular areas of emphasis are in somatic mutation analysis and methodology for integrative tumor epidemiologic analyses.