Biostatistics—the application of statistics to understanding health and biology—provides powerful tools for developing research questions, designing studies, refining measurements, analyzing data, and interpreting findings. Biostatistics plays an important role in health-related research, yet biostatistics resources are often fragmented, ad hoc, or oversubscribed within academic health centers (AHCs). Given the increasing complexity and quantity of health-related data, the emphasis on accelerating clinical and translational science, and the importance of conducting reproducible research, the need for the thoughtful development of biostatistics resources within AHCs is growing.
In this article, the authors identify strategies for developing biostatistics resources in three areas: (1) recruiting and retaining biostatisticians, (2) efficiently using biostatistics resources, and (3) improving biostatistical contributions to science. AHCs should consider these three domains in building strong biostatistics resources, which they can leverage to support a broad spectrum of research. For each of the three domains, the authors describe the advantages and disadvantages of AHCs creating centralized biostatistics units rather than dispersing such resources across clinical departments or other research units. They also address the challenges that biostatisticians face in contributing to research without sacrificing their individual professional growth or the trajectory of their research teams. The authors ultimately recommend that AHCs create centralized biostatistics units because this approach offers distinct advantages both to investigators who collaborate with biostatisticians as well as to the biostatisticians themselves, and it is better suited to accomplish the research and education missions of AHCs.
Dr. Welty is assistant professor, Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.
Dr. Carter is associate professor and section head of clinical sciences, Department of Health Sciences Research, and director, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design Resource, Mayo Clinic Center for Translational Science Awards, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.
Dr. Finkelstein is professor of medicine (biostatistics), Harvard Medical School, and Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, and chief of the biostatistics unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
Dr. Harrell is professor and chair, Department of Biostatistics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and director, Design Biostatistics and Research Ethics Program, Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, Nashville, Tennessee.
Dr. Lindsell is professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, and codirector, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design, Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Dr. Macaluso is professor and director, Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and codirector, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design, Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Dr. Mazumdar is professor and chief, Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Department of Public Health, and director, Research Design and Biostatistics Core, Clinical and Translational Sciences Center, Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York.
Dr. Nietert is professor, Department of Public Health Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, and director, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design Program, South Carolina Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, Charleston, South Carolina.
Dr. Oster is associate professor, Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, and codirector, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design Program, Center for Clinical and Translational Science, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, Birmingham, Alabama.
Dr. Pollock is professor and chair, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and director, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design Core, Institute for the Integration of Medicine and Science, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Medicine, San Antonio, Texas.
Dr. Roberson is professor and chair, Department of Biostatistics, and director, Biostatistics and Research Design Component of the Translational Research Institute, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine, Little Rock, Arkansas.
Dr. Ware is Frederick Mosteller Professor, Department of Biostatistics, and associate dean for clinical and translational science, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Welty, Department of Preventive Medicine, Suite 1400, 680 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60611; telephone: (312) 503-4710; fax: (312) 908-9588; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.