Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design (EBRD)

Biostatistics faculty and staff advise and collaborate with ACTRI researchers on biostatistics, bioinformatics and epidemiology. In addition to common statistical tools, faculty and staff have expertise in areas such as reproducible research reports, R Bioconductor, and high-performance computing.

The BERD unit is supported by five full-time and part-time statisticians. We have experience in a wide range of research settings, with areas of interest that include clinical trials, longitudinal data, survival analysis, observational studies and high-dimensional data.

The BERD unit provides statistical support in all phases of research. We encourage researchers to collaborate with biostatisticians from the earliest stages. Areas of support include:

Study design and proposal writing

  • Specify and refine research hypotheses.
  • Choose specific objectives, primary and secondary outcomes and appropriate statistical methods.
  • Literature review on relevant statistical methods.
  • Creation of random assignments.
  • Perform sample size and power calculations.
  • Writing statistical analysis plans for grants and IRB submissions.
  • Respond to reviewer comments.
  • Consultation on appropriate data entry, such as definition of data elements, format and structure of variables, and handling of missing data.

Statistical analyzes

  • Review datasets for quality and completeness.
  • Statistical software support, especially for R and SAS.
  • Adjustment of statistical models; scientific calculation.
  • Interpretation, visualization and synthesis of results.

Publishing and Communication

  • Generation of internal statistical reports.
  • Writing and preparing abstracts and manuscripts for publication.
  • Produce daily quality charts and graphs.
  • Respond to review referees.

All requests should be submitted using the “Request EBRD Services” link above. Investigators must become members of ACTRI before submitting applications. Up to four hours of support is available to ACTRI members for grant preparation with no recharge. After 4 hours, you will be charged at the regular hourly rate. All researchers receiving EBRD support during grant preparation are required to include EBRD costs in their grant proposal budgets (a practice that typically strengthens applications).

Time limit

Since we typically work on multiple projects at once, advanced notice is strongly encouraged.

  • For grant applications that do not involve preliminary data analysis, at least one month’s notice is required.
  • For grant applications involving preliminary data analysis as well as for abstract submissions, at least two months notice is required. It is ACTRI’s policy that a statistical analysis plan be formally approved by our co-investigators before the analysis is performed.

Consultation without appointment

(Currently suspended due to campus restrictions on site. Request services using the link above)

Co-author

Co-author considerations should be based on intellectual and research contributions, which include design, analysis, and interpretation, regardless of compensation. For more information on authorship guidelines, see Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.

FAQs

Who can benefit from support?
Membership in ACTRI is required to receive assistance. Please visit the membership page and apply for membership before requesting assistance. Investigators whose membership is pending can request assistance.

What happens after I submit my support request? How long will it take to receive a response?
Your request will be reviewed and an initial response will be provided within two business days of receipt by our EBRD unit. In the (likely) case that we have a project queue, the length of the queue usually depends on recent and current requests; the waiting time can range from a few days to several weeks. You will be informed of the specific queuing situation (if any) in our first response. When your project tops the list, you will be contacted to arrange a face-to-face meeting. We recommend that you apply as early as possible to ensure your deadlines are met (see Deadlines section above).

What will happen during the first meeting?
The first meeting usually involves a supervising statistician, as well as one or more staff statisticians assigned to the project, and lasts no more than an hour. During the meeting, the context and objectives of the research are discussed, and the objectives of the project are defined. Specific work items to be produced by the statistician are established (eg a power calculation or a statistical analysis plan), including a delivery schedule.

How will the project unfold?
After the first meeting, the statistician will work towards the execution of the planned objectives. Most projects will include a report detailing the results. For small projects, an analysis plan or an analysis report can be sent to the investigator after the meeting; larger projects may involve several meetings or other communications when the interviewer and statistician work together.

My deadline is this Friday, what should I do?
We are often engaged in several projects and are generally unable to accommodate last minute requests. As a last resort, you can consider weekly consultations without an appointment; see above for details.

Resources

Lin Liu, Ph.D.
ACTRI EBRD Director

Dr. Liu has served as Director of the Core of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design (BERD) at ACTRI since 2021. She is an Associate Professor of Biostatistics in the Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics at UCSD Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science. She has extensive experience in the design and analysis of observational studies and complex clinical trials. She has expertise in the design and validation of large-scale studies using electronic health records (EHRs) and in the development of predictive models for cancer risk classification. As an active collaborative biostatistician, she has published peer-reviewed articles in the areas of HIV, cancer, gastroenterology, stroke, hypertension, infectious disease epidemiology, sleep apnea, chronic pain, psychiatric disorders including PTSD, telemedicine and others. She is a key faculty statistician at UCSD Moores Cancer Center, specializing in colorectal and prostate cancer research. Dr. Liu has experience training junior biostatisticians and early-career physician-scientists through her role as Chief Statistician for VA San Diego Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D). She is also the director of the master’s program in biostatistics, mentoring undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Dr. Liu oversees the post-award data analysis department and provides support to EBRD liaisons in pre-award grant submissions.

Xin Tu, PhD

Xin Tu, PhD
Professor of Biostatistics

Dr. You is professor of biostatistics and liaison officer for the BERD core at ACTRI. He has been with the EBRD for five years and focuses on biostatistical support primarily for pre-award grant applications. With over 30 years of experience and over 290 publications in peer-reviewed journals, he has made significant and important contributions to the fields of statistical methodological research and its applications to a wide range of biomedical and psychosocial research.

Xinlian Zhang

Xinlian Zhang
Assistant Professor of Statistics

Dr. Zhang is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics at UC San Diego and has been liaising with ACTRI’s BERD Core since 2019. Dr. Zhang specializes in statistical approaches to large and complex data such as large-scale, flexible optimization problems and fast semi- and non-parametric methods for complex and correlated data, Bayesian spline smoothing and longitudinal data analysis problems in statistics. Dr. Zhang also has extensive experience in the analysis and exploration of large-scale genomic and epigenomic data, with a specialty on RNA-seq, and ChIP-seq, metagenomic seq and scRNA-seq.

Euyhyun Lee, MS

Euyhyun Lee, MS
Statistician

Euyhyun graduated from San Diego State University with a Master of Science in Statistics with a concentration in Biostatistics. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of California, San Diego. Euyhyun joined the ACTRI Biostatistics team in April 2017 and collaborated with biomedical researchers on data analysis.