The increasing availability of ?big data? has transformed the training required to advance our understanding of the pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease (CVD), the identification of patient-level and public health approaches to prevent its occurrence and aspects of quality of care for patients with CVD and its risk factors. The goal of the proposed pre-doctoral National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute T32 CVD training grant is to engage and empower biostatistics and epidemiology students with a strong foundation in both disciplines so they will be positioned to lead the design, conduct and analysis of the big data that are being collected in the 21st century. Located in the Southeastern US, an area with the highest heart disease death rates, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has been at the forefront of CVD biostatistics and epidemiology research for over 25 years. The Departments of Biostatistics and Epidemiology are internationally recognized for leading randomized trial coordinating centers, serving as the coordinating center and field sites for epidemiology studies, conducting analyses of health insurance claims and electronic medical record data, and developing new methods for statistical genetics/genomics. For this T32 program, we are requesting funding for a total of 12 pre-doctoral trainees over the course of 5 years including 2 new trainees in each of years 1 through 3 and 3 new trainees in each of years 4 and 5. Trainees enrolled in the T32 program will receive a strong foundation in the pathophysiology and epidemiology of CVD, skills to design and conduct observational research, training on rigor and reproducibility in CVD research, familiarity with how real-world data are collected and analyzed, experience conducting big data analytics including omics data, grant writing experience, and networking opportunities within UAB and the larger scientific community of CVD researchers. Pre-doctoral trainees will complete activities that provide added value to their doctoral programs in biostatistics and epidemiology including didactic cross-training courses, a grant writing class and workshop, research immersions in three areas of big data, professional development workshops, and CVD seminars and a journal club. We have designed three workshops for this T32 grant including an 8-week summer training program on CVD, a high performance computing boot camp and a workshop on team science and communication. The training program?s capstone experience is a mentored research project resulting in a peer-reviewed manuscript. The program will be led by Drs. Hemant Tiwari and Paul Muntner, full professors in Biostatistics and Epidemiology, respectively, with strong mentoring records and program development experience. We have received the commitment from 14 primary mentors and 11 secondary mentors from the Departments of Biostatistics and Epidemiology. An additional 21 faculty members from across UAB have committed to serve as content mentors. The proposed pre-doctoral T32 Training Program will produce a cadre of biostatisticians and epidemiologists prepared to lead CVD research studies that address the priorities of NHLBI.
There is a shortage of researchers trained in both biostatistics and epidemiology with expertise in cardiovascular disease. The objective of the proposed program is to provide cross-training to biostatisticians and epidemiologists, who can become future leaders in cardiovascular disease research investigation.