Biostats training comes to USF

As the medical world continues to advance, USF is making an effort to ensure it’s students’ abilities advance along with it.

One way is through the Summer Institute for Training in Biostatistics (SIBS) program, which USF and seven other schools around the country were chosen to host, that involves a six-week training program aimed at stimulating undergraduate students’ interest in pursuing a graduate program in biostatistics, said Chris Baaske, program coordinator for the USF branch of SIBS.

According to the SIBS Web site, biostatistics is the fundamental component of biomedical and public health research, integrating mathematical, statistical and biological principles. These scientists collect and analyze data to gather evidence and address questions and hypotheses that arise in daily life.

Baaske said schools were selected based on individually submitted proposals vouching for why they should offer the program. The proposals were ranked by a national panel of experts.

Sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the program will expose students to career opportunities in health-related fields, he said.

“Students in this major learn how to use statistics to answer questions about human health and health services,” Baaske said. “They explore risk factors for disease, the economics of health care and the spread of disease.”

Some of the things biostatisticians have worked on are testing the effectiveness of the swine flu vaccine and examining the correlation between low birth weights and adult mortality and morbidity.

Yilian Zhu, program manager for SIBS at USF, said students accepted into this program will gain hands-on experience in analyzing real data collected in landmark clinical trials and observational studies.

Zhu said students will conduct projects under the supervision of USF faculty members and researchers from local research institutes like the Moffitt Cancer Center and Jaeb Center for Health Research.

In the program, all expenses from tuition, lodging, food and travel are paid for by a grant from the NHLBI. This aims to eliminate any possible financial difficulty that may arise if a student is interested in applying for the course.

“One particular goal is to recruit minority students to encourage them to enter this field,” Zhu said.

USF students can compete with a national pool of applicants for a total of 25 spots. To be eligible, they must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, undergraduates or students beginning graduate studies this fall, and have a strong background and interest in mathematics, sciences or other quantitatively oriented fields of study.

USF began accepting applications in November and will continue until March 15.

For more information on how to apply, visit