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Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health

Biostatistics Core (OAIC Resource Core 1)
Supported Projects
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Key Personnel

Biostatistics Core Key Accomplishments and Supported Projects

During the most recent grant cycle (2008-2013), the Biostatistics Core (RC-1) has:

1)    Advanced research on frailty at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions by (a) providing first-rate statistical reasoning and database resources to every OAIC-affiliated research project conducted, and others, and (b) developing data analytic methodologies needed to advance discovery on frailty. Specifically, the Biostatistics Core assisted 55 researchers in 89 projects on frailty (30 RCDC, Pilot, and DPs) yielding 51 papers published, 9 grant proposals, and 5 career awards and 1 Brookdale fellowship funded. The core has also conducted development projects (DP) to: (a) develop an integrative biology framework for the study of frailty by stimulus-response experiments (Varadhan & Seplaki; 2 publications, 1 awarded poster), (b) refine frailty phenotype and physiotype (Bandeen-Roche; 2 publications), (c) develop statistical methods for analyzing high-dimensional RNA sequencing data on molecular processes underlying frailty and aging (Leek; publication, reference database of RNA-sequencing samples created), and (d) literature review to assess the feasibility of network modeling to delineate the systems biology underlying frailty. Taken together, this core’s collaboration in OAIC research and DPs have laid crucial groundwork to test etiologies underlying multisystem dysregulation and develop interventions targeting these.

2)    Provided resources in data infrastructure and emerging computing technologies essential to discovery on frailty. The Biostatistics Core successfully supported 11 trials and projects with deliverables including: 

  • Web-based systems for: (i) study tracking; (ii) data collection, computing, and result reporting; (iii) frailty assessment; (iv) research interest-expertise “matchmaking” to aid new collaborations; (v) grants management;
  • Hardware and protocols for the electronic patient registry developed by the Clinical Translation Unit to facilitate the recruitment and enrollment of older, frail, and pre-frail study subjects in clinical trials;
  • Online data archives for the Women’s Health and Aging Studies (WHAS) and Experience Corps Baltimore Trial, both now ending. These sustain invaluable data infrastructure for future research;
  • An online consulting tool to submit statistical questions and request / schedule in-person meetings.

3)    Mentored junior investigators supported by this OAIC: Dr. Bandeen-Roche and Dr. Xue have collaborated substantially with each of the 7 RCDC awardees in the past five-year cycle. They are proud to have contributed through advice, analytic support, and feedback to grant preparation in the mentorship of its 4 junior faculty (Drs. Abadir, Lin, Seplaki, Wang) toward the receipt of career development awards. In addition, in 2010 the Core helped initiate the monthly “Pepper Scholars” research-in-progress sessions instituted to elevate the training and mentorship experience for OAIC-supported junior faculty. This core has also provided 5 methods symposia and 26 invited talks at local and national seminars/conferences.

4)    Heightened the visibility of our center’s research, through (a) participation on the Leadership Council of the LAC, (b)  redesign of the OAIC website, (c) integration in research and training initiatives involving other OAICs, and (d) provision of expertise to the broader OAIC and gerontological community. Regarding (c), in 2010 the Biostatistics Core initiated a joint methods symposium series between our group and our fellow OAIC at the University of Maryland (UMAB). The core has jointly offered sessions focused on clinical and comparative effectiveness research, longitudinal analysis, and survival analysis. The sessions have averaged attendance of 100 spanning both OAICs. Dr. Xue and Dr. Allore from Yale OAIC gave a talk on missing data at the 2012 OAIC annual conference in Bethesda and served as reviewers for the Junior Faculty Mock Study Section. Dr. Xue was elected as the 2011-2012 co-convener of the Measurement, Statistics, and Research Design (MSRD) interest group of the GSA.

5)    Provided critical resources for the translation of frailty research into clinical interventions and practice by all means detailed above. Of particular relevance for translation were the core’s contributions to the design of the successfully funded CAPABLE trial (now to be an OAIC externally supported project), the OAIC Vitamin D pilot trial, trials planned in the RCDC and PESC; and the online frailty assessment tool and patient registry.

In all, this Core has been central in the laying of groundwork, by this OAIC, for next generation research to delineate the multi-system etiology of frailty, and develop and evaluate interventions specifically targeting such. 

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