Departments & Centers

Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Research, Instructional, and Service Projects

In addition to offering a variety of courses and degree programs, the department is involved in a number of innovative research and service projects including:

IU Nexus Innovations Incubator Research (funded by NIH) Research and data collection is underway at Indiana University as a part of three Nexus Innovations Incubator projects. The IU Center for Interprofessional Health Education and Practice was created to foster an interdisciplinary approach to health care and education and prepare future health care providers to deliver high-quality, team-based care for the benefit of their patients and the communities they serve. Recent health care reform has placed an added emphasis on efficient, effective and accessible care, and Indiana University is well-positioned to be a leader in training students to collaborate across disciplines to provide optimal care to benefit patients and their families. Eight IU schools are involved in the initiative, including: Dentistry, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Medicine, Nursing, Optometry and Social Work, as well as the School of Public Health-Bloomington, and the Fairbanks School of Public Health in Indianapolis.

Diabetes, Diabetes Treatment and Breast Cancer Prognosis (funded by NIH) Type 2 Diabetes and breast cancer are common diseases with tremendous worldwide health impact. This project uses the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a large prospective cohort study, to assess the influence of pre-existing diabetes on prognosis of patients with breast cancer. The project will also examine the influence of the drug metformin on breast cancer prognosis. Metformin is used to treat diabetes but is attracting interest for its potential anticancer effects. We expect the study to advance understanding of whether and how pre-existing diabetes and diabetes treatment influence breast cancer survival. Improving knowledge of the effects of diabetes and diabetes treatment in relation to breast cancer prognosis will inform proper care not only for women who have diabetes and breast cancer, but also for women who have diabetes in general.

Trace Element Levels and Risk of Stroke (funded by NIH) Despite minor geographic shifts, the “Stroke Belt”, a region of highest stroke mortality in the Southeastern US identified a half century ago, still persists today. For decades, it has been demonstrated outside the US that geographic variations in trace elements may play critical roles in the development of cardiovascular diseases. However, the geographic variation of trace element levels in relation to stroke risk remains unclear. The overall objectives of this project are to examine the associations between trace element levels and stroke risk and to investigate whether geographic variation of trace element levels is related to the “Stroke Belt”. This research will help identify at-risk individuals for stroke, thus providing important data identifying whether stroke risk can be reduced by dietary, supplemental, lifestyle or environmental interventions that modify trace element patterns.

Longitudinal Study of Caucasian and African American Colon Cancer Survivors (funded by American Cancer Society) The overall health and well-being of the growing number of cancer survivors increasingly requires attention. Cancer survivors are at elevated risk for recurrence, second cancers, and other forms of co-morbidity (e.g., cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis), and there are racial disparities in colon cancer prognosis and survival. Health behaviors may be associated with colon cancer prognosis and survival; however, little is known about patterns of health behaviors among persons diagnosed with colon cancer, and there is no data on possible racial differences. The purposes of this study are to quantify the extent to which health behaviors (e.g., diet, physical activity, and dietary supplement use) change following a diagnosis of colon cancer and possible racial differences. We will also examine whether colon cancer prognosis may be related to these modifiable health behaviors in both African American and White colon cancer patients.

Genetic Susceptibility of Congenital Heart Defects (funded by NIH) Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the most prevalent and the most severe of all birth defects, occurring in approximately 8 of every 1,000 live births. More than 85% of CHDs are thought to result from complex interactions between genetic variants, epigenetic modifications and maternal environmental exposures. However, the genetic causes of CHDs are largely unknown. The objective of this project is to develop innovative statistical genetic approaches to improve the discovery process of gene-by-gene (GXG) and gene-by-environment (GXE) interactions underlying complex human diseases, such as CHDs. The completion of this project may enhance our understanding of CHD etiology and build a foundation to further investigate the role of newly discovered GXG/GXE interactions in CHD prediction and prevention, and to expand of the proposed statistical genetics approaches to other human disorders, such as cancers and other congenital conditions.

Study Design and Data Analysis Consulting Center The Study Design and Data Analysis Consulting Center (SDDACC) in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics provides a wide range of support and services through collaborative research, including biostatistics and epidemiology consulting to faculty, staff, and students within and outside the School of Public Health. Our mission is to provide our biostatistics and epidemiological expertise to support health-related research. Our team has expertise in a wide range of statistical/epidemiological methods, including study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation.

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