The Division of Clinical and Translational Sciences (DCTS) within the Department of Internal Medicine (IM) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) serves as the primary academic home for faculty in the Biostatistics/Epidemiology/Research Design (BERD), a core component of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS). CCTS was established in 2006 by one of the first 12 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical and Translational Awards (CTSA), which were designed to transform clinical research at academic institutions.

Director

Faculty

About Clinical and Translational Services

The Division of Clinical and Translational Sciences (DCTS) within the Department of Internal Medicine (IM) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) serves as the primary academic home for faculty in the Biostatistics/Epidemiology/Research Design (BERD), a core component of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS). CCTS was established in 2006 by one of the first 12 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical and Translational Awards (CTSA), which were designed to transform clinical research at academic institutions. The vision of the CTSA program within NIH’s newly created National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) is to develop the organizational infrastructure to link academic and community health centers across local, regional and national collaborative networks and increase the efficiency, quality, and impact of clinical and translational research on patient-centered outcomes and population health. Several years in the making and the first division of its kind at UTHealth, the DCTS was established and will evolve progressively forward to help promote that vision. Through NCATS a number of other Health Science Centers across the Country have created academic homes like DCTS.

Located in the Department of Internal Medicine at UTHealth, in the heart of the vast Texas Medical Center and in partnership with Memorial Hermann Hospital and MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC), we believe our DCTS is uniquely positioned to help catalyze NCATS’ vision into reality. While the Institute of Molecular Medicine at UTHealth focuses on dissecting disease at its genetic, cellular and molecular levels, our new DCTS at UTHealth seeks the panoramic view, encompassing entire patient populations, biosample repositories and networks of investigators. From this broad patient-centered perspective, our DCTS applies cutting-edge theory and technology to determine the most appropriate, ethical and cost-effective study design, data quality assurance and analysis strategies and the sample sizes needed to answer important clinical and translational research questions conclusively.

Dr. Mohammad Hossein Rahbar, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, has served as the Director of CCTS-BERD since February 1, 2008 and was appointed as the founding Director of DCTS in 2012. DCTS currently employs 14 faculty/staff (5 faculty, 8 research staff and 1 administrative specialist). DCTS intends to expand its faculty expertise and enhance collaboration by facilitating cross-appointments for faculty in relevant disciplines. DCTS faculty members are committed to mentor and train current and future clinical and translational investigators in collaborative Team Science. In addition, DCTS faculty can help investigators build and participate in regional, national and international research networks and collaborative multi-disciplinary teams.

DCTS provides leadership in establishment, development, coordination and delivery of biostatistics, epidemiology and research design expertise to investigators. DCTS faculty collaborate with methodologic experts across our CCTS and the CTSA-affiliated networks. For example, DCTS faculty have active collaborations with BERD experts at MDACC, UTHealth School of Public Health, and UTHealth’s Center for Clinical Research and Evidence Based Medicine (CCREBM) to extend the application of adaptive Bayesian trial designs developed for cancer to non-cancer health issues such as stroke and heart failure.

Mission

The mission of DCTS is to promote innovative, state-of-the-art clinical and translational research of maximum public health benefit and scientific impact. DCTS is actively involved in collaborative activities in clinical medicine, decision science, and statistical methodology development.  Within its available resources, DCTS provides the resources required to pursue the following objectives in support of the overall goals of the CCTS.

  • Contribute to the enhancement and further development of the clinical and translational (CT) research infrastructure both within the CCTS and across UTHealth.
  • Develop short term and long-term collaborations between clinical/translational investigators and members of our CCTS network of experts in biostatistics, epidemiology and research design.
  • Contribute to the formal training and mentoring of the next generation of CT scientists with the necessary biostatistics, epidemiology and research design skills they need to be successful.
  • Contribute to advances in biostatistics, epidemiology and study design of clinical and translational research.

Goals

To achieve these goals, DCTS faculty leverage every opportunity through informal consultations to develop a collaborative relationship with CT investigators to promote the rapid development of innovative research ideas and the rapid dissemination of valid research findings. Typically, this is a long-term process that begins with providing study design, epidemiological, and statistical methods assistance in the development of a research proposal, proceeds (most often iteratively) with the acquisition of funding, and, over the course of actually conducting the study, produces findings and publications.

The goal of our DCTS include collaboration with investigators to optimize the often complex trade-offs between research innovation, its potential medical/public health impact, and the required investments of time and resources. DCTS aims to reduce the number of iterations required to successfully obtain research funding and to publish research findings. Although our faculty contribute to traditional epidemiology, biostatistics and research design courses at UTHealth, the DCTS promotes the educational goals of our Department most when we apply new approaches to problem-based learning in updated “classrooms”: whenever our research teams connect and communicate, regardless of how or where.

Research

DCTS BERD Support

Research support with a particular focus on study design, data management, and statistical analysis and interpretation, is provided by DCTS in one or more of the following capacities: collaboration, consultation or fee-for service. Additionally we also have expertise in managing large data coordinating centers and data cores, as well as experience in designing adaptive trials. We are committed to transdisciplinary synergy which is the basic premise for our interactions with investigators in various CCTS-affiliated institutions, schools, and departments. The initial BERD consultation to assess an investigator’s research needs is offered free of charge. After the initial consult, we make an assessment regarding the needs of the project. The DCTS generally recommend a collaborative arrangement in which a fixed percentage of effort of a DCTS faculty member is budgeted on the grant application. This prospective arrangement has the advantage of 1) assuring the investigator that the necessary BERD resources have been pre-negotiated and will be available when the application is funded and 2) optimizing the project’s capacity to produce valid, meaningful findings. Alternatively, departments may fund some percentage of DCTS faculty or staff effort to ensure that the department’s faculty and trainees will have timely access to statistical and epidemiological expertise. For internally funded projects requiring limited data management or statistical analysis, a contractual arrangement is also possible.

Please direct your request for DCTS BERD support to Heather Rambaran, Administrative Coordinator and Assistant to BERD Director, Dr. Mohammad Rahbar, Ph.D.

P: (713) 500-7907
E: Heather.R.Rambaran@uth.tmc.edu

Contact

Please contact our Administrative Coordinator with any questions or for further information.

Heather Rambaran
Administrative Coordinator in BERD
Assistant to BERD Director, Dr. Mohammad Rahbar, Ph.D

Heather.R.Rambaran@uth.tmc.edu
P: (713) 500-7907
F: (713) 500-0766
Biostatistics/Epidemiology/Research Design (BERD) Core
Center for Translational Sciences
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)
6410 Fannin 1100.WS29
Houston, TX 77030