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BD2K Predoctoral Training Grant in Biomedical Big Data Sciences

17 October 2016—We are thrilled to announce that The University of Texas at Austin was recently awarded a NIH Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) T32 Training Grant that will support five graduate students in Biomedical Big Data Sciences per year. This pre-doctoral training program is an innovative graduate program that will help train a new generation of scientists with expertise in statistics, computer science, and biology to solve important public health problems involving big data and improve overall health. 

In recent years, the College of Natural Sciences has experienced an explosion of interest from graduate students who are eager to gain skills in big data analysis and data sciences. Many biomedical research graduate students are realizing the value of augmenting their biomedical research training with data science skills, while simultaneously computer science and statistics graduate students are eager to apply their training to the analysis of complex health- and disease-related datasets, but often lack the necessary background in biology and disease. Holistic training in biomedical big data requires doctoral-level expertise at the intersection of biology, computer science and statistics.

“The ever-increasing accumulation of data continues to outstrip the graduate training needed to meaningfully mine the data collected,” said Dr. Mike Daniels, chair and professor of UT’s Department of Statistics and Data Sciences (SDS), professor of Integrative Biology, and program director for the new program. “Traditional PhD training programs demand that students choose just one area as a focus but this program will train students with multidisciplinary skills without sacrificing strength in their core PhD area.”

Dr. Daniels serves as program director, and Dr. Lauren Meyers, professor of Integrative Biology, and Dr. Inderjit Dhillon, professor of Computer Science, make up the Executive Committee. The training program welcomed its first cohort of students: Vikram Baruah (Biomedical Engineering), Evan Ott (Statistics), Raghav Shroff (Cellular & Molecular Biology), Kevin Song (Computer Science), and Serena Zhao (Ecology, Evolution, & Behavior). Drs. Daniels, Meyers and Dhillon will mentor these trainees, along with nineteen additional UT faculty members serving as mentors and/or rotation hosts.

The program will offer an integrated training experience with coursework, research lab rotations, and regular seminar/workshop. Each trainee will participate in at least two lab rotations designed to give students direct mentoring, the experience of working on a research team, and experience working on real problems in big data. Through the weekly seminar/workshop, trainees will be introduced to research areas, develop skills in critical literature evaluation, strengthen their oral and written communication, and report on team rotation projects. 

For more information about this training program please visit our Biomedical Big Data Training Grant webpage. 

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