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UT-Austin Wins Interdisciplinary “Big Data” Grant

22 July 2016—The University of Texas at Austin has received a $1.02 million training grant from the National Institutes of Health to train a new generation of scientists in statistics, biology, and computer science in order to solve important public health problems involving big data and improve overall health.

The grant will fund a new predoctoral training program in biomedical big data at UT. The goal is to develop scientists with expertise in statistics, computer science, or biology while also obtaining essential training in all three core areas (statistics, biology, and computer science). This will equip the graduates from the program to make important scientific discoveries using big data.

“The ever-increasing accumulation of data continues to outstrip the graduate training needed to meaningfully mine the data collected,” said Mike Daniels, chair and professor of UT’s Department of Statistics and Data Sciences and 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.”

The program will offer an integrated training experience with coursework, research lab rotations, and a 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.

Dr. Lauren Meyers, professor of Integrative Biology, and Dr. Inderjit Dhillon, professor of Computer Science, are co-PIs for the program.  Nineteen additional UT faculty will serve as mentors and/or rotation hosts.

Trainees will typically receive two years of funding. The five-year grant will fund five trainees per year.
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