Iowa Summer Institute in Biostatistics receives three-year grant

Published on March 28, 2019

The Iowa Summer Institute for Research Education in Biostatistics (ISIREB) has received a $770,257 grant over three years from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

A portrait of Gideon Zamba of the University of Iowa College of Public Health
Gideon Zamba

Directed by Gideon Zamba, CPH professor of biostatistics and principal investigator of the grant, the goal of ISIREB is to increase the number of undergraduates who enter graduate programs in biostatistics and to maintain a solid underrepresented pipeline into biostatistics graduate programs.

“We recruit a diverse group of 18 trainees each year with a focus on underrepresented, disadvantaged, and small liberal arts college students who wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to the field of biostatistics, for a seven-week research education program,” says Zamba.

Recruitment focuses on

  • seniors from colleges and universities without graduate programs or an extensive undergraduate education in statistics or biostatistics,
  • graduating senior students with no commitment to a graduate program six months following ISIREB,
  • highly promising juniors with a clear vision to pursue graduate degrees in biostatistics, and
  • some graduate students with a desire to pursue a second master’s or a PhD in biostatistics.

Special efforts are made to recruit a diverse student body, including trainees from groups underrepresented in biomedical research.

The curriculum is a four-component model based on instruction, application, exposure, and research. The research education program is provided through case-based instruction of real biomedical study, consisting of classroom didactic courses; computer laboratory training; invited talk sessions; Skype sessions; shadowing sessions; and clinical and translational research enrichment.

As initiation to quantitative biomedical research, trainees undertake biostatistics faculty-mentored projects on biomedical research. Trainees select from a pool of projects according to their interest and are matched to a faculty mentor. Projects are based on the analysis of biomedical data, and/or the design of a biomedical experiment, and/or the statistical and computational issues associated with big data. The research teams present their research findings at the program’s concluding symposium.

Trainees interact with biostatisticians in academia, industry, and the pharmaceutical industry; biomedical researchers; biostatistics graduate students; biostatistics alumni; and others. Guidance on how to successfully prepare for a GRE, how to prepare a successful admission application, and how to apply to graduate schools is also provided.

Read more about ISIREB and past projects.