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Biostatistics and Bioinformatics

Biostatistics Shared Resource Overview

The Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Shared Resource (BBSR) provides high-quality and timely biostatistics and bioinformatics support to Penn State Cancer Institute researchers. Members of the BBSR collaborate in the full spectrum of cancer research, including basic science, translational research, clinical trials and cancer prevention.


  • Design and analysis of clinical trials from Phase 1 to Phase 3
  • Retrospective analysis of medical records data using regression methods and survival analysis
  • Design and analysis of in vitro and in vivo experiments, including but not limited to dose-response estimation, drug screening and synergism identification of drug combinations
  • Longitudinal data, hierarchical models and mixed-effects regression
  • Prediction models for cancer risk, treatment response and prognostics
  • Statistical methods in personalized medicine
  • Analysis of genomics data, including but not limited to RNAseq, microarray, DNA copy number and DNA methylation
  • Design and analysis of population-based and epidemiological studies
  • Statistics methods in social and behavioral research
  • Data organization and cleaning


  • Serve as co-investigator on funded projects
  • Collaborate with investigators in developing and submitting new research grants
  • Work on unfunded projects of Penn State Cancer Institute researchers, including the analysis of preliminary data for abstracts, scientific presentations and publications
  • Support the Protocol Review Committee, the Data Safety and Monitoring Committee, and internal grants review
  • Provide biostatistics and bioinformatics education


The Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Shared Resource team can help researchers:

  • Choose the optimal design that answers research questions most efficiently and directly.
  • Determine the appropriate statistical power and sample size.
  • Select the most reliable and relevant endpoints and measurements for a particular study.
  • Perform expert data analysis that fully utilizes the information in the data.
  • Ensure data integrity and apply state-of-the-art data analysis practices.
  • Ensure that study results are accurately and effectively communicated in manuscripts and scientific presentations.
  • Work with cancer investigators on new grant applications.
  • Provide input on design and analysis in brainstorming sessions with investigators to develop new research initiatives.
  • Access and mine data in publicly available repositories.
  • Assist with manuscript preparation, including critical review of the text and creation of publication quality figures and summary tables.

Supported Software

  • R
  • SAS
  • PASS
  • Microsoft Office

Fee Structure

The BBSR exists to enhance the work done by Penn State Cancer Institute researchers. Because it has no equipment or operating costs, the BBSR is able to provide free support to Penn State Cancer Institute researchers. Importantly, this is done within a well-defined prioritization framework that emphasizes the development of funded projects as well as on-going support of funded projects. This approach enables the BBSR to work towards its ultimate goal, which is to establish collaborative relationships with institute researchers that lead to long-standing professional ties.

BBSR members are regularly included as co-investigators on new research grants. While the level of support varies depending on the work required for the project, 5% FTE is a common starting point for R01 or similar grants. In general, FTE support is strongly preferred. However, work may be billed at an hourly rate subject to guidelines from the Department of Public Health Sciences. Please contact a BBSR member for more information.


As noted above, BBSR members are regularly included as co-investigators on new research grant applications. Additionally, it is expected that BBSR members will be included as co-authors on abstracts, posters, scientific publications and conference presentations in order to recognize their intellectual contributions. Investigators are encouraged to discuss these and other related issues with BBSR members at the beginning of a research project.

Data Format

The software tools employed by BBSR members can import data files in many commonly used formats (e.g., Excel, tab-delimited text files (.txt), comma-separated values (.csv)). Some level of data cleaning may be necessary, particularly for clinical data sets that include written comments. Therefore it is recommended that investigators contact the BBSR prior to submitting their data for analysis. In general, the BBSR strongly recommends that clinical data sets for analysis be de-identified. Arrangements can be made to transfer genomic and other large data sets.

If the project uses a centralized electronic data capture and management system such as REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) or OnCore, the researcher should let the BBSR member know. It may be necessary to make connections between the project/data manager and the BBSR member so they can work together. Usually the most efficient approach is to download research data directly from the REDCap/OnCore system using a specific data format, but each project will be handled according to its specific needs.


BBSR members do their best to provide services in a timely fashion, especially when it comes to meeting submission deadlines for grants and abstracts. However, as described in the Fee Structure section above, the BBSR works within in prioritization framework. It is also important to note that this is a small group with many on-going projects and other professional responsibilities. Indeed, all BBSR members are teaching faculty in the Department of Public Health Sciences. Even though BBSR members have a broad range of expertise, some projects require highly specialized analysis techniques and software tools that are novel, and learning them takes time. For these reasons and more, investigators are encouraged to plan accordingly when requesting services from the BBSR.

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Contact Us

For details on the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics shared resource, contact: