In the past decade, bioinformatics has emerged as a primary source of challenges for methodological researchers in biostatistics. The enormity of the size of the data that results from research in this field, specifically in DNA sequencing, microarrays, and proteomic studies, has required statisticians to re-think their analytical strategies. VCU’s Department of Biostatistics has established an area of concentration in the analysis of genomic data within the existing Ph.D. program in Biostatistics. This concentration, Genomic Biostatistics, provides in-depth training in statistical theory and methods. In addition, the traditional Ph.D. coursework is complemented by the requirement of coursework pertaining to the recent developments in microarray data analysis, data mining/machine learning, sequence analysis, and requires out-of-track electives in biochemistry, molecular biology, or genetics.
Ph.D. candidates must complete at least 56 semester credit hours worth 3 or more credits. Required coursework for the first year of graduate study includes BIOS 513 & 514 Mathematical Statistics I and II, BIOS 553 & 554 Applied Statistics I and II, BIOS 524 Biostatistical Computing and BIOS 546 Linear Models. Two additional courses are also required: BIOS 567 Statistical Methods for Microarray Data and one of the following - BIOS 571 Clinical Trials, BIOS 572 Analysis of Biomedical Data, or BNFO 601 Integrated Bioinformatics. If BIOS 567 Statistical Methods for Microarray Data is not taken during the first year, this course must be completed in a subsequent year. A two-part qualifying examination covering the theoretical coursework (BIOS 513, 514, and 546) and four of the applied courses (BIOS 553 & 554 and two courses from the following: BIOS 571, BIOS 572, BIOS 567 or BNFO 601) is administered after the first year of study.
Required coursework to be completed in years two and three of graduate study include: BIOS 615 & 616 Advanced Inference I and II, BIOS 631 & 632 Multivariate Methods I and II, BIOS 625 Categorical Data Analysis, BIOS 667 Advanced Data Analysis, and BNFO 650 Sequence Analysis in Biological Systems. A comprehensive exam will be given at the end of the third year and will include material from the following courses: BIOS 615 & 616, BIOS 631 & 632 and BIOS 625. Also, at least two courses from a list of recommended electives (e.g., BNFO 507 Essential Molecular Biology for Bioinformatics, BIOC 502 Biochemistry, BIOC 541 Molecular Genetics, BIOC 605 Molecular Biology, HGEN 501 Human Genetics) are required in addition to the quantitative coursework.
First year sequence of courses. Fall Spring BIOS 513 BIOS 514 BIOS 553 BIOS 554 BIOS 524 BIOS 546 BNFO 601 BIOS 567 Required courses beyond first year sequence. Fall Spring BIOS 615 BIOS 616 BIOS 631 BIOS 632 BIOS 625 elective BIOS 667 Elective BNFO 650 --> Ph.D. students must additionally pass a two-part comprehensive examination, consisting of a written portion and a data analytic portion. The written exam covers material from BIOS 615 & 616 Advanced Inference I & II, BIOS 631 & 632 Multivariate Methods I & II, and BIOS 625 Categorical Data Analysis. Thesis: Each candidate enrolled in the Genomic Biostatistics concentration will complete a thesis. Although the specific topic may be broadly pertinent to other areas of research, the thesis must be demonstratively applicable to data arising from genomic studies. Departmental Seminar (BIOS 690): The Department of Biostatistics sponsors a seminar series in which faculty, students, and guests present topics of interest. Each full-time student is expected to register for seminar each semester. Biostatistical Consulting (BIOS 516): The Department of Biostatistics supports a Biostatistical Consulting Lab (BCL) as a part of its training program. All full-time students are required to register for BIOS 516 each semester.