Collaborating Centre for Statistical Omics

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The aims of the HSCC for Statistical Omics are to:

  1. Build on the foundation established by the CIHR-funded STAGE inter-disciplinary training program in genetic epidemiology, statistical genetics and genomics.
  2. Expand training components in statistical computing & computational methods for PhD trainees (Graduate Programs in Biostatistics & Statistics) and Post-doctoral fellows (with backgrounds in statistics and biostatistics).
  3. Develop MSc level research training that integrates coursework in biostatistics and computing with a health science experiential project placement

The STAGE Program at the University of Toronto pioneered cross-disciplinary, multi-activity training for genetic epidemiology and statistical genetics health researchers integrated with existing graduate programs and on-going research programs http://www.stage.utoronto.ca/about/curriculum. The on-going STAGE program capitalizes on a high concentration of genetic epidemiologists, statistical geneticists, and biomedical researchers at UofT and affiliated institutions, with more than 40 mentors from complementary disciplines (www.stage.utoronto.ca/people/mentors). STAGE mentors are involved in national and international research teams and consortia, providing opportunities for trainees to develop national and international networks involving internships.

Associated faculty in biostatistics and statistics working in statistical omics thus have well-established collaborations with researchers in local health science organizations.  At the doctoral and post-doctoral levels, HSCC faculty provide cross-disciplinary mentorship and supervision of trainees in interdisciplinary omics research teams http://www.stage.utoronto.ca/people/trainees_and_alumni . Experiential learning placements for the PhD’s include research assistantships in research institute labs, leading to co-supervision of thesis research motivated by statistical issues in human genomics research.  At the MSc level, faculty routinely supervise trainees in statistical analysis of large complex genomic datasets. These experiential trainees include McMaster University MSc Statistics thesis students, interns from the University of Waterloo Biostatistics Training Initiative (OICR) https://uwaterloo.ca/biostatistics-training-initiative/internship, as well as Toronto DLSPH Biostatistics practicum students http://www.dlsph.utoronto.ca/course/laboratory-in-statistical-design-and-analysis/. These often lead to additional research placements and subsequent employment.

The Collaborating Centre for Statistical Omics is led by:

Steering Committee

Laurent Briollais, Dalla Lana School of Public Health (DLSPH) Biostatistics, University of Toronto and Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute
Jennifer Brooks, Co-Director of STAGE (2018- ), DLSPH Epidemiology
Shelley Bull (Chair of Steering Committee), Co-Director of STAGE, DLSPH Biostatistics  and Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute
Angelo Canty, Mathematics and Statistics, McMaster University
Rafal Kustra, DLSPH Biostatistics, University of Toronto
Andrew Paterson, DLSPH Biostatistics and SickKids Research Institute
Lisa Strug, DLSPH Biostatistics and SickKids Research Institute
Lei Sun, Statistical Sciences, U of Toronto and DLSPH Biostatistics
Wei Xu, DLSPH Biostatistics and University Health Network

Other Faculty

Radu Craiu, Statistical Sciences, University of Toronto
France Gagnon, Co-Director of STAGE (2010-2019), DLSPH Epidemiology, DLSPH Associate Dean Research
Rayjean Hung, DLSPH Epidemiology and Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute
Jerry Lawless, Statistics and Actuarial Science, University of Waterloo
Geoff Liu, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine & DLSPH Epidemiology and University Health Network

Affiliated Universities:

Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
Statistical Sciences, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, University of Toronto
Mathematics and Statistics, McMaster University

Health Science Organizations

Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System
Sick Kids Research Institute – Genetics and Genome Biology
The Centre for Applied Genomics – The Hospital for Sick Children
University Health Network – Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre – Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program

Training Program:

Degree Programs PhD & MSc programs in biostatistics and statistics at the University of Toronto are well-established. PhD programs require coursework, qualifying/comprehensive exams, and original thesis research (which often consists of publications/ manuscripts in the form of a “paper” thesis). Students have the option to take courses in the “sister” department. MSc programs are largely coursework-based of 8-12 months duration; a thesis option is available in biostatistics. In Biostatistics (PhD & MSc) the required Laboratory course involves a practicum placement in a health research setting.

Specialized Course Offerings include Fundamentals of Statistical Genetics, Modern Statistical Genetics, Statistical Models in Complex Human Genetic Disease, Genetic Epidemiology, Statistical Methods for Genetics and Genomics – Research Seminar and Journal Club, as well as access to cross-disciplinary courses in computational biology, computer science, and molecular & human genetics. Additional courses are under development. 

STAGE program focuses on quantitative training at the doctoral & post-doctoral levels, encompassing statistical genetics & genomics, genetic & molecular epidemiology, and biomedical genetics. STAGE has established cross-disciplinary, multi-activity training for genetic epidemiology & statistical genetics health researchers and offers a creative curriculum of courses, internships, and professional skills development (www.stage.utoronto.ca/about/curriculum). Admission to the program is competitive and requires formal application reviewed by a multi-discplinary admissions committee. The curriculum comprises: Cross-disciplinary trio mentorship; core, integrative, cross-disciplinary courses; grant writing skills & peer review activities; local, national & international internship placements; the monthly International Speaker Seminar Series (ISSS) and weekly StatGen Journal Club; and workshops in professional skills development.

Weekly Seminar and Journal Club in Statistical Methods for Genetics and Genomics brings together the local statistical omics community for informal discussions of current topics. For trainees the objectives are to: obtain basic understanding of developments in statistical genetic/genomic methods and current analytic issues in genetic epidemiology; become cognizant of sources of methodology literature for the design and analysis of investigations in statistical genetics, statistical genomics, and genetic epidemiology; develop critical evaluation skills for underlying theory and/or applications of current study designs and statistical analysis methods; develop skills in communication and presentation in an inter-disciplinary setting. http://www.stage.utoronto.ca/home/smg

Monthly International Speaker Seminar Series is videoconferenced across Canada. It aims to: expose trainees to high-calibre international research; further interdisciplinary research innovation, discovery, and learning; foster a cohesive research community of genetic epidemiologists and statistical geneticists in Canada; promote rigorous and relevant research in this field; enable new networks of collaborative research.    http://www.stage.utoronto.ca/home/isss

Contact Information:

Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
Health Sciences Building,155 College St, Toronto, Ontario M5T 3M7

Enquiries: Patricia Nguyen, PhD
CIHR STAGE Program Coordinator
Strategic Training for Advanced Genetic Epidemiology
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
155 College St., 7th floor, Room 735
Telephone: 416 946 7244

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