Biostatistics and Epidemiology Consulting Service (BECS)

The Biostatistics and Epidemiology Consulting Service (BECS) provides biostatistical and epidemiologic support to improve the quality of health-related research conducted at the George Washington University and by affiliated research groups. We provide support through consultations, extended collaborative relationships, communication about best practices, and broad-based services in research design, statistical analysis, data management, and dissemination of findings.

The priority services of the BECS are pre-award consultations and analysis:

  • Pre-award consultation on biostatistical methods, sample size selection, and study design for health-related grant proposals
  • Assistance with pre-award statistical analysis of preliminary data to support a grant application

There is no fee for these pre-award services, although it is possible that charge-back mechanisms may be developed in the future.

For post-award services and analyses, typically the consulting biostatistician or epidemiologist would be included in the grant application as a co-investigator, and receive a negotiated percent effort to support their ongoing participation in the study should the grant application be successful. The BECS will assist investigators to develop appropriate scope of work and budget justifications as well as standard descriptions of available resources and facilities.

Non-grant related services and consultations are also available subject to faculty availability.

 

 

 

Available Services

The BECS provides assistance to health researchers directly as well as through connected services: the DC-CFAR and the CTSI-CN.  The services available depend on your institution, role, and area of research as summarized in the table below. Click on the links for more information and to request services.

Services available by Role and Research Area

 

Your  Research  Area

Your Role

HIV/AIDS

Clinical or Translational

Other Heath-Related

Non-Health Related

GW employee with faculty appointment (any school)*

DC-CFAR

CTSI-CN

BECS Quick Clinic

BECS

BECS Quick Clinic

NA

MFA employee with GW faculty appointment OR resident OR fellow

DC-CFAR

CTSI-CN

MFA Statistical Services

BECS Quick Clinic

MFA Statistical Services

BECS

NA

Faculty at Children’s National*

DC-CFAR

CTSI-CN

DBM

NA

GW PhD student - dissertation

BECS Quick Clinic

BECS Quick Clinic

BECS Quick Clinic

Academic Commons

GW other graduate or undergraduate student

Academic Commons

Academic Commons

Academic Commons

Academic Commons

Not at GW or Children’s National

DC-CFAR

Generally not currently available

*Applies to GW staff working with faculty as well. 

**Individual departments sometimes offer statistical consultation services to their students for student research.

 

Academic Commons: Statistical consultations through Gelman Library.

 

BECS:  Biostatistics and Epidemiology Consulting Service.

BECS Quick Clinic: provides free one hour consultations.    

CTSI-CN:  Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children's National; the BECS and Children’s Hospital Division of Biostatistics jointly provide statistical consulting services to investigators located at either GWU or Children’s Hospital.   

DBM: Division of Biostatistics and Methodology at Children's Research Institute.

DC-CFAR:  DC Center for AIDS Research; supports HIV/AIDS researchers from any of the 8 participating organizations within the District of Columbia; support is coordinated through the BECS.

 

MFA Statistical Services:  The GWU MFA provides statistical support to GW MFA-based investigators. Contact Rich Amdur at ramdur@mfa.gwu.edu for more information.

 

Request BECS Services

Grant applications

Please email becs@gwu.edu. Include your name, the PI's name (if someone other than you), department, study/project title, and a brief explanation of what you'd like to discuss. 

Quick Questions

For health-related statistical and data management questions that can typically be answered within an hour, please schedule an appointment to attend the BECS Quick Clinic

Support for basic science research (not clinical translational)

Please email becs@gwu.edu. Include your name, the PI's name (if someone other than you), study/project title, and a brief explanation of what you'd like to discuss. 

Support for all other research projects

For all other research projects, please complete a SPARC request through the CTSI-CN website.  Once we receive the request, we will contact you to clarify details of the support needed, and the project will be assigned to one of our consultants. Click here for instructions.

Not sure what you need? Email us at becs@gwu.edu

 

 

BECS Quick Clinic

The BECS Quick Clinic is a free resource for GW-based faculty, medical residents and fellows, and staff working with GW faculty. Now the clinic is also available to GW PhD and DrPH students who have statistical questions connected with their dissertations on health topics. The purpose of the Quick Clinic is to handle health-related statistical and data management questions that can typically be answered within a one-hour session.   If you are not sure whether your question can be answered quickly, feel free to attend the clinic anyway.  If the answer requires more time, we can advise you on next steps.  Here are examples of typical questions that might be answered within a session:

  • Based on a medical record review, I would like to compare the profiles of patients who received 1 of 2 treatments.  What significance tests should I use?
  • My manuscript was conditionally accepted for publication provided that I do a Wilcoxon Rank Sum test to compare 2 groups.  How do I do this test?
  • What sample size do I need to conduct a study comparing 2 groups?
  • I am a research assistant helping a faculty member analyze their data using SAS.  The results do not make sense to me.  Can you help me understand whether there is an error in my programming?

The clinics are available by appointment during the fall and spring semesters. To see available times and schedule an appointment, click on the link below.

 

Schedule an Appointment 

 

Note: If you are planning to write a grant application, or if you are certain that you will need more than a one hour consultation, instead of the Quick Clinic, you will need to use one of the other service request options here.

 

Resources

Research Resources

REDCap: The Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) application allows users to build and manage online surveys and databases quickly and securely. It is the database platform of choice in all CTSA awarded institutions and for other institutions across the globe. There is no charge for current Children’s National and George Washington University (GW) faculty, staff, sponsored students, and sponsored affiliates conducting clinical and translational research. 

CTSPedia:  CTSPedia was created as a national effort to collect wisdom, tools, educational materials, and other items useful for clinical and translational researchers and to provide timely and useful advice to clinical and translational researchers with specific problems.  

 

Statistical Software

R Software: R is a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics. It compiles and runs on a wide variety of UNIX platforms, Windows, and MacOS. Additional resources for R users to assist with programming, creating graphics, and understanding output include: DataCampPenn State's "Topics in R" free online course.

 

Past Seminars

The seminars listed below were sponsored by the BECS or selected by the BECS for their relevance to good practices in health research. Links to slides and/or webinar recordings are included where available.

The Joint GW-CNHS Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design (BERD) Tutorial Series 

  • October 18, 2019: Sensitivity Analyses in Observational Research​Scott Quinlan, PhD 

In this 50-minute tutorial, Dr. Quinlan provides an introduction to the uses of sensitivity analyses in public health research. View slides or watch and listen below.

VIEW SLIDES

  • March 29, 2019: The Use of Instrumental Variables in Observational ResearchScott Quinlan, PhD 

Instrumental variables represent a unique approach to address both known and unknown confounders. In this 50-minute tutorial, Dr. Quinlan introduces the basic approach with some examples and discusses the opportunities and challenges of this method for observational research. View slides or watch and listen below. 

VIEW SLIDES

  • October 19, 2018: ​An Introduction to the Use of Propensity Score Methods, Scott Quinlan, PhD 

This 50-minute tutorial provides an introduction to the use of propensity scores methods including how to create, assess, use, and report on propensity scores, as well as how they can contribute to the validity of research and limitations to their appropriate use.

VIEW SLIDES

  • March 20, 2018: ​An Introduction to the Challenges and Opportunities of Studying Drug and Vaccine Safety in the Real WorldScott Quinlan, PhD 

This 50-minute tutorial provides an introductory review of how drug and vaccine safety issues are identified and studied after FDA approval and initial market entry. The intended audience includes students and researchers with a knowledge of basic statistical methods who are interested in learning more about this growing area of drug and vaccine safety research. Watch below.

  • March 10, 2017: Reproducible Analyses, Naji Younes, PhD

Data analyses often stretch over time as results are reviewed and updated. Along the way the data may change as errors are corrected and additional information is obtained. The process of running analyses and repeatedly updating manuscripts or reports can be cumbersome. We'll discuss simple tools to greatly simplify the analyst's work, reduce errors and produce analyses that are easily reproduced and extended by others. This talk focuses on the R language which provide a collection of tools for that purpose, but the ideas can be extended to other languages as well.

  • October 3, 2014: REDCap: A Focus on Good Data Management Practices, Adrienne Arrieta, MS

Good data management practices are important to conceptualize before the beginning of data collection in any research study. Establishing how you will conduct, document, organize, manage, preserve, and analyze your data at the beginning of your research project has many benefits. This talk focuses on several good data management techniques and practices and how REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) , a free and secure web application for building and managing online surveys and databases, can assist researchers in implementing these techniques to create overall better research and science. 

 

Other Seminars

  • March 26, 2018: Evaluation of Public Health Interventions: Recent Developments in Cluster Randomized Trials and Related Designs, Liz Turner, PhD

VIEW SLIDES

  • October, 2017: The Month of R Series, Naji Younes, PhD

Introduction to using R for analysis of health data.

  • October 2, 2015: Pilot Studies and Statistics: A Murky Mix, Sam Simmens, PhD

Pilot studies are nearly universally recommended or required before proceeding with larger confirmatory studies, but the role and value of statistical analyses in these studies is often vague. In this session, Dr. Simmens will review some of the contrasting definitions and recommendations in the literature and lead a discussion of how statistics in pilot or feasibility studies can be useful--or not--for specific kinds of studies. 

  • June 5, 2015: Strategies for Dealing with Multiple Comparisons, Naji Younes, PhD

Statistical analysis and reports often include many tests of hypotheses. Since each individual test has a chance of yielding a false positive, conducting multiple tests increases the chances of getting spurious results. This talk explores several simple strategies for managing multiple tests, including p-value adjustments, methods that control the false discovery rate and graphical techniques for deriving testing strategies. 

 

Meet Our Team

 

Leadership

 

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Sam Simmens, PhD (Director)

 

Yan Ma, PhD (Associate Director)

 

Faculty

 

Adam Ciarleglio, PhD

 

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Angelo Elmi, PhD

 

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Heather Hoffman, PhD

 

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Melinda Power, ScD

 

Scott Quinlan, PhD

 

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Margaret Ulfers, PhD

 

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Heather Young, PhD

 

 

Staff

 

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Annette Aldous, MPH

 

Morgan Byrne, MPH

 

Xuejing Duan, PhD

 

STUDENT CONSULTANTS
BECS faculty also work with students enrolled in the Milken Institute School of Public Health to provide consulting services. Students in the Biostatistics MS and PhD programs, as well as those in the Epidemiology MS and PhD programs, are generally required to have supervised experience in biostatistical consultation on GW health-related research projects. The BECS Director and other faculty identify appropriate projects and provide supervision for this excellent learning experience.

About

The BECS is embedded within the Milken Institute School of Public Health and receives support from:

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI-CN)

The District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research (DC CFAR)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact

 

For questions or additional information, please email: becs@gwu.edu