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Developing Pathways for Future Research

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Grants are a fundamental part of funding important research studies. Many grants are highly competitive and research has proven that partnering with a statistician at the start of, and during, the grant writing process can improve the chances of a grant proposal being accepted.

“By working with a statistician, the researcher will ultimately develop a more robust study design and analytic plan, while also identifying potential methodological issues that could impact the validity and/or generalizability of their results,” vouched investigator partner Dr. Brianne Bettcher, Director of Neuropsychology Research, who has partnered with the Center for Innovative Design and Analysis (CIDA) on several applications.

CIDA has a knowledgeable team of biostatisticians and data scientist who are trained to assist with grant proposals. Through a partnership with the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design (BERD) program administered by CCTSI, CIDA can provide no-cost grant support for members of the University of Colorado and affiliates. The biostatisticians become a collaborator during the grant writing process which ensures a greater probability of the grant submission being funded. In return for the no cost support up front, a statistician is written into the grant and provides support once funded. The grant becomes a partnership with both teams have a vested interest in getting it funded.

A statistician’s expertise will help grant writers build a feasible study design by considering budget, variables, size of their study, how many groups it requires, and other numerous data collection factors. “Biostatisticians will review prior data and use that information to solidify [the] plan and budget. They [also] help with the feasibility of [the] study… Biostatisticians are well-versed in statistical analysis; they know what to look for when identifying problems at the start, which helps avoid statistical and analytical problems later,” said Dr. Ryan Peterson, Assistant Professor, Center for Innovative Design and Analysis. 

What We Do

CIDA partners with investigators from the first step to the final submission to develop a grant proposal.“A statistician will pay particular attention to developing specific aims and hypotheses that can be tested with data as opposed to developing the statistical model at the back-end when it is more difficult to implement,” Dr. Mary Sammel, Professor, CIDA, explains. Our biostatisticians work with the investigator to develop aims, map them into testable hypotheses, justify the study design and sample size, and write the analysis plan.

Biostatisticians are also familiar with a variety of data processing platforms and will take those into consideration when developing the analysis plan. CIDA’s biostatisticians will “assist with anything from a simple REDCap database to high-computing and machine-learning methods. They can help with the dissemination of the grant and analyses, and work to ensure the results are well understood and described in the grant by the study team,” described Dr. Peterson.

Our Biostatisticians and Data Scientists 

CIDA employs nearly 30 biostatisticians and data scientist with a wide-range of expertise and connects you with the best professional for your needs.

Meet a few faculty members who bring valuable experience and expertise to our team.

Mary Sammel Sc.D., has worked as a collaborative statistician for twenty-two years and has been writing grants with researchers in women’s health research for the duration of that time. Mary’s favorite part of the grant writing process is learning about the science researchers are conducting as well as the big-picture perspective on what the investigator is trying to accomplish and why they believe it is important work to be done.

Ryan Peterson, Ph.D., has expertise in predictive modeling and model selection, as well as clinical trials with multiple endpoints and survival analysis. Ryan also enjoys statistical computation and has developed software for simulations which assists with planning and powering clinical and most other trials. Ryan’s favorite part of the grant writing process is to see the impact a statistical perspective can bring to a grant, and how having a statistician work with a researcher can make a grant that is too broad concise and describable by honing in on a specific research question.

Sarah Schmiege, Ph.D., has worked with grants for several years with the center. Her favorite part of the grant writing process is working with a team of investigators, learning about the investigator’s area of research and discussing the optimal way to tackle a given scientific problem. She enjoys being creative in coming up with the best aims, design, and analysis plan to apply to the problem. 

How it Works

You can submit a request by visiting our website and clicking on the Grant Development button.

The request is reviewed to see if it is a match for CIDA’s expertise and availability, the investigator will be contacted to meet for an initial consult. “The ideal/successful process of writing a grant with CIDA is to approach CIDA early in the process when there is a draft of specific aims and study design, but the proposal and budget have not yet been finalized,” advises Dr. Sarah Schmiege, Associate Professor, Center for Innovative Design and Analysis, “[g]rant budget considerations and sample size calculations go hand in hand, so it is critical to work with a statistician early in the process for power and sample size estimates, as these can have a large impact on study feasibility, timelines, and budgets.”

After the initial meeting, the investigator will receive a Grant Development Agreement with the budget, an outline of the services provided, and deadlines during the grant writing process. Once signed, the investigator will work directly with the biostatistician to receive advice on the grant submission, study design, and analysis methods.

Upon completion, a fully developed grant will be ready for submission. Once the grant is funded, the investigator will collaborate with the biostatistician who was written into the grant proposal as outlined in the grant.“

A statistician provides critical input into the study design, analysis and interpretation of results, all of which are integral to the grant writing process… The process was flexible and tailored to my grant writing needs…My R01 application was greatly strengthened by working with CIDA, and Dr. Nichole Carlson, Professor and Director of CIDA has assisted at every stage (i.e., initial application, revision, and now implementation) to develop the best possible study. CIDA has been a tremendous asset and collaborative partner to my work, and I have greatly appreciated the process of working with them,” said Dr. Bettcher, Director of Neuropsychology Research, on her experience with partnering with CIDA’s biostatisticians to assist with her grant process. CIDA is motivated to develop strong collaborations and build working relationships so that the university and affiliates can benefit from having expert biostatistical support on their grants. 

Topics: Data and Health