Biostatistics Unit

The Biostatistics Center maintains a combined research and collaborative program that focuses on the development and application of quantitative methods relevant to cancer.


The Biostatistics Unit Collaborates with Mass General investigators on clinical and laboratory studies, acts as a statistical center for national and international clinical studies and conducts research in statistical methodology.
Collaborative Activity: The center provides statistical support to MGH investigators planning studies or applying for funding through its membership in the Catalyst Program, the MGH Clinical Research Program and the Harvard Cancer Center. The center also consults with investigators on data analysis problems, and provides statistical support to many Departments and Units within the Hospital.

Experience as a Coordinating Center

Currently the center is involved in the coordination of six major national and international programs. They are the clinical coordinating center for the ARDS network, which conducts clinical trials on Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome in 34 hospitals located in 12 clinical sites in the Unites States. Over the past 11 years they have followed over 4000 patients in eight clinical trials. Their responsibilities include, statistical support, clinical coordination, data management, computer support and logistics and communication.

The Biostatistics Center provides logistic, statistical, and database support for the Cancer Genetics Network that is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to support collaborative investigations into the genetic basis of cancer susceptibility, explore mechanisms to integrate this new knowledge into medical practice, and identify ways of addressing the associated psychosocial issues. The network has eight centers and is conducting studies on Ovarian, Breast and Colon Cancer screening, the genetics of breast and renal cancer and on physician risk counseling and emotional health and preventative behaviors.

The center provides statistical and data management support to the Large Scale Collaboration “Inflammation and the Host Response” which accrues patients with severe trauma in burns in 10 US hospitals, and follows them over time using microarrays, high throughput plasma proteomics and white blood phenotyping to try to understand the etiology of multiple organ failure.
The center provides statistical support to the New England ALS Consortium which conducts clinical trials at thirty five US hospitals and the United Kingdom Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening, that plans to recruit over 200,000 women randomized between screening using CA-125 and ultrasound and usual care. In addition it provides support for the multicenter Rule Out Myocardial Infarction with Cardiac CT trial and the Clinical Health Outcomes Initiative in Comparative Effectiveness trial in bipolar depression.

Research in Statistical Methodology

The center's research program in statistical methodology has focused on interval censored data, the relationship between longitudinal and survival data, the design of clinical trials including sample size estimation, methods for analysis of gene arrays and Bayesian methods for cancer screening using tumor markers.


Group Members

  • Dianne Finkelstein, PhD
  • Hang Lee, PhD
  • Eric Macklin, PhD
  • Steven J. Skates, PhD
  • Beow Y. Yeap, ScD

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