VICC Data Science Shared Resource

The purpose of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) Data Science Shared Resource (DSSR) is to provide professional expertise in biostatistics, bioinformatics, and clinical research informatics for VICC investigators. Functions provided by the DSSR include: development of experimental designs, development of power and sample size analyses, data acquisition and database development, facilitation of data sharing, patient identification within the electronic health record (EHR), statistical and bioinformatics analysis and interpretation of findings, collaboration on presentation of results, education in biostatistical and bioinformatic methods, and development of tools/methods with application to laboratory and clinical research. 

To ensure that the DSSR is providing state-of-the-art statistical and bioinformatic support, the DSSR director and associate directors work closely with investigators and are in regular contact with the leaders of VICC research programs and other shared resources. DSSR objectives include:

  1. providing study design, power analysis and sample size estimation services, and feasibility assessments
  2. reviewing laboratory, animal, clinical, omics, and prevention studies
  3. collaborating in funded research efforts initiated by VICC investigators, providing statistical and bioinformatic data analysis, interpretation of results and the writing of final study reports and manuscripts
  4. developing and evaluating statistical and bioinformatic methods and software for experimental design, visualization tools and data analysis
  5. providing relational database design, data entry, data tracking, forms, queries and reports, and maintaining computer databases for information storage and retrieval for investigator-initiated clinical trials or laboratory studies
  6. developing research project databases, maintaining data quality control and ensuring timely data capture
  7. working with the Genomic Sciences Shared Resource (GSSR) to develop bioinformatic tools and pipelines, ensure data quality control and provide novel computational biology support
  8. training VICC members in research design and data analysis through seminars, short statistical and bioinformatic workshops, and individual sessions on statistical and bioinformatic methods

To begin accessing assistance for your project, see our introduction to biostatistics resources at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The DSSR’s primary location is at 2525 West End Avenue, which is convenient to the VICC by foot, car, and shuttle. This environment includes office, meeting, and storage spaces, with open format areas to facilitate collaboration. 2525 West End Avenue houses Vanderbilt’s Department of Biostatistics, Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI), the Center for Quantitative Sciences (CQS), the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR), the Vanderbilt Biostatistics Data Coordinating Center (VBDCC), Vanderbilt Technologies for Advanced Genomics Analysis and Research Design (VANGARD), and other teams engaged in supporting VICC projects. Several DSSR leaders also have offices located at VICC in the Preston Research Building, in close proximity to the outpatient clinic, meeting rooms, and administrative resources. There is dedicated dry lab space within the GSSR laboratory as well, to facilitate coordination of shared data management and analysis activities between the two cores.

Our high-performance network includes well-equipped workstations and laptops on System76 (Linux), Dell (Windows), or Apple (macOS) hardware with Intel Core i7 processors or better, 16 GB of memory or more, and at least 500 GB of disk space. Virtualization enhances hardware utility through software such as Docker (for containerized application development), as well as virtual machines spun up for specific environment and software needs. Users have access to common software for document development, project management, and communication, as well as powerful applications for specialized work. The R package for statistical computing and graphics is installed on the workstations of all DSSR analysts. Workstations and network storage spaces are backed up on a regular basis. All computers are connected to the Vanderbilt campus network, which provides high-speed access to Internet-based services and resources. Finally, DSSR members have access to computing clusters such as ACCRE (Advanced Computing Center for Research and Education), cloud-based platforms (e.g., AWS, GCP, MS Azure), and internationally acclaimed survey and data capture instruments such as REDCap. VUMC’s primary file-sharing, storage, and collaboration platform is OneDrive for Business, with other services and repositories utilized as appropriate. In conjunction with VUMC Enterprise Cybersecurity and its ExpeditionTech initiative, the DSSR continually upgrades its modern technology environment with multiple layers of protection.