2016 Holiday Message from Brent Coull

The Department was busy this past year concentrating on the development of several educational initiatives.

We launched a new Masters program in Health Data Science, with the first cohort scheduled to start in Fall 2017. This Program joins three existing Masters programs in Biostatistics and one in Computational Biology and Quantitative Genomics.

The Department developed several new courses this year. As part of the new Health Data Science program, the Department initiated two new courses on Data Science taught by Rafa Irizarry and Jukka-Pekka Onnela.  Other new courses offered by the Department this year include “Applied Bayesian Analysis”, taught by Cory Zigler, and a course starting next month “Cancer Genome Analysis and Interpretation” taught by Scott Carter.  As a result of a review of our existing course offerings, David Wypij undertook a major reformulation of two long-standing courses to create a new modern offering on “Applied Regression Analysis”. New material is currently being integrated into several of our doctoral level offerings as well.

In addition to focusing on course offerings for on-site students, the Department also continues to be active in online learning.  Funded by an NIH grant, Rafael Irizarry and JP Onnela developed online HarvardX courses in basic R programming skills and intermediate Python programming, for analyzing life sciences data. Garrett Fitzmaurice developed an online version of his popular class “Linear and Longitudinal Regression” for use in the School’s new teaching programs that blend in-residence and on-line instruction. Finally, departmental faculty John Quackenbush, Curtis Huttenhower, Lorenzo Trippa and research scientist Christine Chiorat are developing a HarvardX online course “Principles, Statistical and Computational Tools for Reproducible Science” to be launched in Fall 2017.

Along with online learning, the department explored other ways to expand our outreach.  As described later in this newsletter, department doctoral student Emily Slade secured a University grant from the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) to fund a student-run biostatistical consulting lab available to other students in the School.  The department is grateful for Emily’s initiative in identifying this need, securing financial support for the program, and organizing the doctoral students involved. Thanks also to Michael Hughes for serving as faculty advisor for this effort.

In summary, I am extremely grateful to the faculty, staff, and students who continually work hard to make these efforts a success, and am excited to see what the future brings.  Happy holidays and warmest wishes for a happy and healthy 2017.