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Biostatistics PhD/Master’s Student Seminar Series

March 2, 2023 @ 1:00 pm - 1:50 pm

Belén Otero Carrasco
Title: Repositioning Drugs for Rare Diseases Based on Biological Features and Computational Approaches
Abstract: Rare diseases are a group of uncommon diseases in the world population. To date, about 7000 rare diseases have been documented. However, most of them do not have a known treatment. As a result of the relatively low demand for their treatments caused by their scarce prevalence, the pharmaceutical industry has not sufficiently encouraged research to develop drugs to treat them. This work aims to analyze potential drug-repositioning strategies for this kind of disease. Drug repositioning seeks to find new uses for existing drugs. In this context, it seeks to discover if rare diseases could be treated with medicines previously indicated to heal other diseases. Our approaches tackle the problem by employing computational methods that calculate similarities between rare and non-rare diseases, considering biological features such as genes, proteins, and symptoms. Drug candidates for repositioning will be checked against clinical trials found in the scientific literature. In this study, 13 different rare diseases have been selected for which potential drugs could be repositioned. By verifying these drugs in the scientific literature, successful cases were found for 75% of the rare diseases studied. The genetic associations and phenotypical features of the rare diseases were examined. In addition, the verified drugs were classified according to the anatomical therapeutic chemical (ATC) code to highlight the types with a higher predisposition to be repositioned. These promising results open the door for further research in this field of study.

Upcoming seminars:
We are also looking for students to present in future seminars this semester. We have a room reservation for the following Thursdays this semester:
• March 23: TBA
• April 6: Luke Benz + TBA
• April 20: Carmen Rodriguez + TBA
• May 4: Keith Barnatchez
If you are interested in presenting this semester, please reach out to one (or both) of us! As a reminder, most talks run around 30–45 minutes, with the remaining seminar time left over for student questions and discussion. Two students can also split a seminar slot, in which case the individual talks are typically briefer (around 20 minutes each). We are also open to adding dates if there’s sufficient demand, especially later in the semester for practice defenses.

What is the Biostatistics PhD/Master’s Student Seminar Series?
The series is a casual and relaxing place for Biostatistics students to informally gather roughly every other week to share research, connect with other students, give practice talks, and see what everyone else is working on over lunch, provided by the department. Some seminars are directly related to research students are doing for their degrees, but others are more generally about graduate school and the practice of statistics.

Please note that the seminars are open only to PhD students, Master’s students and postdocs in biostatistics.


Your 2022-2023 Biostatistics Student Seminar Organizing Committee
Izzy Grabski and Cathy Xue


Date: March 2, 2023
Time: 1:00 pm - 1:50 pm
Calendars: Lecture / Seminar


In Person