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MSCI Course Directors & Courses

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Eric D. Austin, MD, MSCI

Program Director, MSCI
Associate Professor, Pediatrics
Director, Vanderbilt Pediatric Pulmonary Hypertension Program

The Case Studies I course is designed to utilize a studio process to enrich trainee research. Studios are structured, dynamic sessions which bring together relevant research experts with the purpose of enhancing research quality, improving funding success, fostering advances in clinical practice and improvements in patient health, increasing publications and generating new hypotheses. Participants include 2-6 experienced faculty, your mentor, your MSCI peers, and the MSCI program directors. You choose the most appropriate studio depending on the stage of your research: hypothesis generation, aims, study design, implementation, analysis and interpretation, translation, manuscript development, or grant development. Presentations should be conducted as if presenting at a research conference. Attendance at peers’ studios is expected as it will foster critical thinking from an interdisciplinary approach, collegiality, and collaboration.

Fall, Spring, Summer [1]

This seminar series, conducted in conjunction with the office of Clinical and Translational Scientist Development, features two pathways based on the trainee’s current career stage: Translational Bridge – Post-doctoral MD and PhD investigators completing training and establishing careers in clinical and translational research; Newman Society – Junior faculty members pursuing a career as a physician-scientist or as a clinical educator with significant clinical research involvement. Topics of discussion will include academic ‘rules of the road’, time management, promotion/tenure issues, publication compliance, independence, scientific branding, grants management, and overall program evaluation. Trainees will also submit a poster abstract to the annual Clinical and Translational Research Forum hosted in the fall. The seminars occur throughout the MSCI matriculation.

Fall, Spring [1]

Trainees will participate in this course throughout the first and second years of the MSCI program. The Master’s Research course, along with the Case Studies series, is designed to guide trainees to the successful completion of the Master’s Final project. All trainees are required to spend a minimum of 80% time in research activities, which include didactic coursework and activities within the mentor’s lab.

Fall, Spring, Summer [2-3]

Trainees will participate in this course throughout the first and second years of the MSCI program. The Master’s Research course, along with the Case Studies series, is designed to guide trainees to the successful completion of the Master’s Final project. All trainees are required to spend a minimum of 80% time in research activities, which include didactic coursework and activities within the mentor’s lab.

Fall, Spring, Summer [3]

Trainees will participate in this course throughout the first and second years of the MSCI program. The Master’s Research course, along with the Case Studies series, is designed to guide trainees to the successful completion of the Master’s Final project. All trainees are required to spend a minimum of 80% time in research activities, which include didactic coursework and activities within the mentor’s lab.

Fall, Spring, Summer [3]

The Case Studies II course provides an opportunity to present and discuss the progress and results of the trainees’ primary MSCI project. In accomplishing this goal, the course utilizes a studio process and/or presentation format. You choose the most appropriate format depending on the stage of your research: presentation, manuscript studio, data analysis studio, or grant review studio. Studios will be conducted in the same manner as in Case Studies I. Presentations should be conducted as if presenting at a research conference. Attendance at peers’ studios is expected as it will foster critical thinking from an interdisciplinary approach, collegiality, and collaboration.

Fall, Spring, Summer [1]


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Daniel W. Byrne, MS

Senior Associate, Biostatistics
Senior Associate, Biomedical Informatics
Senior Associate, Medicine

This course is designed to teach clinical investigators medical and grant writing skills required to publish scientific articles in a peer-reviewed medical journal or to submit a major grant application. Since trainees in the MSCI program are expected to complete their Master’s thesis based on their research project in Year 2, this course is scheduled prior to the deadline to assist students in writing their paper or grant application. Teaching will consist of demonstrations and discussions of how to improve the writing quality using each student’s project-in-progress as an example. Students will be expected to write and revise their Master’s thesis or major grant application as course-work, no additional written assignments will be required.

Summer [2]

This course will teach practical, modern biostatistical skills and help the student to become multilingual regarding statistical software. Students will use several statistical software packages to learn data analysis methods for reproducible research using actual clinical research data sets. Students will also learn about statistical power and sample size calculations using the software PS and nQuery Advisor. An emphasis will be placed on performing statistical analyses and interpreting output. Commonly used statistical methods will be explained as well as the techniques that experienced biostatisticians use to analyze data.

Fall [4]


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Stephany N. Duda, PhD

Associate Professor, Biomedical Informatics

This course is designed to teach important concepts related to research data planning, collection, storage, and dissemination. Instructional material will cover best-practice guidelines for 1) investigator-initiated & sponsored research studies, 2) single- & multi-center studies, and 3) prospective data collection & secondary-reuse of clinical data for purposes of research. The curriculum will balance theoretical guidelines with the use of practical tools designed to assist in planning and conducting research. Real-world research examples, problem-solving exercises, and hands-on training will ensure students are comfortable with all concepts.

Fall, Spring [1]


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Rizwan Hamid, MD, PhD

Professor, Pediatrics
Dorothy Overall Wells Chair, Pediatrics

The main goal of this course is to provide an up to date perspective in genomics as it applies to clinical practice and medical research and thus to enhance knowledge and skills in this rapidly evolving field. This course is designed to give physician and life-scientist trainees an overview of genomic medicine and how best to utilize it in both clinical practice and research projects. The course will introduce students to key concepts in genetics and how these concepts affect genomic data interpretation and study design. Students will learn about a number of approaches that can be used to biologically test these data. The course format will be a mix of interconnected lectures, hands-on workshops, supplemented by online training modules.

Spring [3]


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Catherine M. Hammack-Aviran, MA, JD

Associate in Health Policy
Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society

This course is a systematic examination of the ethical concepts and standards of responsible conduct of research in biomedical science and clinical investigation. Its aim is to provide students with a framework in which to anticipate, identify, analyze, navigate, and resolve ethical questions and conflicts in their professional work and support them in preparing for and conducting independent research and mentoring of others.

Primary objectives: Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Recognize, identify, and analyze questions central to issues in biomedical science and research using established ethical theories and frameworks, relevant professional standards, and law, regulation, and policy on human subjects research; animal research; conflict of interest; data collection, management, and sharing; authorship and publication; peer review; collaboration; and mentor-trainee relations;
  2. Formulate recommendations for promoting responsible conduct and preventing and/or resolving ethical conflict in biomedical science and research, reflecting regulations, formal codes, professional standards, and ethical theories and frameworks as appropriate; and
  3. Identify the appropriate institutional resources for addressing questions related to ethics and integrity in biomedical science and research in academic and nonacademic settings.

Summer [1]


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Frank E. Harrell, PhD

Professor, Biostatistics

The primary focus of Biostatistics II is the multivariable regression model which is the fundamental tool that researchers use for prediction, effect estimation, and hypothesis testing. This course covers the most commonly used regression models (linear, logistic, ordinal, time-to-event, and serial) plus general methods applicable to all regression models such as restricted cubic splines, bootstrapping, multiple imputations for missing data, model diagnostics, and validation. There is an emphasis on aspects related to clinical and translational study design.

Spring [4]


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Paul Harris, PhD, FACMI, FIAHSI

Professor, Biomedical Informatics
Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Professor, Biostatistics

This course is designed to teach important concepts related to research data planning, collection, storage, and dissemination. Instructional material will cover best-practice guidelines for 1) investigator-initiated & sponsored research studies, 2) single- & multi-center studies, and 3) prospective data collection & secondary-reuse of clinical data for purposes of research. The curriculum will balance theoretical guidelines with the use of practical tools designed to assist in planning and conducting research. Real-world research examples, problem-solving exercises, and hands-on training will ensure students are comfortable with all concepts.

Fall, Spring [1]


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T. Alp Ikizler, MD

Professor, Medicine
Catherine McLaughlin Hakim Chair, Vascular Biology
Division Chief, Nephrology
Past Program Director, MSCI

The Case Studies I course is designed to utilize a studio process to enrich trainee research. Studios are structured, dynamic sessions which bring together relevant research experts with the purpose of enhancing research quality, improving funding success, fostering advances in clinical practice and improvements in patient health, increasing publications and generating new hypotheses. Participants include 2-6 experienced faculty, your mentor, your MSCI peers, and the MSCI program directors. You choose the most appropriate studio depending on the stage of your research: hypothesis generation, aims, study design, implementation, analysis and interpretation, translation, manuscript development, or grant development. Presentations should be conducted as if presenting at a research conference. Attendance at peers’ studios is expected as it will foster critical thinking from an interdisciplinary approach, collegiality, and collaboration.

Fall, Spring, Summer [1]

This seminar series, conducted in conjunction with the Office of Clinical and Translational Scientist Development, features two pathways based on the trainee’s current career stage: Translational Bridge – Post-doctoral MD and PhD investigators completing training and establishing careers in clinical and translational research; Newman Society – Junior faculty members pursuing a career as a physician-scientist or as a clinical educator with significant clinical research involvement. Topics of discussion will include academic ‘rules of the road’, time management, promotion/tenure issues, publication compliance, independence, scientific branding, grants management, and overall program evaluation. Trainees will also submit a poster abstract to the annual Clinical and Translational Research Forum hosted in the fall. The seminars occur throughout the MSCI matriculation.

Fall, Spring [1]

Trainees will participate in this course throughout the first and second years of the MSCI program. The Master’s Research course, along with the Case Studies series, is designed to guide trainees to the successful completion of the Master’s Final Project. All trainees are required to spend a minimum of 80% time in research activities, which include didactic coursework and activities within the mentor’s lab.

Fall, Spring, Summer [2-3]

Trainees will participate in this course throughout the first and second years of the MSCI program. The Master’s Research course, along with the Case Studies series, is designed to guide trainees to the successful completion of the Master’s Final Project. All trainees are required to spend a minimum of 80% time in research activities, which include didactic coursework and activities within the mentor’s lab.

Fall, Spring, Summer [3]

Trainees will participate in this course throughout the first and second years of the MSCI program. The Master’s Research course, along with the Case Studies series, is designed to guide trainees to the successful completion of the Master’s Final Project. All trainees are required to spend a minimum of 80% time in research activities, which include didactic coursework and activities within the mentor’s lab.

Fall, Spring, Summer [3]

The Case Studies II course provides an opportunity to present and discuss the progress and results of the trainees’ primary MSCI project. In accomplishing this goal, the course utilizes a studio process and/or presentation format. You choose the most appropriate format depending on the stage of your research: presentation, manuscript studio, data analysis studio, or grant review studio. Studios will be conducted in the same manner as in Case Studies I. Presentations should be conducted as if presenting at a research conference. Attendance at peers’ studios is expected as it will foster critical thinking from an interdisciplinary approach, collegiality, and collaboration.

Fall, Spring, Summer [1]


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J. Matthew Luther, MD, MSCI

Associate Professor, Medicine
Associate Professor, Pharmacology
Co-Director, Vanderbilt Program in Molecular Medicine

This seminar styled course is designed to provide an overview of the drug and device development process and will include issues of drug discovery, pre-clinical drug development, Phase I through IV human testing, device development and the role of the FDA in regulatory affairs. Learning objectives will include: 1. To provide an overview of the drug development process from initial compound discovery, through clinical trials, to post-marketing issues; 2. To provide an overview of device development, and to contrast this to the process of drug development; 3. To provide some insight into the function of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA); 4. To discuss topical issues related to drugs, devices, and the FDA by using current events in the news.

Summer [3]


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Karel G. M. Moons, PhD

Julius Center Research Program Methodology
Utrecht University, Netherlands

Introduction to epidemiology with an emphasis on clinical practice. Includes use of data to study disease etiology, prognosis, and treatment. concepts of interpreting tests, predicting outcomes, choosing treatments and reading medical literature emphasized.

Fall [4]


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Yu Shyr, PhD

Professor & Chair, Biostatistics
Professor, Biomedical Informatics
Professor, Health Policy
Harold L. Moses Chair, Cancer Research

This course will cover design and data analysis for clinical trials in biomedical research. Primary topics include specification of study objectives, design options, ethical guidelines, randomization, blinding, sample size determination and power analysis, interim monitoring and data analysis appropriate for parallel, crossover, nested, factorial and group allocation designs. Other topics include the role of FDA in the drug approval process, adaptive trial designs, non-inferiority trials, and bio-equivalence trials. Emphasis is on the practical use of methods rather than formal statistical theory.

Fall [3]


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Thomas G. Stewart, PhD

Assistant Professor, Biostatistics

The primary focus of Biostatistics II is the multivariable regression model which is the fundamental tool that researchers use for prediction, effect estimation, and hypothesis testing. This course covers the most commonly used regression models (linear, logistic, ordinal, time-to-event, and serial) plus general methods applicable to all regression models such as restricted cubic splines, bootstrapping, multiple imputations for missing data, model diagnostics, and validation. There is an emphasis on aspects related to clinical and translational study design.

Spring [4]