Genome Science Training Program Student Handbook
Driven by large-scale initiatives such as the Human Genome, ENCODE, Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx), Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), Centers for Common Disease Genomics (CCDG), Centers for Mendelian Genomics (CMG), TOPMed, and Human Microbiome Projects, genomics has taken a central role in the biomedical sciences. At the same time, advances in computation are driving the mathematical sciences forward. These factors, the increasingly quantitative nature of biomedical research, the explosive growth of genomic data, and the appreciation of the importance of big data and data science have resulted in a rapidly increasing demand for individuals trained at the interface of genomics and the mathematical sciences. The successful translation of genomic data to address questions of human health and disease requires individuals trained at this interface. At the same time, there is a severe shortage of individuals with this training. The focus on big data and data science in biomedicine is expanding this need further. Strong, quantitatively focused potential trainees are in extraordinary demand in competing areas, notably in business and finance.
The UM GSTP is one of the first NHGRI-funded T32s. Now in its 25th year of continuous funding, the GSTP has trained 122 individuals. The GSTP seeks to address the aforementioned challenges by training predoctoral and postdoctoral scholars at the interface of genomics and the mathematical sciences, with particular emphasis on statistical genomicists, genomic epidemiologists, bioinformaticians, data scientists, and molecular genomicists with strong training in statistics and computation. Since only a relative handful of individuals are trained in these areas each year, this shortage is now even more acute. Graduates of the GSTP will continue to help fill the need for such individuals, and so help the NHGRI achieve its goals of translation of genome research into advances in understanding the genetic basis of human health and disease. The fundamental premise of the GSTP is that graduates should have substantial training in the mathematical sciences, the biological sciences, and at their interface. This training facilitates communication between disciplines, identification of important problems, and identification of the mathematical and computational tools required to solve those problems. Graduates are well-trained statistical genomicists, bioinformaticians, data scientists, molecular genomicists, or genomic epidemiologists well versed in statistics and computation who take positions in academis, government, or industry.
The University of Michigan is one of the nation's great public institutions of higher education, and has for many years been a leader in genetics, genomics, and the mathematical sciences. Faculty members in the Departments of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Bioinformatics are involved in research and training in statistical, computational, and molecular genetics. Faculty in the Departments of Biological Chemistry, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Health Sciences, Microbiology and Immunology, Nutritional Sciences and Statistics also are involved in this activity (see faculty). Most teaching at the University is done during a two-semester academic year running from early September through late April. Graduate programs at the University are administered through the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.
The Department of Biostatistics was established in 1959 in the School of Public Health and grew to prominence starting in 1971 under the leadership of Richard Cornell. Department research emphasizes the development of statistical methods and computational tools and their application to biomedicine. The Department has a strong research focus in genetics and genomics. Other Department methods strengths include computational statistics and big data; survival and longitudinal data; clinical trials; non- and semiparametric modeling; Bayesian methods; analysis of sample surveys; and analysis with missing data. Other substantive research areas include epidemiology, cancer, gerontology, organ failure and transplantation, diabetes, ophthalmology, and imaging. The Department is home to the UM Center for Statistical Genetics, directed by GSTP Director Michael Boehnke.
The Department of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health was established in 1941 by Thomas Francis Jr. The Department practices epidemiology as a broad scientific discipline addressing the causes of health and disease in populations, integrating causal concepts at the molecular, cellular, environmental, medical, and social levels. The Department has a strong commitment to research and training in genetic epidemiology. Other department research foci include infectious disease, chronic disease, molecular epidemiology, social epidemiology, psychiatric epidemiology, global health, environmental and occupational health, reproductive, perinatal, and pediatric health, and epidemiologic modeling and methods.
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