Epidemiology & Biostatistics: Letter from the Chairman

The Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center consists of a group of professional staff investigators, and a large team of support staff. While the Department is a component of a large specialist hospital devoted to the care of cancer patients, the Department is exclusively engaged in research. Our investigators pursue research designed to better understand the causes of cancer, and strategies for diagnosis, treatment and prevention. They also apply their specialized disciplinary skills to enhance the reach of multidisciplinary research projects on these general topics.

Our investigators initiate research projects in three major areas. First, we develop studies to examine hypotheses regarding factors that may increase the risk of cancer. These epidemiologic investigations encompass putative environmental risks, such as exposures to environmental contaminants, or genetic risks, or both. Currently our investigators are engaged in international studies of this nature in breast cancer, melanoma, and liver cancer. Knowledge of the factors that affect risk frequently lead to opportunities for creating cancer prevention strategies. Our investigators are engaged in large cancer prevention studies in colorectal cancer and melanoma. A second general area of investigation involves the delivery of health services. Here we examine disparities in the broad delivery of health care across the region or the country as a whole. This kind of research offers insight into how the delivery of health care could potentially be improved for large segments of the population who experience inferior access to the best care available. Our investigators have been especially interested in documenting the degree of access of racial minorities and the elderly to high quality cancer care. Finally, we conduct research to try to develop statistical techniques that may improve the way in which cancer research is conducted, and the data analyzed. Here our investigators have a broad range of interests, spanning techniques used in the study of prevention, diagnostic and therapeutic research studies, as well as numerous specialized kinds of statistical analyses in common contemporary usage.

Much contemporary cancer research involves the input of a multi-disciplinary team, each team member bringing an area of specialized expertise to the project. In this Department, our skills are in the area of quantitative methodology. The specialized knowledge represented by our faculty includes the epidemiologic skills needed to construct large scientific investigations, the statistical skills needed to analyze all kinds of data configurations, and the broad quantitative skills for harnessing the information that may exist in large databases. These skills are brought to bear in numerous inter-disciplinary projects throughout the Center that are led by investigators in other departments, but in which our investigators participate as scientific team members. This expertise in quantitative research methodology ensures that our investigators are actively engaged in this broad array of research conducted throughout the Center.

These research projects and the work of the Department in general are supported by a large staff with complementary skills. These include individuals with masters' degrees in biostatistics, epidemiology or data base computing. We are continually seeking staff to build our programs, and to contribute to the important work of the Department and the Center. Information about opportunities for employment in the Department is available by clicking on “Jobs”.

Sincerely,

Colin B. Begg, PhD
Department Chair