University of Calgary Biostatistics Centre


Biomedical research is becoming more complex with an ever-increasing volume of data (for example clinical data repositories, genomic or tissue data banks), the need to link data from disparate sources, and the increasing complexity of research design. Biostatistics and biostatisticians play a key role within biomedical research as a field of academic study concerned with development of the theory and methodology of data analysis and data science, and their sound application in medicine and health.

The continuing advancement of biomedical science is, of course, accompanied by the need to develop ever more sophisticated statistical methodology for managing, analyzing, and designing studies to collect the resulting data. This is illustrated by the explosion in so-called "big data" and complex data structure problems in areas such as genetics, genomics, neuroimaging, epidemiology, population ecology and many others. Thus, the skills of graduate-level biostatisticians, trained in techniques and research methods on the cutting edge of these scientific advances are in high, and increasing, demand.


The University of Calgary Biostatistics Centre (UCBC), a multi-faculty initiative to be “housed” in the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, under the umbrella of the OIPH’s priority theme “Innovative Tools and Methods for Public Health.” The UCBC remit is to position the University of Calgary as a leader in the development and application of biostatistical methodology for research problems on the cutting edge of biomedical research. Emphasis will be placed on analyzing so-called big data problems, and high-end computational and ‘statistical learning’ techniques (data science), in the context of, many of University’s existing strengths; for example, bioinformatics, genetics, infectious disease epidemiology, kinesiology, population ecology, and clinical trials. To this end, UCBC also has strong links with the Data Science & Analytics group  in the Departments of Mathematics and Statistics and Computer Science.One of the key achievements of the UCBC group is the development of various new graduate training options in biostatistics. First, we now offer interdisciplinary specializations in Biostatistics at the MSc-thesis and PhD levels, jointly administered by the Departments of Community Health Sciences and Mathematics and Statistics; Students completing these specializations will be well positioned to fulfill the enormous demand for biostatisticians in many sectors.

Current Activities:

  1. Creation of a non-thesis Master’s program in Biostatistics (new graduate program)
  2. Summer school in Biostatistics
  3. Networking group for consulting and collaborating UCBC members.

Health Data Science & Biostatistics

The UCBC group, in conjunction with the Data Science & Analytics group, are in the process of introducing Health Data Science & Biostatistics diploma and course-based MSc options, as part of the Professional Course-based Data Science & Analytics graduate training program.

Another proposed deliverable of the UCBC is the elevation and harmonization of the biostatistics education for all graduate students working in areas related to biomedical research. In the past, such students have few opportunities for training in basic biostatistics or data science and management but could greatly benefit from training in biostatistics (for example, the linkage and analysis of metabolomics data and clinical data). This is being facilitated through the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI) funded, Rocky Mountain Data Science Network (RMDSN).

Research & Educational Goals Achieved:

  1. Cross-listing of graduate courses in applied biostatistics in the faculties of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing, Kinesiology, Science and Cumming School of Medicine
  2. Creation of thesis-based degree interdisciplinary specializations in Biostatistics (Master’s, Doctoral) expected to be offered in the Departments of Community Health Sciences and Mathematics and Statistics in the Fall of 2018
  3. Organization of three one-day biostatistics workshops on the topics of missing and incomplete data, causal inference and longitudinal data analysis
  4. Awarded a Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI) Health Sciences Collaborating Centre designation