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Are you an undergraduate student who would like to gain hands-on experience in analyzing data collected from biomedical studies to help prevent and treat various diseases? Are you curious about career options and graduate degree opportunities in biostatistics and biomedical data science? If so, UCI is now accepting applications for its new Irvine Summer Institute in Biostatistics and Undergraduate Data Science (ISI-BUDS).

UCI is one of only 10 universities in the nation offering this free six-week summer training course that includes up to $500 in travel expenses, free housing and a meal plan (or a $2,500 stipend), and $600 for incidental expenses. Sponsored jointly by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the program is part of an effort to “address a growing imbalance between the demand and supply for biostatisticians and data scientists.”

Cutting-Edge Biomedical Research
Offered through the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS), ISI-BUDS will highlight applications in cutting-edge biomedical research while training students in the fundamentals of biostatistics, data science and computing. Students will learn, among other things, how to design and analyze clinical trials; model infectious disease dynamics; and analyze big data in genomics, transcriptomics and imaging. The program will conclude with a team project, and students will present their work at a mini-symposium with keynote lectures and a poster session.

Vladimir Minin
Vladimir Minin

“The goal is to excite mathematically inclined students about careers in biostatistics and biomedical data science,” says Statistics Professor Vladimir Minin, who is co-directing the program with ICS colleagues Dan GillenBabak Shahbaba and Mine Dogucu. “We will offer a combination of classes, teaching statistics and data science as well as offering career mentorship and preparedness, which is why we end with a short research project mentored by a statistician and a biomedical or clinical scientist.”

Dan Gillen headshot
Dan Gillen

Minin stresses that UCI is the perfect place to practice such interdisciplinary work, given the unique nature of ICS, which houses the Computer Science and Informatics Departments in addition to Statistics. The school is also home to one of the first undergraduate data science degree programs in the nation. In addition, Minin is associate director of the Infectious Disease Science Initiative; Shahbaba is director of the Data Science Initiative; and Gillen directs the Statistics, Machine Learning, and AI Research Technologies (SMART) core in the newly established Institute for Precision Health – all of which are hubs of data-driven research at UCI. Members of the Center for Complex Biological Systems, and faculty from the department of Biomedical Engineering and the School of Public Health, will also be participating in the ISI-BUDS research educational activities.

Babak Shahbaba
Babak Shahbaba

Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
ISI-BUDS will leverage existing UCI programs (such as CAMP) and infrastructure to improve diversity and inclusion in biostatistics and in the biomedical data sciences profession. “We want to attract a diverse population of students to this program, including from historically excluded groups,” says Minin. “We plan to host a small boot camp a few days before the institute starts to ensure students are well prepared for the institute activities when they come.”

Mine Dogucu
Mine Dogucu

If you are interested in joining the cohort of approximately 20 students who will participate in this summer 2022 program, running from July 11 through Aug. 18, submit your application by May 1, 2022. Results will be announced May 15.

With funding secured for at least five years — and the potential for continued renewal — the UCI community looks forward to welcoming students to the ISI-BUDS program not only this year but for many summers to come.

— Shani Murray