About the Institute for Translational Epidemiology
The mission of the Institute for Translational Epidemiology is to establish an institute of international excellence in epidemiologic research, that will build on the strengths of Mount Sinai in clinical and preventive research.
Over the last decades, epidemiologic research has successfully identified the main lifestyle and environmental risk factors of chronic diseases. Observational research is key in establishing causal associations in medicine, when experimental studies are not feasible for ethical or logistical reasons. Recently, genome-wide association studies have contributed to the identification of variants contributing to the individual susceptibility to disease. A major challenge of epidemiologic research rests in the elucidation of the separate and combined effects of genetic, biochemical and lifestyle risk factors of chronic diseases and outcome determinants.
In recent years, emphasis in epidemiologic research has shifted from etiologic to clinical research. A reliable characterization of detailed features of epidemiologic relationships would have important implications for the understanding, and prevention of diseases and their outcome. Such features include:
- the shape of any dose-effect relation (or, for genetic variants, modes of inheritance);
- the magnitude of the associations under different circumstances (such as in clinically and biologically relevant subgroups, e.g., people at different ages, men vs. women, people with different biomarker levels, smokers vs. nonsmokers, those with different dietary habits);
- effect-modification by characteristics related to genetic, biomarker and/or lifestyle factors
These goals would be best attained through large-scale, international collaborative studies.
One important feature of epidemiologic and prevention research on chronic diseases is that many features are shared between different types of diseases. Not only risk factors, such as tobacco, overweight/obesity, environmental pollutants, contribute to the etiology of different groups of chronic diseases, but the main tools of epidemiologic research, such as prospective cohort studies, are ideally suited to study several chronic outcomes in parallel. Epidemiologic research has increasingly become an interdisciplinary enterprise, leading to the incorporation of tools and approaches from molecular biology, genetics and pathology. The presence of several world-class clinical and research programs at Mount Sinai makes it an ideal setting to establish a strong epidemiology research program, to complement existing clinical and preventive activities.
Center for Biostatistics
Biostatistics plays an important role in epidemiologic research, providing the foundations of study design, data collection, data analysis, and interpretation. Recognizing the close ties and natural connection between epidemiology and biostatistics; the Center for Biostatistics in the Department of Health Evidence and Policy, has partnered with the Institute for Translational Epidemiology to offer statistical expertise in research study design, conduct, analysis, interpretation, and reporting of results to its members and affiliates. Through this active collaboration, the Institute will better promote successful clinical and translational research at the Mount Sinai by providing to state-of-the-art statistical support to clinical colleagues.
The research program of the Institute for Translational Epidemiology would have a number of specific features.
- It builds on existing strengths in clinical research at Mount Sinai, with emphasis on interdisciplinary projects in which a clinical epidemiologic approach would provide a unique contribution.
- It integrates strong expertise in biostatistics represented by the Center for Biostatistics to enhance other research at Mount Sinai.
- It promotes integration of molecular methods derived from genetics, pathology and molecular biology into epidemiological studies.
- It is based on state-of-the-art methodology in epidemiologic research, in collaboration with the Departments of Preventive Medicine and of Health Evidence and Policy.
- It has a strong international outlook, which takes advantage of heterogeneity in distribution of lifestyle, biochemical and genetic risk factors of chronic diseases in different populations of patients.
- It conducts community-based research to address the effect of health services and public health policy on the health of populations, in particular those directly served by Mount Sinai.
- It is involved in long-term longitudinal studies, with a combination of clinical, observational and intervention projects.
Statistical Advisory Service
In collaboration with Mount Sinai’s Conduits – Institute for Translational Sciences' Biostatistics, Ethics, and Research Design (BERD) core; the Institute offers short term statistical consultation through a Statistical Advisory Service. This service, directed by Dr. James Godbold, provides a one hour free statistical consultation. The service addresses a variety of common investigator needs including data analysis, sample size calculations, help in drafting and revising manuscripts and presentations. Those investigators seeking assistance related to grant are encouraged to make contact early, at least one month prior to the deadline and ideally earlier. If longer term collaborations are required, arrangements should be made with the Center for Biostatistics.
In addition to its research program, the Institute is involved in training future generations of health researchers in epidemiology and biostatistics and assist junior faculty in launching careers in clinical research. The Institute’s expansion of and focus on translational, cross-disciplinary work provides opportunities for students earning a master’s in public health and a master’s of science, and for students in the recently established PhD program in clinical research. The Institute welcomes the participation of fellows and junior faculty throughout the school who are seeking involvement in clinical and epidemiologic research. In addition to offering research opportunities, the Institute supplies the administrative and logistical resources needed to foster successful research projects.