At present, the Program has three signature courses: Regression Modeling Strategies, Foundations of Inference, and Statistical Collaboration in Health Sciences. The first will be taught by Professor Harrell, a leading expert in regression modeling strategies and author of the definitive textbook on the subject. The second will be taught by Professor Blume, a leading expert in the foundations of statistical inference and likelihood methods for measuring statistical evidence. The course on statistical collaboration will place a heavy emphasis on communications, teamwork, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Students will role-play with real investigators and face real-life problems such as opaque scientific direction, poor scientific formulation, lack of time, and ill-formulated data. The importance of understanding and learning the science underlying collaborations will be emphasized.
The philosophies inherent in each of the signature courses will be reinforced throughout the individual biostatistics curricula and will set Vanderbilt’s biostatistical education apart. Every course will be required to demonstrate and discuss Bayesian, Likelihood and frequentist inferential approaches to course topics. As well, demonstration and discussion of different regression modeling strategies will be discussed in the context of applications that arise in course examples. Students will be exposed to these concepts in their first-year course sequence of Principles of Modern Biostatistics and Modern Regression Analysis, at a time when they are acquiring the necessary statistical skills for the signature courses.
We expect the critical thinking skills developed in Professor Harrell’s course and the intellectual flexibility and foundational thinking developed in Professor Blume’s course will present an adroit view of modern statistical methods that is neither dogmatic nor rigid. We should note that many graduate programs have created individual courses to address these topics. This leaves students on their own to discover and untangle opaque theoretical discussions that have remained controversial for nearly a century. Our graduates will be encouraged to form and discuss their own viewpoints on these subjects in a succinct and accurate manner.