Q&A with the CHOP Biostatistics and Data Management Core

What is the BDMC?
The Biostatistics and Data Management Core (BDMC) is one of the Cores in CHOP's Research Institute. Under the leadership of Ken Gerald, PhD, the BDMC supports the biostatistical and data management needs of CHOP investigators and supports studies ranging from small, basic science projects to large, multi-site clinical trials.  Since 2008, the BDMC has been operated and supported by Westat, a large health research organization with extensive biostatistics, information technology, and data management capabilities. 

What can a BDMC Biostatistician provide for my project?
Our Biostatisticians provide consultative and analytic support services to investigators interested in basic, pre-clinical, clinical and epidemiological pediatric studies. Some of the services we offer include:

  • Study design
  • Randomization
  • Sample size and power calculations
  • Statistical analysis (planning, data analysis and report writing)
  • Statistical support for grant applications, abstracts and manuscripts

What is Data Management and why is it an important consideration when planning my study?
Data Management consists of a wide range of activities ranging from the development of data collection forms and databases to the creation of datasets that can be used for analysis.  Careful planning and preparation prior to the initiation of a study both reduces costs and ensures the integrity of the data required for analysis.  The outcome of your research depends greatly on how well you manage your data.

What are the most common Data Management services?
The 5 Data Management services most often requested by CHOP researchers are:

  • Database design and development
  • Case Report Form (CRF), survey, and questionnaire development
  • Data cleaning, including query resolution
  • Data entry (single or double data entry)
  • Creation of analytic datasets (in collaboration with the biostatistician)

Can the BDMC build a database for my study?
Yes.  Our database developers have built and maintained REDCap databases for numerous CHOP studies.  Our developers are also proficient in Oracle Clinical database builds for studies with FDA requirement needs.

What if I only need support with one aspect of my study (i.e., statistical analysis, data cleaning, database development, etc.) – is it possible to enlist support based on need only?
Yes. We encounter all types of projects, and the support required for those projects varies greatly. Our services can be separated out and delivered a la carte, if necessary.

Does the BDMC work with the CHOP Biostatistics faculty?
Yes.  In fact, Justine Shults serves as the Biostatistics Faculty Advisor to the BDMC.  BDMC staff collaborate regularly with the CHOP Biostatistics Faculty to assist investigators with grant applications and the design and analysis of research projects.

Several PIs in my department are interested in utilizing BDMC services for their projects.  Is there a way to set up a departmental contract with the BDMC?
Yes.  We can establish a departmental arrangement whereby the BDMC would provide an agreed-upon number of hours over a period of time (e.g., 40 hours per month for one year), which can be used by multiple PIs.  We currently have this type of arrangement with the Division of Cardiology.    

What is the cost for grant submission support? 
If the BDMC is included in the grant's budget, then assistance with the grant submission is offered free of charge.  It is expected that if the BDMC assists with a grant submission, our services will be used during the period of award.  

What free services are available?
BDMC staff offer 1-hour free consultations to CHOP investigators to provide guidance on the statistical approach or data management needs of a project.  Cost estimates are created if additional support is requested.  The BDMC also offers free grant writing assistance as described in the question above.     

What is the Biostatistics Walk-In Clinic?
During our free weekly walk-in clinic, a BDMC biostatistician is available to provide general guidance on projects, and answer questions about protocols or statistical approaches for projects, presentations, abstracts, etc.  Our walk-in clinic is held on Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Roberts Center, 9th floor.  For a consultation, please call a biostatistician upon arrival to the Roberts Center: Xuemei Zhang (51353), Rachel Rogers (51352), or Okan Elci (51354). No appointments are needed.

How would I learn more about using BDMC services?
Complete a contact form on the BDMC website or contact Linda Sprouse at SprouseL@email.chop.edu.