Randi Foraker, PhD, MA, FAHA, FAMIA, FACMI

Interim Director of the Division of Biostatistics

Dr. Foraker began her tenure as the interim director of the Division of Biostatistics in August, 2022. She has been a leader in Washington University’s Institute for Informatics since 2017 and her interim leadership of the Division of Biostatistics represents the kind of administrative and programmatic alignment that was envisioned with the 2019 merger of the Division of Biostatistics with the Institute for Informatics under the umbrella of the Office of Health Information and Data Science.

Mission and organization of the Division of Biostatistics

The Division of Biostatistics is a medical school-wide facility that engages in research, biostatistical consultation, teaching and training. Its academic mission centers around biostatistical excellence in clinical, epidemiological, and genetic studies. Its faculty possess superior leadership skills in a variety of areas including clinical trials, cardiovascular biostatistics, multicenter study coordination, family and genetic studies of human diseases, computing, and statistical packages. The Division is well-equipped to provide assistance at the stage of preparing grant applications, including careful discussions of study design, sample size calculations, randomization schemes, computer resources and data analysis. Biostatistical consultation represents an important activity of the division, providing expertise in all these areas on a fee for service basis.

The teaching and training component of the Division’s mission is centered around a multi-disciplinary graduate training program in biostatistics, which provides training in biostatistics, genetic epidemiology, statistical genetics, and bioinformatics. The program was launched in 2011 with a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Biostatistics (MSIBS), which includes internship, statistical consulting lab, and an optional thesis. The “Genetic Epidemiology Masters of Science” (GEMS) program which has been offered since 2002 has been integrated into the MSIBS program. The Division leads a post-doctoral training program in genetic epidemiology and a PRIDE summer institute program (Program to Increase Diversity among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research).

The Division’s research activities include collaborative projects with various departments of the Medical School, as well as independently funded multicenter epidemiological and family studies. They span a wide range of topics dealing with a number of diseases of considerable public health importance. Core research programs of the Division include genetic epidemiology, especially as it relates to genetic modeling of human diseases with particular emphasis on cardiovascular diseases and statistical modeling for Alzheimer’s disease and neuroimaging data. Present collaborative research projects include: a multicenter family study to assess the genetic basis of response to exercise training (HERITAGE), a multicenter NETWORK study on the genetics of hypertension (HyperGEN), a large multi-ethnic Family Blood Pressure Program (FBPP), a family and genetic study of salt sensitivity of blood pressure (GenSalt), a multi-ethnic study of gene-lifestyle interactions in cardiovascular traits (Gene-Lifestyle).

Research resources and collaborative research programs include Biostatistics Core Resources in studies of Alzheimer’s disease, the Washington University Institute of Clinical Sciences, and the Washington University Kennedy Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. Other research programs for which we serve or have served as data management and/or a coordinating component include the study of onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis (DOLF), the Silent Infart Transfusion (SIT), Study, Childhood Obesity (COMPASS) Study, Treatment of Anti-HLA Antibodies to Prevent BOS after Lung Transplant (HALT), the Minority Action Plan (DACC), and the Pride Coordination Core.