SARChI Chair in Biostatistics to address public health issues

Posted on September 13, 2018

A Research Chair in Biostatistics, which will focus on solving inter-disciplinary health problems in Africa, such as tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS, cancer, substance abuse and Ebola, was launched recently at the University of Pretoria. 

The Chair is sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology, the National Research Foundation, the South African Medical Research Council, and the South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI).

Headed by Prof Ding-Geng Chen, of UP’s Department of Statistics, the SARChI Chair aims to develop biostatistics methodologies for designing and building research foundations for health research and interventions. “This entails working on systemised research design and biostatistical data analytics in randomised clinical trials and public health interventions,” Prof Chen explains. “Biostatistics aims to develop mathematical and statistical methodologies along with computations to solve problems in human health and disease to advance public health.”

Biostatistics has contributed significantly to public health and governmental policy decision-making through various methodological developments and applications in academia, governmental health agencies and the pharmaceutical and biomedical industries. However, continuing development is needed, and the Chair will strengthen biostatistics in South Africa.

As a Chair in Biostatistics, Prof Chen will lead the development of the South African research team, including faculty members, post-doctorate fellows and graduate students, through advanced biostatistical training and research. This is an effort to support and reshape innovative biostatistical collaborations, teaching and research.

Prof Andriëtte Bekker, Head of the Department of Statistics, says, “Prof Chen will build on his 30 years of experience in biostatistical research to develop an internationally collaborative biostatistical research programme at the University, in partnership with the Faculty of Health Sciences, the SARChI Chair of Sustainable Malaria Control, and the SARChI Chair in Mathematical Models and Methods in Bioengineering and Biosciences. This research programme will also include partnerships with individual researchers from the University, as well as other universities in South Africa.”

From left to right: Prof Jean Lubuma, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Prof Stephanie Burton, Vice-Principal: Research and Postgraduate Education, Prof Tiaan de Jager, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, and Prof Ding-Geng Chen at the launch of the Chair

- Author Department of University Relations

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