VCU Establishes First Biostatistics Consulting Laboratory

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The VCU C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research (Wright CCTR) is proud to support the creation of the Biostatistics Consulting Laboratory (BCL) at VCU. The BCL offers assistance with study design, data analysis, and biostatistical education services free of charge to members of VCU and VCU Health System. It will complement the biostatistics services already offered by the Center by allowing Wright CCTR biostatisticians more flexibility to keep up with the ever-growing demand for their services.

The BCL is a recently launched student-led organization that is housed with the VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Biostatistics. It offers statistical assistance for clients across the university while simultaneously providing students with the ability to receive first-hand consulting experience, a career-critical skill.

“The communication of statistical results is extremely important, because even the best projects can fall through if the results are not conveyed in a meaningful manner,” said Adam Sima, Ph.D., biostatistician for the Wright CCTR’s Research Innovator and supervisor of the BCL. “Teaching the next generation of biostatisticians this valuable skill is important for both their job prospects as they graduate, but also for their professional development. We aim to not only produce statistical products that are requested by investigators, but to communicate these results as effectively as possible so the investigators can use the results to further the translational aspect of their research.”

The lab will be primarily run by five BCL assistants and two BCL associates: Brian DiPace, a 3rd year Ph.D. student and winner of the VCU Biopharmaceutical Applied Statistics Scholarship and the Karl E. Peace Biostatistics Award for Excellence and Scholarship; and Viviana Alejandra Rodriguez, 2nd year Ph.D. student and Fulbright Foreign Student Program scholar from Colombia’s Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.

“I am looking forwarding to seeing how we conduct the BCL at VCU so I can eventually bring back the mechanisms and administrative policies to my institution in Colombia,” said Rodriguez.

In addition to research assistance, VCU faculty often receive requests for introductory lectures on biostatistics, a service the BCL will now be able to offer on its website.

“I think it’s important that the VCU community knows not only about the research aspect of the BCL, but also of the educational assistance we can provide,” said DiPace. “Graduates students can now offer lectures and seminars through the lab, something that hasn’t been offered in the past.”

To learn more about the BCL and request research or education assistance, visit

Software used in the BCL’s effort is partially supported by CTSA award No. UL1TR000058 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

Adam Sima, Ph.D.
Brian DiPace
Viviana Alejandra Rodriguez




Dr. S. Esra Sahingur Presents Periodontitis Research at West Hospital


S. Esra Sahingur, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Periodontics for the VCU School of Dentistry and former Center for Clinical and Translation Research (CCTR) KL2 scholar, gave a presentation titled, “A New Paradigm in the Pathogenesis of Periodontitis: Intracellular Innate Sensors and Emerging Therapeutic Targets,” at the West Hospital’s Cardiology Conference Room on Wednesday, Dec. 2.

An R01 grant-recipient, Sahingur is studying the cause of periodontitis, an inflammation of gums that can lead to tooth loss and additional health complications if not treated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47.2% of U.S. adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease.

Click here to learn more about Sahingur’s research and R01 grant.


First image up top: S. Esra Sahingur, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Periodontics for the VCU School of Dentistry and former Center for Clinical and Translation Research (CCTR) KL2 scholar

CCTR Hosts First “Student Short Talks” Presentation


The VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR) held it’s first “Student Short Talks” session on Wednesday, Nov. 18 and Thursday, Nov. 19 in the Richmond Academy of Medicine’s main conference room. The event, hosted by Teraya Donaldson, Ph.D., assistant director of education programs for CCTR’s Education Core, was open to first year and pre-qualifying research students who presented a 10-minute PowerPoint on their rotation or research projects.

“The Short Talks was an opportunity to learn about the diverse research of our CCTR graduate students,” said Donaldson. “It was wonderful having faculty and senior-level students to support this burgeoning group of scientists.”

The following students participated in the “Student Short Talks” presentation:

Wednesday, November 18th

  • Kranthi Chougoni – “Investigating the Role of Sepiapterin in the Inhibition of EMT in Colorectal Cancer Derived Tumor Spheroids.”
  • Audra Iness – “Ivabradine & Inotrope Combination in Doxorubicin-Induced Cardiomyopathy.”
  • Alex Azzo – “Epigenetic Regulators of Fetal γ-Globin Expression.”
  • Eiman Aboaziza – “Effects of Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking on DNA methylation.”

Thursday, November 19th

  • Fatmata Sesay – “Quantitative Imaging of Dense Tumor Stromal Collagen in a Rat Model of Desmoplastic Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma.”
  • Janina Vaitkus – “Role of Adipose Tissue Browning in Cancer-Associated Cachexia.”
  • Jared Farrar – “Inter-Individual Variability in the Adaptive Thermogenesis Response.”
  • Joseph Lownik – “Role of ADAM10 and ADAM17 in Asthmatic Disease.”
  • Ula Warncke – “Exploring Interaction Between Cancer and Fat Cells by Measuring UCP1 Level.”
  • Justin Craig – “HDAC6 is a Key Regulatory Element Governing Transcription Mediated by the PRLr/Stat5 Complex in Human Breast Cancer.”

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