January 12, 2023

New Family Medicine research group provides quantitative data to support scientific and clinical faculty

The newly launched Quantitative Training, Research and Analysis Core (QTRAC) will support faculty-led research projects.

The Quantitative Training, Research and Analysis Core (QTRAC) was recently established to support research projects originating in the Department of Family Medicine.

Biostatistics, the quantitative analysis and design of biomedical projects, has increasingly been used to provide insights into the effectiveness of care in the family medicine context. For example, the quantitative analytic approach is useful for a wide range of studies such as identifying cancer biomarkers or assessing the effectiveness of patient screening tools.

Medical researchers may have received introductory training in biostatistics, but they may not have extensive experience using these approaches for research interpretation. The biostatistics approach can be complex, but when used appropriately, can help empower important analytical insight sometimes hidden in the data.

Ananda Sen, Ph.D.
Ananda Sen, PhD

“What we can do (as researchers) is always limited by the data we gather,” said Ananda Sen, Ph.D., director of QTRAC and the Lee A. Green Collegiate research professor in the Department of Family Medicine (DFM) at the University of Michigan. Sen is also a professor in U-M’s Department of Biostatistics.

“There needs to be a way to extrapolate the findings of a study to the population of interest,” he added. “Statistics makes that connection. You collect the data, but what do the numbers tell you? Biostatistical techniques help in analyzing the data and drawing conclusions from it. But nothing works in a vacuum. It is a mutual learning process. As statistics attempts to make sense of the findings, it cannot do that without a proper clinical context. I see it as a tremendously collaborative tool that helps advance medical science.”

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QTRAC was established in 2022 to support DFM faculty looking to add more analytic power to their research. But QTRAC does more than helping faculty. It also directly contributes to the educational mission of the department by helping trainees such as post-doctoral fellows, students/residents and staff in quantitative research projects.

Specifically, QTRAC provides the following services:

  • Expertise for the overall development of internal and external grant proposals by crafting a plan for designing and testing quantitative objectives.
  • Support in the acquisition and management of quantitative data for a research project generated from a funded proposal.
  • Analysis for funded and unfunded projects (specifically those supporting the departmental research mission) and assistance in dissemination of findings by collaborating on resulting manuscripts and conference presentations.
  • Training and mentorship of DFM faculty, students/residents, post-doctoral fellows, and staff. 

Other members of the consultative team include Research Data Manager Yuhong Zhang and Statisticians Dongru Chen and Beatrice Palazzolo.

Department of Family Medicine-affiliated researchers can request QTRAC staff assistance by accessing the request form here

“I want to make it known that we are here to help serve and collaborate,” Sen said. “The idea is to support the education and research mission of the Department of Family Medicine. QTRAC should be a conduit for that.”