Dierker Awarded $1M from National Institutes of Health


Posted 01/15/08
Lisa Dierker, associate professor of psychology, has received a $1 million National Institutes of Health grant to develop a new statistical method that will move past standard approaches to provide more sensitive ways to evaluate both the etiology and clinical course of mental and physical health outcomes.

Numerous statistical methods used in longitudinal health research help make sense of mountains of complex data and aid researchers in uncovering important associations that can inform health care.

Dierker, pictured at right, and Runze Li, associate professor of statistics at Pennsylvania State University, are principal investigators on the grant, which is a NIH Roadmap initiative aimed at stimulating interdisciplinary research teams, and reshaping clinical research to accelerate medical discovery and improve people’s health. Dierker and Li are proposing a new class of statistical models that, unlike those traditionally used in health research, will allow for analysis of intensive longitudinal data.

These new models possess many valuable features which make them the most appropriate for addressing critical questions regarding the development of disease and disability as well as factors that influence their clinical course. Specifically, the proposed new models will better allow researchers to understand complex effects that vary over time and change across individual subjects.

“We will propose estimation procedures for the new models, and develop software to implement them. Initially, we plan to apply the proposed procedures to extant data focused on 1) the etiology of drug use and 2) the clinical course of asthma,” Dierker says.

Out of the $1 million grant funds, $240,000 will be going directly to Wesleyan for the four-year interdisciplinary project.

By Corrie Kerr, associate director of Media Relations