Research Continues to Thrive at NCRC: Interview with Dr. Mousumi Banerjee

Collaborative spaces at IHPI promote research productivity and new linkages

1.       Please tell us about your research role in the Center for Healthcare Outcomes & Policy (CHOP) group of the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation (IHPI).

I serve as Director of Biostatistics in the CHOP group of IHPI. In that role, I collaborate with faculty members in CHOP on research design, measurement issues, and statistical analysis of various health services and outcomes research projects. I also direct the analysts’ group in CHOP that comprises Master's level statisticians and programmers. Earlier in my career, my focus was on cancer health services and outcomes research, and although that continues to be my primary interest, through my role in CHOP my interests have broadened to encompass other diseases.


2.       Are there other groups that your involvement in CHOP has allowed you to collaborate with and how valuable have they been?

At the time I joined CHOP, I was mostly collaborating with Department of Surgery faculty members specializing in cancer health services research (HSR). At the CHOP weekly seminar series I started meeting and interacting with researchers outside Surgery. These interactions have been valuable and have led to collaborations on grant applications, manuscripts, and other informal initiatives. Now I collaborate with several faculty members in Urology and Internal Medicine who have broader HSR interests beyond cancer. Our physical proximity in building 16 of NCRC has helped in this regard since it is very easy to walk across the hallway or up a flight of stairs and bounce off ideas.


3.       Do you work with students and how has the formation of IHPI at NCRC furthered the educational mission?

My primary faculty appointment is in the Department of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health. In that role, I serve as advisor for several graduate students in Biostatistics. These students work with me on various projects where the principal investigator is a clinician/IHPI faculty member. As a result, the students now have an opportunity to interact with clinical faculty members through meetings and project work. This interaction helps them to develop skills in applied research, and takes them beyond what they learn as part of graduate coursework. Often times, this experience helps them appreciate that it is essential to first understand the scientific question before plunging into statistical modeling. It also helps them to develop effective communication skills when working with non-statisticians.


I run a monthly journal club here at NCRC on Quantitative Methods in Health Services Research that is attended by a wide range of audiences including the CHOP analysts, fellows and some faculty members, as well as several researchers across other IHPI units. I am also involved in the training of the Surgery fellows at CHOP specifically on issues related to study design and statistical analysis of their projects.


4.       How has the physical set-up of IHPI at NCRC proved to be beneficial to your research?

The physical set-up of IHPI at NCRC has been extremely beneficial to me in terms of spontaneous research discussions/collaborations. The fact that all my collaborators are housed in the same building makes it very easy to schedule meetings, hold impromptu discussions, and often exchange ideas in informal hallway conversations. This has been a blessing for me, because in the past I would shuttle between the School of Public Health, the Cancer Center, North Ingalls Building, and the downtown MSCORE facility for meetings and seminars. The meeting rooms here at NCRC, equipped with outstanding technology, definitely enhances the quality of the meetings.