TiCER's ultimate goal is to identify, understand, and reduce adverse environmental health risks for individuals and populations. To accomplish this goal, TiCER scientists must navigate challenges of data collection, storage, analysis, and integration. The DSFC exists to support these needs by providing access to data science experts and resources available at Texas A&M in three areas: toxicological data sciences, bio-statistics, and biological data sciences. The need for data science services is a requirement across many environmental health research projects, therefore the DSFC is closely entwined with all other Facility Cores.
The Members of the DSFC Have a Track Record of Innovative Data Science Research and Applications.
THROUGH THE DSFC, CENTER MEMBERS HAVE ACCESS TO CUTTING-EDGE RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES THAT IMPROVE EXISTING EXPERIMENTAL APPROACHES
The components of the DSFC are organized to facilitate broad Core utilization across the Center. The DSFC will uses a business model that combines fully supported Core administration, data infrastructure, and initial consultations, along with partial support for project-specific services.
Administration of the DSFC is the responsibility of Drs. Chiu (Core Director) and Carroll, (Deputy Director). They provide overall management of the DSFC and are responsible for decision-making regarding project support. They also provide guidance to staff on data science methods and approaches.
DSFC Operations Process
DSFC operations consists of a decision process for investigator-initiated service requests on a monthly cycle, and a set of organizational/coordination/reporting tasks on monthly, quarterly, or annual cycles. The decision process for service requests includes the following steps:
A PI will submit an online request for DSFC services through the Center website linked to the Project Management and Tracking System. Request forms will require contact and billing data, and will include a request for responses to Data Science-centric questions that will help the Core understand the goals and expectations of a new project or user. These will include the scientific question being posed, the technical details of the proposed project, and the relevance of the research to environmental health sciences research and to Center themes. The request form will also identify a preferred DSFC point of contact (POC).
The Director and/or Deputy Director will perform an initial triage of the request form. If the request is clearly outside the scope of the Center, then it will be immediately rejected. Otherwise, a suitable DSFC POC will be identified and the request forwarded to him/her to set up an initial consultation with the PI.
An initial consultation meeting will be scheduled between the DSFC POC and the requesting PI to determine the appropriate avenue of DSFC support to the PI. This meeting will help establish the level of DSFC utilization requested, including any training needs and new methods development. There are three possible outcomes: request for subsidized DSFC support, request for small-effort DSFC support, or cancellation of the request.
Monthly Review of Requests
Prior to allocating support from DSFC, the Core Director and Deputy Director will review all requests on a monthly basis. Requests will be prioritized for funding based on several key factors, including: (a) environmental health and Center thematic relevance; (b) appropriate use of DSFC resources; (c) availability of expertise; and (d) availability of funds.
The DSFC Director and Deputy Director will make the final decision regarding funding of service requests. Requests may be approved, denied, or deferred to a later cycle. The highest priority requests will be approved subject to funds availability. Deferred requests will be eligible for consideration in a later cycle, and the investigator will have the option to revise the initial service request. Requests that are low priority will generally be denied.
The DSFC Provides State-of-the-Art Computational Toxicology Modeling Services
Bioinformatics and the DSFC
The DSFC will provide this guidance to facilitate robust bioinformatics analyses and workflows, as well as provide resources for development of novel bioinformatics methods. DSFC personnel are experienced in the design and implementation of software solutions and computational pipelines to biological problems, and will provide computational biology and bioinformatics programming support to assist research faculty, staff, and students with management and analysis of genomic and other biological data.
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