USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

An NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Data Science Core

The mission of the Data Science Core of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center (USC Norris) is to provide integrated state-of-the-art biostatistics and informatics support to USC Norris investigators working on all aspects of cancer research from basic science to translational and clinical studies, and cancer etiology to cancer control.  The Data Science Core members work with USC Norris investigators on the planning, design, conduct, analysis, and reporting of cancer research studies. Core members also play a key role in clinical trials protocol review and study monitoring at USC Norris.

DSC Services

      • Collaborate in design of laboratory, clinical, and population studies.
      • Ensure the proper conduct of clinical trials and the integrity of the data collected.
      • Perform and assist in data capture, data wrangling, and data management.
      • Create websites, recruitment tracking solutions, biospecimen inventory management tools, and cohort identification solutions.
      • Perform complex statistical analyses.
      • Develop statistical designs and analytic plans in support of grant applications.
      • Contribute as coauthors and co-Is on manuscripts and grant applications.
      • Implement and develop reports for clinical trials in clinical trials management systems.
      • Generate identified and deidentified data sets for population studies.
      • Perform custom programming for websites, data unification, and cluster computing

DSC Policies and Procedures

Scope: The mission of the Data Science Core (DSC) is to provide consultation and support for research project design, informatics, data wrangling, and data analysis for cancer-focused peer-reviewed grant applications, cancer-focused clinical trials, and cancer-related research projects. See full list of services above.  Individuals requesting services for non-cancer related research should contact the SC CTSI using this link:          

Process: The DSC website serves as the entry point for DSC activities and all NCCC members are required to use the system to submit service requests

    1. Once a service request is registered in the system, the DSC director gets a “project request notification” and schedules a meeting with the PI to briefly discuss the project
    2. An initial meeting of up to one hour to determine the feasibility and scope of a project will be scheduled. The anticipated outputs of the initial consultation period will be a feasibility assessment, project scope, and project plan including cost estimate and timeline. Once the project plan is developed and agreed upon, all further activities will generate Core charges
    3. After the initial meeting, the DSC Director will triage the project to DSC members with matching expertise
    4. Project turnaround timeframes are set at the start of a project and are met with high adherence. The DSC Director will communicate directly and regularly with the DSC user regarding project progress and expected completion. If additional tasks are needed, these will be specified, documented and new estimated hours and charges will be agreed upon.
    5. Investigators seeking help should contact the DSC:
      1. NIH P series, U series, and SPORE grants (and similar sized foundation grants): 4 months prior to deadline
      2. R series and K series grants (and similar sized foundation grants): 2 months prior to deadline
      3. Data analysis for manuscript or abstract submission: 1 month prior to deadline

Grant Application/Development Support:

    1. Letters of Support
      1. DSC will provide a copy of their standard letter of support detailing the biostatistical and informatics services available at USC Norris at no charge to the Core User
      2. If a more detailed, specific letter is needed, the work will be done as part of the Grant Feasibility/Development Phase
    2. Grant Feasibility/Development Phase
      1. DSC will provide the Core User with an estimated amount of time needed for each grant application following the above timelines outlined in section 5.
      2. USC Non-Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center full members will be billed through the USC FBS System at the hourly rate of $ 150 for grant application support.
      3. For Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center (NCCC) full members only, DSC will provide up to 1 hour of support at no charge to each NCCC full member Core User per grant application/grant development.
        1. The NCCC full member Core User agrees to include effort for the DSC Core Director and/or a DSC master level biostatistician in the grant budget as stated in the MOU, or they will need to pay an hourly rate of $125 for any support time beyond the initial 1 hour per grant application. This will be billed through the USC FBS System.
      4.  All Core Users will sign an MOU indicating their agreement to include funding for the DSC in the grant budget if the grant is funded at any time in the future. 

Publications: All DSC work on manuscripts and abstracts will be billed at the appropriate hourly rate, no free DSC service is provided for manuscript/abstract writing and preparation. It is expected that DSC members providing statistical support be included as co-authors on publications. Informatics professionals who make significant contributions should also be considered for inclusion as co-authors. Acknowledgment of the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center CCSG grant (NIH-NCI grant # P30CA014089) in scientific manuscripts is required when Data Science Core services have been provided.

DSC Leadership

Ming Li, PhD


David Birtwell