Joint postdoc program develops from partnership between Statistics Department, Inova Health

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A partnership between George Mason University’s Statistics Department and Inova Health Care Services has entered its fifth year and continues to grow. The partnership has motivated a new initiative: a postdoc program for Inova researchers interested in developing skills in statistics and data science, run jointly by George Mason’s statistics and global and community health departments. Mohamad Bahij Moumneh, MD, and Jason F. Goldberg, MD, are the program’s standing inaugural members.  

“As a fresh Lebanese medical graduate interested in expanding his acquired skills in the field of research, especially cardiology, and academia, the joint program provided me with this golden opportunity,” said Moumneh. He added, “By maximizing the resources of each institute, enhancements in the overall picture and quality of research and healthcare education occur, and allow both institutions to keep, if not exceed, pace with novel technologies and healthcare advancements and institutions.” 

The partnership between Mason Statistics and Inova Health was supported by a contract between the university and the healthcare system via a parent award from NIH to the  iTHRIV partnership. It supported the experts in George Mason’s Statistics Collaboration Core (SCC) to work with colleagues from Inova Health Care Services on research projects involving statistics or data science. To initialize each new project, INOVA researchers visit   

“The Statistics Collaboration Core (SCC) is a collaboration platform that supports and facilitates statistical collaborations with internal and external investigators or seekers for evidenced-based research, or statistical, biostatistical, or data science support to decision-making,” explained Jiayang Sun of Mason’s statistics department. Sun is a Principal Investigator on the new grant establishing the postdoc program, alongside co-PI Carolyn Drews-Botsch, the chair of the department of global and community health in Mason’s School of Public Health.  

“The partnership between Inova and Mason will help with our research efforts aimed at prolonging life after heart transplantation,” said Goldberg. He noted that, for his case, SCC has provided advanced analysis of mircoRNA clinical rejection scores and has used machine learning to evaluate risk modeling of adverse outcomes within the first year of heart transplantation.  

“These collaborations will continue to produce meaningful cardiovascular research,” he said. 

Of the five-year partnership between Mason Statistics and Inova Health, Sun noted the relationship has been fruitful, producing additional grants, publications in the health and medical sector, and new grant proposals. She added that it serves as a welcome opportunity for both tenure track and term faculty to perform original research and collaborate with colleagues dealing with real-world problems. Research projects from the partnership have covered such important topics as opioid use, sepsis, heart failure, and—before there were reliable tests—the spread of COVID-19 among children in northern Virginia.  

Sun, Moumneh, and Goldberg are likewise optimistic about the new joint postdoc program.  

“Researchers can collaborate on various projects that eventually might lead to medical breakthroughs. One could say that the joint program fosters an environment of innovation and growth. The joint program also allows the addressing of pressing healthcare dilemmas, an event that might encourage students to think of possible solutions and managements,” said Moumneh.