Since its creation in 1987, the Department of Statistics at Rice has maintained a strong emphasis in modern areas of statistics and probability that often drive the leading advances in general areas of biology. Students in the program study and engage in leading edge research in the areas of biostatistics, bioinformatics, systems biology and genetic epidemiology. With the Texas Medical Center (TMC) in close proximity to Rice (literally right across Main street), collaboration between Rice and TMC researchers is natural. The Department of Statistics has established formal agreements and programs with the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine. The Department’s adjunct faculty represent a highly distinguished group of researchers from these TMC institutions. The Department also maintains strong collaborations with other researchers at Rice who work in this area.
In 2000, the Department of Statistics formally partnered with the Division of Quantitative Sciences at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to offer a collaborative doctoral degree in biostatistics. Biostatistics is the science of bringing statistical and probabilistic reasoning to bear on the complex problems presented in research areas such as biology, genetics, human health, medical and environmental science. Biostatisticians play a key and sometimes leading role in the development of new treatment methodologies for human ailments. This also holds true for the understanding of complex biological and environmental systems. The mission of the joint Graduate Program in Biostatistics is to develop the technical, practical and leadership expertise of students in this important area of Biostatistics, thereby enabling students to contribute significantly to the improvement of human health throughout the world.