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New U of T-hosted statistical and data science research hub to support 'impactful discovery' in Ontario

U of T's Faculty of Arts & Science will be the academic host of the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI) Ontario Regional Centre (photo by U of T News)

Statistical and data science research and training in the Ontario region has a new home with the recent launch of the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI) Ontario Regional Centre.

The centre will be a multidisciplinary unit in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Arts & Science, which will promote and support CANSSI’s mission to be a catalyst for discovery and innovation in the statistical and data sciences in Canada.

Lisa Strug, an associate professor in the department of statistical sciences who is cross-appointed to the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, has been named the inaugural director of CANSSI Ontario.

“It is an honour to serve as the inaugural director of CANSSI Ontario,” says Strug, who is also senior scientist in the genetics and genome biology program at the Hospital for Sick Children and associate director of the Centre for Applied Genomics at the SickKids Research Institute.

“I intend to facilitate multidisciplinary data-intensive research and training in the province towards impactful discovery.”

Portrait of Lisa Strug
CANSSI is a national not-for-profit organization with the mission of advancing research, collaboration and training in the statistical sciences by forging collaborations with scientists and scholars in academia, government and industry. CANSSI’s unique model of connecting statistical and scientific leaders for research partnerships emphasizes the co-creation of knowledge, which accelerates innovation in government, industry and society. 

Another key objective is the training of new researchers to tackle the challenges of the future. CANSSI is supported by major funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Jay Pratt, the vice-dean of research at the Faculty of Arts & Science, says the faculty is excited to be the academic host for CANSSI Ontario.

"As one of our newest extra-departmental units, it will foster cross-collaborative research throughout our faculty, among the various divisions of the University of Toronto and across universities in Ontario,” he says

Simon Fraser University’s Donald Estep, who is CANSSI’s scientific director, says the challenges and opportunities facing the statistics and data science communities vary enormously across Canada.

“Regional centres like CANSSI Ontario will provide a way for CANSSI to understand the local environment and deploy its national resources more effectively in each province,” says Estep. 

“We are very fortunate to be able to recruit a person with the achievements and vision of Lisa to lead CANSSI Ontario in order to pursue this goal.”

CANSSI Ontario will support several initiatives that facilitate collaborative research in data science such as data access grants, new investigator awards and training programs. One such CANSSI Ontario-supported program, Strategic Training for Advanced Genetic Epidemiology (STAGE), is a long-standing multidisciplinary research and training program in statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology.

CANSSI Ontario STAGE will be a collaboration between the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the department of statistical sciences with representation and participation from several other Ontario university investigators.

With files from the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute