Over the years the NORC Design Analytics Core (DAC) has emerged as a leader in statistical aspects of basic, clinical, and translational nutrition and obesity related research within and beyond the UAB campus. Our efforts incorporate creativity in experimental designs and statistical consultation, support statistical training, and incorporate novel statistical approaches into the dynamic nutrition and obesity research conducted at UAB and beyond through the following specific aims:

  • Specific Aim 1 - Design

    To provide statistical consultation on study design to NORC investigators;

  • Specific Aim 2 - Analysis

    To provide statistical collaboration, statistical consultation or statistical support on data analyses for studies led by NORC investigators;

  • Specific Aim 3 - Teaching and Training

    To lead and participate in workshops, conferences, short courses and other teaching and training activities of the NORC to improve statistical comprehension and practice of our NORC members and the nutrition and obesity fields overall;

  • Specific Aim 4 - Development

    To develop, adapt, and disseminate novel statistical design and methods for nutrition and obesity research.

The NORC DAC can through the expertise within our core team as well as our collaborative network offer expertise in the following areas broadly:

  • Study designs for clinical trials and observational studies including sample size calculations
  • Developing and implementing electronic data capture and data management for clinical trials
  • Developing and implementing statistical analyses plans for clinical trials
  • Analyses of large and big secondary data including machine learning and data mining techniques
  • Cost-effectiveness analyses
  • Reproducibility and rigor checks
  • Electronic data capture and use of informatics to collect outcomes data and facilitate participant engagement


A full range of statistical software is utilized while maintaining data security and HIPPA compliant operations. An extensive listing of the computing facilities available can be made available upon request.


The Design Analytics Core assigns the highest priority of use to nutrition/obesity-related, peer-reviewed, federally funded research and NORC-approved pilot/feasibility studies. The Cores uses a flexible charge back policy when assisting NORC pilot and feasibility grantees to substantiate extramural research grant applications. Usually, the investigators will be asked to cover as much of the routine charges as possible; however, because funding may not be in hand to fully support the acquisition of preliminary data, the Core will absorb these costs in part if fiscally feasible. The Core will also provide an estimate of the support effort required to accomplish so that the level of support can be properly budgeted.


Core Director:

Tapan Mehta, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Health Services Administration
Phone: (205) 975-9171
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Nengjun Yi, Ph.D.
Department of Biostatistics
Phone: (205) 934-4924
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Nianlan Yang, Ph.D.
Statistician I
SHP Research Collaborative
Phone: (205) 975-4003
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Design and Analytics Core, formerly known as the Biostatistics Core, of UAB's NORC was originally directed by the late Dr. Seng-Jaw Soong. Dr. Soong was an outstanding statistician known as much for his organizational leadership as for his scientific accomplishments. Dr. Desmond served as the associate director of the NORC Biostatistics Core before Dr. Soong’s retirement. Dr. David Allison appointed Dr. Desmond as the acting director of the core in June 2005. Subsequently, the external advisory committee appointed Dr. Desmond as the director on May 11, 2006 until she stepped down in May 2020.

Dedication of the Seng-jaw and Mayhue Soong clinical Studies Unit, April 7, 2016, University of Alabama at Birmingham.Dedication of the Seng-jaw and Mayhue Soong clinical Studies Unit, April 7, 2016, the University of Alabama at Birmingham. norc members Dr. David Allison, former NORC director, with UAB NORC members and other faculty and staff, July 2017.