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YSPH biostatistician part of award-winning Yale team

February 22, 2023
by Fran Fried

It was Jesse Reynolds’ interest in math that ultimately led him to a career in biostatistics.

“Long story short, I was always pretty good at math,” said Reynolds, who has worked at the Yale School of Public Health as a biostatistician at the Yale Center for Analytical Sciences (YCAS) since 2012, where he oversees Yale University’s ClinicalTrials.gov Team.

Most recently, Reynolds has been part of the Research Electronic Data Capture or REDCap team, which is comprised of seven data information specialists from YSPH, Health Sciences Information Services, and the Yale School of Medicine. REDCap is an open-source research data collection tool that provides university investigators with optimal services. The team’s ingenuity has led to software and system improvements that enhance data quality and project efficiency for Yale investigators at 39 schools and departments, involving more than 1,300 research projects conducted in 91 countries worldwide.

University officials were so impressed by the effort that the team was awarded the university’s Linda K. Lorimer Award for Distinguished Service in November 2022. For Reynolds, it was unexpected recognition for a job well done by people whose work isn’t always recognized.

“I was blown away by it,” he said. “It is truly an honor to be considered a part of the REDCap Team, but to be a co-recipient of such a prestigious award given to that team was humbling. My biggest regret was that I was unable to attend the ceremony.”

Having gone through the same experiences with COVID that we all have been through since 2020 has only reinforced the importance of public health research and policy in our lives. I am proud to be a small part of it at YSPH. I am proud that I get to work with such incredible people who do work that really impacts people’s lives.

Jesse Reynolds

Reynolds cited the mentorship he received from YSPH Biostatistics Professor Denise Esserman; YCAS Co-director James Dziura, professor of emergency medicine and of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and professor of biostatistics at YSPH; and YSPH Biostatistics Professor Emeritus Peter Peduzzi as being instrumental in helping him to advance his career.

“Jesse is a team player,” Esserman said. “He is always willing to help whenever needed. He is a national leader in ClinicalTrials.gov and has been an innovator, creating a dashboard for tracking results reporting, and registration. He is extremely knowledgeable but is never afraid to learn new things. He is a joy to work with and brings a great attitude. He always shares thoughtful and insightful commentary and is truly dedicated to advancing the research mission of the university, YSPH, and YCAS.”

Reynolds became interested in biostatistics more than two decades ago while taking research methods courses for his Bachelor of Science degree in sociology at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), which he received in 2002. He has been affiliated with Yale since then.

“As part of my internship and coursework, I learned to use SPSS (statistical software), and that experience got me hired as a research assistant at the Yale Consultation Center, working for professor Joy Kaufman in program evaluation and community psychology,” Reynolds said.

While employed at the Consultation Center, Reynolds completed his master’s degree from the Research Statistics and Methods program at SCSU in 2007, then moved into a research associate position. He then moved to the public health sector.

Reynolds became interested in public health and epidemiological research while working at the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center as a data analyst. “From there, I moved on to work at YCAS [in 2012], where another biostatistician and I were brought on to address any potential gaps in results reporting in clinical research at Yale,” he said.

Reynolds’ team at YCAS assists researchers with all aspects of study registration and reporting to ClinicalTrials.gov – the world’s largest online trial registration and results reporting repository – in keeping with Yale Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) policy and federal law. Reynolds oversees the university’s Protocol Registration and Results System (PRS). It’s the backend to the database for Yale-sponsored research. He’s also part of the YCAS Operations Group, which oversees the center’s activities.

“I provide guidance to researchers on what is required with respect to clinical trial registration and results reporting,” he explained. “There are federal laws through the FDA that have requirements, funder requirements for registration and results reporting from the NIH, PCORI, DOD, VA, and a host of other reasons that PIs have to register their clinical research and report their results. I help them make that determination.”

“Our team also assists in registering, updating, and reporting results in the system for all investigator-initiated research at the university,” he continued. “Lastly, I serve on a national task force and am a member of the planning committee that meets monthly and keeps up to date on all things ClinicalTrials.gov.”

Reynolds also assists in research. In 2022, he was a co-author of two research papers: Effect of Implementation Facilitation to Promote Adoption of Medications for Addiction Treatment in US HIV Clinics (whose co-authors also included Dziura and Esserman); and LGBQ-Affirmative Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Young Gay and Bisexual Men’s Mental and Sexual Health: A Three-Arm Randomized Controlled Trial (with John Pachankis, Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences), as lead author and Esserman as co-author).

On the first paper, he assisted in the manuscript, though his primary role was in data management/study design, as well as the study registration, record updates, and results reporting in ClinicalTrials.gov. On the second paper, he served as the unblinded biostatistician throughout the course of the study and prepared reports for the team’s Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB). He also reviewed the manuscript, and, as with the first paper, worked on the study registration, record updates, and results reporting in ClinicalTrials.gov.

While his ClinicalTrials.gov work takes up most of his time at the moment, Reynolds has more research work ahead to keep him busy. He’ll be serving on the DSMB for two of Pachankis’s studies in the next few years. Possibly this spring, he’ll be working on a follow-up study to a published paper that looked at the allocation of resources at academic medical centers with respect to ClinicalTrials.gov compliance. And his ClinicalTrials.gov team, under the guidance of YSPH biostatistics research professor Lisa Calvocoressi, is developing research questions about aspects of COVID-19 research and potential uses of ClinicalTrials.gov data, for which they intend to write a manuscript.

Reynolds said he is proud to be contributing to the field of public health.

“Having gone through the same experiences with COVID that we all have been through since 2020 has only reinforced the importance of public health research and policy in our lives,” he said. “I am proud to be a small part of it at YSPH. I am proud that I get to work with such incredible people who do work that really impacts people’s lives.”

Submitted by Fran Fried on February 21, 2023