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Big Data Scientist Training Enhancement Program (BD-STEP)

BD-STEP Overview

The Big Data Scientist Training Enhancement Program is a two-year fellowship program that uses data science to advance cancer research and care. Launched in 2015 and collaboratively managed by the Veterans Health Administration and the National Cancer Institute , the program leverages VA healthcare data resources and NCI cancer research expertise to enhance the training of data scientists.

Accepted fellows are matched to VA medical centers, where they are immersed in collaborative training and research environments. With joint mentorship from academic investigators and VA clinical researchers and care providers, fellows gain clinical domain knowledge and enrich their data science skills using VA health data, including:

  • Clinical data from VA’s integrated national healthcare system
  • Research and care from the Precision Oncology Program
  • Diagnosis and treatment info from the VA Central Cancer Registry

Applicant Qualifications

Applicants must meet the below eligibility criteria:

  • PhD or Masters in computer science, physical science, and other quantitative disciplines, including:
    • Engineering disciplines
    • Computer science
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Epidemiology
    • Physics
  • Computational expertise
    • Strong background in advanced mathematics and statistics
    • Proficiency in at least on programming language
    • Experience in bioinformatics, modeling, or management of large data sets
  • US Citizenship: Applicants must be US citizen to be hired within a VA facility. Non-citizens are also encouraged to apply and are not eligible for VA stipend support.


US Map with BD-STEP sites marked

Approved host sites provide fellows with graduate-level training in clinical, health services, and bioinformatics research. Each site provides an overview of how they understand and apply big data in their clinical research setting, including the ethical and legal implications; how data are generated while providing clinical care and how those data are aggregated at local, regional, and national levels; and how BD-STEP trainees will participate in a research project involving such data.

If you are interested in applying, contact the site(s) of interest to discuss research possibilities:

BD-STEP Site Directors


For more information on BD-STEP, please contact

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