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November 30, 2004 

Diener-West Named Inaugural Abbey-Merrell Professor of Biostatistics Education

WestThe Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has named Marie Diener-West, PhD, as the inaugural Helen Abbey and Margaret Merrell Professor in Biostatistics Education, which was established to promote the quality of biostatistics education for public health scientists and professionals. The new endowed professorship is unique because it is among the first to promote teaching rather than scientific research. Dr. Diener-West will be officially installed as the Helen Abbey and Margaret Merrell Professor of Biostatistics Education during a ceremony at the Bloomberg School of Public Health on December 6.

The endowed professorship honors the late professors Margaret Merrell and Helen Abbey. Both were renowned as pioneers in biostatistics and for their dedication as educators. Their work helped establish the School of Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics as a center of statistical learning for public health professionals and scientists for nearly 70 years. Johns Hopkins created the world’s first department of biostatistics in 1918.

“Dr. Diener-West is a great asset to the Bloomberg School of Public Health. She possesses all the characteristics of an excellent teacher: a sharp intellect, a well-received style of communication and a sincere dedication to her students. Her brightness of mind is balanced by a brightness of spirit,” said Scott Zeger, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Biostatistics at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This endowed professorship demonstrates the high priority we place on the biostatistics education of public health students,” he added.

Dr. Diener-West earned her PhD in biostatistics from the School of Public Health in 1984 under the direction of Dr. Charles Rohde. She worked closely with Dr. Abbey and was admired by her. Dr. Diener-West served as a senior biostatistician for the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group at the American College of Radiology before joining the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1986. She was promoted to professor in 2000 in recognition of her contributions to multi-center clinical trials, including the Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study of the National Eye Institute, and to statistical education.

As a teacher, Dr. Diener-West is highly regarded by her students. She is a 4-time recipient of the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Golden Apple Award, which is awarded annually by students to outstanding teachers.

The endowed professorship is made possible by a gift from Dr. Abbey’s estate and from a large number of gifts from Dr. Merrell’s and Dr. Abbey’s former students and friends.

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Lowe at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu. Photographs of Maire Diener-West are available upon request.