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Fall 2015


BSPH Centennial

Biostat to Celebrate with Inaugural Symposium

The inaugural Ross-Royall Symposium on February 26, 2016 is entitled, “From Individuals to Populations;” it will highlight recent advances in statistical methods for making population inferences in public health.

The Department of Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is pleased to announce the Inaugural Ross-Royall Symposium focused on population inference, to be held on Friday February 26, 2016 in Baltimore, MD. This year’s symposium, “From Individuals to Populations” will highlight recent advances in statistical methods for making population inferences in public health. It has been made possible by an initiative established to honor the contributions made in this area by Alan Ross and Richard Royall, both former faculty in the JHSPH Department of Biostatistics, and to promote future such contributions, through the gift of a generous alumnus. There will be a particular focus on innovative methods that allow for population inferences despite a lack of formally representative data sources, or for enhancing inferences by combining multiple data sources. 

The symposium on February 26 will include three sessions with leading researchers in the field as well as a concluding panel discussion and an evening reception. The session topics include “Population inferences from observational studies”, “Transporting treatment effects using randomized trials and observational studies,” and “Inference from internet samples.” We have lined up an impressive set of speakers and experts from across the country; see the whole listing below:

- Sebastian Schneeweiss, Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard Medical School and Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women's Hospital
- Rod Little, Richard D. Remington Distinguished University Professor, Department of Biostatistics, University of Michigan
- William R. Bell, Research and Methodology Directorate, US Census Bureau
- Jae Kwang Kim, Professor, Department of Statistics and Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology (CSSM), Iowa State University
- Elizabeth Stuart, Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
- Eloise Kaizar, Associate Professor, Department of Statistics, Ohio State University
- Erin Hartman, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Statistics, University of California at Los Angeles
- Ravi Varadhan, Associate Professor, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Department of Medicine Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
- Andy Gelman, Professor, Department of Statistics and Department of Political Science, Columbia University
- Rick Valliant, Research Professor, Universities of Michigan and Maryland: Inferential in Finite Population from Nonprobability Samples
- Doug Rivers, Professor of Political Science, Standford University, and Chief Scientist, YouGov
- Jon Krosnick, Professor of Communication, Political Science, and Psychology, Stanford University
- Tim Gregoire, J.P. Weyerhaeuser Professor of Forest Management, Yale University: Model-based Inference for LiDAR-assisted Forest Inventory to Estimate Aboveground Biomass
- Peter Miller, US Bureau of the Census
- Frauke Kreuter, Professor, Joint Program in Survey Methodology, Maryland Population Research Center, University of Maryland

Full details, including registration information can be found at this site:

The Ross-Royall Symposium Organizing Committee
Michael Rosenblum and Elizabeth Stuart, co-Chairs
Karen Bandeen-Roche, Jay Herson, Tom Louis, and Chuck Rohde


Just In!

Nilanjan Chatterjee named Bloomberg Distinguished Professor

Nilanjan Chatterjee

Nilanjan Chatterjee joins Johns Hopkins University as a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Biostatistics and the School of Medicine's Department of Oncology.

Dr. Chatterjee expressed:

I am honored to join Hopkins as a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor. Johns Hopkins has a great tradition in Biostatistics both in the School of Public Health and in the Department of Oncology in School of Medicine. I am really excited that I now get to be part of this tradition. I hope I can use my vision on population science and statistics to make an impact in these departments, the schools and the entire university through research, mentoring and training.  So far I have found the atmosphere here is truly stimulating and fun!

Click here for the full story, written by Julie Messersmith.

Support Biostatistics

Centennial Scholarships Honor Duncan, Rohde

In conjunction with the School’s Centennial, generous alumni have established two new scholarships providing support for students seeking degrees in the Department of Biostatistics.

In conjunction with the School’s Centennial, generous alumni have established two new scholarships providing support for students seeking degrees in the Department of Biostatistics. Dennis Dixon (PhD, Statistics, 1974) has endowed the David B. Duncan Endowed Centennial Scholarship Fund. Jeannette Lee (PhD, Biostatistics, 1977) and Linda Pickle (PhD, Biostatistics, 1977) have endowed the Charles Rohde Centennial Scholarship. Both funds will support, in perpetuity, the Department’s ability to continue recruiting outstanding students and providing them with the first-rate experience we aspire to uphold.

David B. Duncan was a beloved faculty member in the Department from 1960-1984, whose achievements include groundbreaking contributions to logistic regression and methodology to address “multiple comparisons.” The Duncan Scholarship particularly seeks to support students from regions with a pressing need for statistical expertise or pursuing studies in global health and education. Charles Rohde joined our Department as a postdoctoral fellow in 1964; this year he is celebrating 50 years on our faculty. Chair from 1981-1996 and an exceptional mentor of faculty and students alike, Jeannette and Linda credit their long, successful careers to the outstanding preparation Dr. Rohde gave them during their studies. Each scholarship is open to further contributions by persons seeking to honor those named by the funds and to increase the level of support the funds provide to our students.

The Duncan and Rohde Centennial Scholarships are two of 25 Centennial Scholarships to be endowed in honor of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Centennial, celebrating the School’s establishment in 2016. Each Centennial Scholarship has been initiated with a $100,000 investment: we are thrilled and grateful for Dennis’, Jeannette’s and Linda’s generosity that has provided a share of these for Biostatistics.

Further giving opportunities also are available through a related, but distinct, initiative: A “Centennial Scholars” fund which will benefit 10-20 students across all the Departments and the MPH program over the next five years. Those interested may find more information here:


Department News

Changing of the Guard in the Biostatistics Center

In August 2015, Dr. Richard (Rick) Thompson stepped down as the Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Biostatistics Center after serving in this role for seven years.

In August 2015, Dr. Richard (Rick) Thompson stepped down as the Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Biostatistics Center after serving in this role for seven years. Dr. Thompson has been a faculty member in the Department since 1999, and was one of the original Center consultants. Dr. Thompson received his MS degree in physics from the University of Notre Dame in 1993, and his PhD degree in biometry from the Medical University of South Caroline in 1999. In 2000, he was appointed as the Associate Director of the Center by then Director and Department Chair Scott Zeger, a position he held until 2008. In October 2008, Dr. Thompson took over as the Interim Center Director, and was subsequently named the Executive Director on a permanent basis in July 2010. Dr. Thompson also served in a leadership role with the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translation Research (ICTR), being primarily responsible for directing the professional services provided by the Consulting Group within the Quantitative Methods Core.

During his tenure as Director, Dr. Thompson guided the Center through a tremendous period of transition and growth. Under his leadership, the Center faculty and staff increased by over twofold, from approximately four full-time equivalents (FTEs) in 2008 to the current ten FTEs. Dr. Thompson helped establish the ScM internship, a highly selective program supported by the Center for over five years. This program provides an opportunity for the Department’s top ScM graduate students to train as statistical consultants while completing their didactic coursework. A total of ten ScM graduates have completed this internship program and are currently employed as statistical consults at JHMI, other institutions, or they have continued in the Department as PhD candidates.  

Dr. Thompson was also instrumental in the creation of the data management arm of the JHBC, known today as the Data Informatics Services Core (DISC). Through DISC, the Biostatistics Center was one of the first organizations within JHMI to support the use of REDCap. Under Dr. Thompson’s leadership, the Center also worked in collaboration with the Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology to create the Wilmer Biostatistics Core, which provides approximately 1.0 FTE of statistical support to clinicians conducting research on eye disease.

In 2013, Dr. Thompson and his Center colleagues were awarded a $2 million U01 grant from the NIH to provide data management and statistical support for the Minimally-Invasive Surgery Plus rt-PA for Intracerebral Hemorrhage Evacuation (MISTIE) study, a multi-center, Phase III clinical trial designed to test a novel neurosurgical intervention for the treatment of hemorrhagic stroke. The MISTIE award represented a new chapter for the Biostatistics Center as it was the first time it received direct NIH funding to serve as the Data Coordinating Center (DCC) in support of a major clinical trial.

Dr. Thompson will continue as a faculty member in the Department. He remains the Principal Investigator of the MISTIE DCC, and also continues to provide statistical support for the Johns Hopkins Center for AIDS Research and the Johns Hopkins ICTR.


Faculty Spotlight

Tom Louis: From Biostat to Census

Tom Louis

From 2013-2015, Dr. Tom Louis has served as the U. S. Census Bureau’s Associate Director for Research and Methodology (R&M) and Chief Scientist.

From 2013-2015, Dr. Tom Louis has served as the U. S. Census Bureau’s Associate Director for Research and Methodology (R&M) and Chief Scientist.  To give us a bit of context on his role and that of the Census Bureau, Tom explained:

R&M is one of eight units reporting to the Deputy Director, and has the mission of Technical Leadership, Innovation, and Integration...  R&M’s approximately 240 staff are in six centers (Adaptive Design, Administrative Records Research and Applications, Disclosure Avoidance Research, Economic Studies, Statistical Research and Methodology, Survey Measurement) and three core units (Data Web Applications, Quality Program, Planning, Coordination and Outreach).

The Census Bureau conducts the Decennial Census the American Community Survey, the Economic Census, and scores of other censuses and surveys, many for other federal agencies and foreign governments. Examples include the Current Population Survey for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (the source for the monthly unemployment rate), and the National Health Interview Survey for the National Center of Health Statistics.  The bureau produces small-area estimates of income and poverty used by the Department of Education to allocate billions of dollars in aid to local school districts.

As an Associate Director, Tom’s responsibilities were administrative, advisory, and research-related in scope. He served on bureau-wide committees including Operating, Data Stewardship Executive Policy, 2020 Executive Steering, and ACS advisory.  He also chaired the R&M weekly meeting, and the Methods and Standards Council (development and implementation of statistical standards). When discussing his day-to-day activities, Tom quipped:

These are but a sample, but should give you the (correct) impression that I spent a lot of time in meetings!  I was allowed out of the building and, for example, represented the Bureau at inaugural event in Muscat Oman for the Statistical Centre of the Cooperation Council for the Arab Countries of the Gulf.

Most Bureau staff engage primarily in production, but as previous director Robert Groves (now Provost at Georgetown) has stated, the Bureau must innovate to stay relevant and economically viable.  R&M plays a significant role in projects such as: optimizing self-response, adaptive survey design, harmonization of data collection and information dissemination across the Bureau, using `big data’ to aid in survey conduct and complement/supplement survey-collected measurements.  The Census’ Big Data Center is the nexus for the Bureau and other federal statistical agencies.

Tom’s research at the Census includes development of a micro-simulator to assess designs for the 2020 Census, improved CIs in complex surveys, determining which ballot languages are required by Section 203 of the voting rights act, co-authorship with Niels Keiding of “Perils and Potentials of Web-Based enrollment in Surveys and Studies (with discussion)” to appear in JRSS-B, and co-authorship with Michael Rosenblum, Liz Stuart and three Census colleagues of the manuscript “Adaptive Design in Surveys and Clinical Trials: A call for convergence.”

In closing, Tom reflected:

I am excited to return Hopkins, bringing a direct understanding of the goals, methods and culture of a Federal Statistical Agency.  I’ll continue to conduct research at the intersection of Biostatistical and Survey methods.  As Rod Little (previous head of R&M) and I noted in our 2013 Huffington Post blog, ‘It’s not a stretch to say that official government statisticians are guardians of our democracy.’ I am extremely fortunate to have collaborated with these guardians.


Past E-Newsletters

  Spring 2015