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Biostatistics

Russell (Taki) Shinohara

Taki ShinoharaRussell (Taki) Shinohara is an alumnus of the Johns Hopkins Department of Biostatistics. He graduated with his PhD in 2012 and is currently an Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. His thesis, under direction of Constantine Frangakis and Mei-Cheng Wang, was entitled, “Robust Statistical Methods for the Study of Disease through Complex Structural Outcomes.” Since graduating from Hopkins, Shinohara has published over 60 papers in top-tier journals including NeuroImageBiometrics, the American Journal of Neuroradiology, Statistics in Medicine, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2013, he was the youngest principal investigator in the nation in 20 years to receive an R01 award at the age of 27. He currently serves as principal investigator of three methodological research grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Recently, Shinohara shared his research interests, accomplishments and thoughts about his time in the Biostatistics Department through an interview. He concluded by saying:

"Being an alumnus of Hopkins Biostatistics means several things. First, it means having obtained the knowledge and skills required to be a biostatistician. It also means having the necessary experience and paradigm to lead quantitative studies of biomedical problems. Finally, being an alumnus is being part of a closely knit network of Hopkins graduates working in many areas of biostatistics and public health; many of my collaborators are part of this network, and we continue to rely on each other for expert opinions and advice throughout our careers."

Shinohara continues to collaborate with the Johns Hopkins Biostatistics community and serves as an Adjunct Professor for the Department.

How did you get interested in the field of biostatistics? What was your background before enrolling at Hopkins?

My undergraduate and master’s training was in mathematical statistics and probability, from McGill University. My interest in biostatistics and public health, on the other hand, came from a desire to make a difference in human health. I wanted to learn more about medicine and epidemiology, and how I could contribute.

How did Johns Hopkins Biostatistics prepare you for your career? What aspects of the program did you find most useful?

My experience at Hopkins completely shaped my paradigms about statistics, data science, and biomedical research. Through coursework, and more importantly through close mentorship in research, I developed areas of specialty in methodology as well as medicine and public health. I can easily say that I would not be where I am today without the experiences that I had at Hopkins Biostatistics.

What are your favorite memories of your time at Johns Hopkins Biostatistics?

My best memories from my PhD are those from interactions with the faculty and other students at Hopkins. I very much enjoyed meeting and interacting every day with many of the most intelligent and influential minds in data science and statistics. I learned so much from the Hopkins Biostatistics community, and am proud to carry with me the experience and perspectives I gained.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

A key piece of advice I’d give to prospective students is to judge a graduate program by the community and culture in the department. At Hopkins, I learned much more from my daily interactions with peers and faculty than I could ever learn in a classroom.

Describe your current position and responsibilities in a way that will inform prospective students about career opportunities in Biostatistics.

I am currently Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. My laboratory develops new methodology for studying information in biomedical images to better understand pathology, development, and the effects of treatments. I spend most of my days working with students, postdoctoral fellows, and colleagues, to build better statistical approaches for harnessing the complex information in neuroimaging studies in collaboration with clinicians and other biomedical scientists.

What about your experience at Hopkins would be useful for prospective students and/or helping current students?

Hopkins Biostatistics [Department] is a truly special place; it is a closely knit community that I am proud to be a part of.

What has been your most satisfying job experience using your biostatistics background?

My most satisfying job experience has been to develop new methods, and collaborate with clinicians to see these methods used to make a difference in human health.

What reasons might you give to encourage a prospective student to get a master’s Biostatistics degree at Hopkins?

Hopkins Biostatistics is an incredible environment, and the Bloomberg School is a top institution with experts in virtually all areas of public health.

Can you describe your day-to-day life as a graduate?

As an academic, I spend most of my days conducting research and working with students and fellows with cutting-edge and impactful biomedical problems whose study requires new methodology. I also teach in the classroom and collaborate extensively with clinicians and other biomedical researchers.