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From the Department Chairman's Corner, 1995-96 Review

By Dr. Marcello Pagano, Acting Chair, 1995-1996
Department of Biostatistics, HSPH

This year the department co-sponsored two large meetings. Together with the Center for biostatistics in AIDS Research (CBAR) and Frontier Science and Technology Research Foundation (FSTRF), the department co-sponsored a Symposium on Bayesian Approaches to Clinical Trials in March. The symposium was attended by approximately 100 people. The symposium provided an introduction to Bayesian approaches to the design, monitoring, and analysis of clinical trials. David Spiegelhalter of the Medical Research Council, Cambridge, England and Donald Berry of the Institute of Statistics and Decision Sciences, Duke University delivered the keynote addresses. Peter Thall of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center presented a talk on trial design; Kathryn Chaloner of the University of Minnesota gave a presentation on documenting prior beliefs; Laurence Freedman of the National Cancer Institute spoke on interim monitoring. Marvin Zelen moderated a panel discussion on the role of Bayesian methodology in clinical trials.

The fourth annual Schering-Plough Workshop, co-sponsored by the Schering-Plough Research Institute and our department, was held on May 30-31. This year's program was on "Flexible Strategies for Clinical Trials." Since its inception, the workshop has provided an important vehicle for member of the academic community, the pharmaceutical industry, the FDA, and the NIH to meet and discuss issues of common concern. The first session of the workshop, chaired by Butch Tsiatis, consisted of speakers from the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA presenting their experiences and perspectives on the workshop's theme. During the second session, chaired by Nan Laird, several members of the academic community and the NIH gave presentation on new methodological issues. The last session of the workshop, chaired by Steve Lagakos, focused on case studies. Two clinical trial presentations were given followed by a panel discussion with members from academia, the FDA, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Two new faculty have joined our department this year. Neil Klar was appointed Assistant Professor this July. Neil received his Ph.D. in Biostatistics in 1993 from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Western Ontario. After receiving his doctorate, he continued at the University of Western Ontario as a postdoctoral fellow until joining our department. His major research interests are in the areas of clinical trials and the analyzing of correlated binary outcome data. His office is at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Jonathan Haines, Associate Professor of Neurology (Genetics) at the Medical School, received a secondary appointment with the department in January. He works as an Associate Geneticist in the Molecular Neurogenetics Units of Massachusetts General Hospital. His major research interests include linkage analysis in common and complex disease, segregation analysis, and human population genetics. In addition, Joe Ibrahim has been promoted from assistant to associate professor.

Marie Davidian and Butch Tsiatis have taken a one-year leave of absence as of August 1 and will be sending the year at the Department of Statistics, North Carolina State University. We already miss their presence and their constant spread of joy and kindness.

With sadness I must report that two of our faculty, Kathy Propert and Diane Fairclough, are leaving us as of this September. Kathy receive a Master's degree from our department in 1984, stayed on in the department as a statistician with the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB), and received her SCD from us in 1990. She was then appointed postdoctoral fellow and subsequently assistant professor. After receiving her doctorate, she also worked as senior statistician with SDAC. Kathy will be Associate Professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Diane joined the department as Faculty Lecturer in 1993 and worked at the Dana Farber. Last year, she organized the department's Quality-of-Life Working Group. Diane will be Associate Scientist with the AMC Cancer Research Center in Denver. We thank them both for their valuable contributions to the department and wish them both the very best.

The Center for Biostatistics in AIDS Research (CBAR), formerly SDAC, has moved to HSPH's newly constructed building, the François-Xavier Bagnoud Building. CBAR will now be housed in the fifth and sixth floors of the new building. The move will enable CBAR members to work in one consolidated area.

This June the third Summer Training Program in Biostatistics was held. The training program was established in 1994 under the leadership of Louise Ryan to attract qualified undergraduates from underrepresented minority groups to our department's programs. This year's students came from universities including Spelman College, University of Puerto Rico, and Howard University. The three-week long session offered nine students an introductory course in biostatistics, a research seminar focusing on several specific applications in environmental health and cancer research, and visits to researchers at Harvard's Kresge Center for Environmental Health and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Studies were also taken to an array of social events including a baseball game at Fenway Park, the annual department picnic, and a trip to the Museum of Science in Boston.

This year went by too fast, but I am happy to return the reins to our returning Chair, Nan Laird.