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Establishment of the Marvin Zelen Leadership Award in Statistical Science

By Evelyn Ophir

The Department of Biostatistics is proud to announce the establishment of the Marvin Zelen Leadership Award in Statistical Science. This annual award, supported by colleagues, friends and family, was created by Harvard School of Public Health to honor Dr. Marvin Zelen's long and distinguished career and his major role in shaping the field of biostatistics.

After earning a master of science degree in mathematical statistics from the University of North Carolina in 1951, Dr. Zelen joined the applied Mathematics Divisions of the National Bureau of Standards, where he developed a life-long interest in the design of experiments. Dr. Zelen earned his Ph.D. from American University and began work at the Army Mathematics Research Center at the University of Wisconsin, where opportunities presented by the application of statistics to medical and biological research captured his attention.

Dr. Zelen joined the National Institutes of Health in 1963. He headed the Mathematical Statistics and Applied Mathematics sections and began his research in the area of clinical trials. Dr. Zelen's contributions in this area include the development of the survival model that served as the forerunner of Cox's celebrated proportional hazards model and the semi-Markov process for analyzing multivariate survival data. Dr. Zelen was also instrumental in the creation of adaptive designs and randomized consent procedures.

After a year as a Fulbright Scholar at the Imperial College and the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, Dr. Zelen became Professor of Statistics at State University of New York Buffalo. There he established a statistical laboratory that served as the training ground for many of today's outstanding biostatisticians.

When former President Nixon declared war on cancer, Dr. Zelen assumed a leadership role by serving as one of the committee chairmen responsible for drafting the new cancer program. Dr. Zelen's commitment to the fight against cancer continued during the 19 years that he provided statistical leadership to the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Program. In 1977, moving his laboratory to the world-renowned Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Zelen established the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology.

As chairman of our department from 1981 to 1990, Dr. Zelen significantly strengthened the department and fostered the professional development of many outstanding biostatisticians. During this tenure in the Department of Biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health, Dr. Zelen continued to attract talented students and to train the next generation of leadership in biostatistics. Thanks to his efforts, the department today ranks as one of the most distinguished biostatistics communities in the world.

Today, Dr. Zelen is still actively pursuing his professional and research activities and continues to serve as president of Frontier Science and Technology Research Foundation.

The Marvin Zelen Leadership Award will recognize an individual in government, industry, or academia, who by virtue of his/her outstanding leadership, has greatly impacted the theory and practice of statistical science. While individual accomplishment will be considered, the most distinguishing criterion will be the awardee's contribution to the creation of an environment in which statistical science and its applications have flourished. The award recipient will deliver a public lecture on statistical science at the Harvard School of Public Health and will be presented with a citation and an honorarium. The awardee will be chosen by a selection committee formed by the Department of Biostatistics.

Nominations for the first award, to be given in May, 1997, should be sent to the Marvin Zelen Leadership Award Committee, Dept. of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115. Nominations should include a letter describing the contributions of the candidate, specifically highlighting the criteria for the award, and a curriculum vita. Supporting letters and materials are welcome but not required. All nominations must be received by January 1, 1997.