Professor Nan Laird’s Retirement Celebration: Many of you attended Nan’s retirement event on May 1. Special thanks go to Professors Garrett Fitzmaurice (SD ‘93) and Christoph Lange, who co-chaired the organizing committee, for their excellent job. Garrett served as Emcee Extraordinaire, introducing presentations by Nan’s former students and postdocs Rebecca DerSimonian (SD ’83), Joe Hogan (SD ’95), Christoph Lange, and Kristin Javaras. The wide range of Nan’s influential statistical contributions – from missing data and longitudinal studies, to genetics and meta-analysis were explored, as was Nan’s exceptional success as an inspirational role model and mentor to her many students and colleagues. Illustrating this perfectly were Fong Wang Clow (SD ‘89) and her husband Eric Clow, who established a major scholarship fund in Nan’s honor. Financially supporting our doctoral students, and in particular our international students, is the continuing focus for our departmental fundraising efforts, so Fong and Eric’s gift was especially appreciated by all.
To no one’s surprise, Nan’s retirement is really more of a transition, as she will continue her work in the Department in her new role as Harvey V. Fineberg Research Professor.
Marvin Zelen’s Memorial Event and Leadership Lecture: Working with Frontier Science and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, the Department organized a special Memorial Service for Marvin Zelen on May 22. As part of the event, Nan Laird presented the 2015 Zelen Leadership Award lecture, “Repurposing DerSimonian and Laird for Big Data Meta-Analysis.” Special thanks go to the organizing committee (Professor Tianxi Cai [SD ’99] Chair, Sr. Research Scientist Su-Chun Cheng [SD’95], Professor Rich Gelber, Shari Gelber, and Greg Pavlov) for their excellent job in making the day unforgettable. The Memorial featured a wide range of speakers representing Marvin’s family and the amazing breadth of his scientific and professional activities. For many, one of the highpoints was remarks given by the Reverend Bruce Young, who helped inspire Marvin and Steve Lagakos to get involved in what came to be known as the Woburn Study. Another highpoint was the video Marvin and Thelma Zelen’s grandson Toby Mues made about his grandfather. Hundreds of Marvin’s friends, family members and colleagues from near and far joined us; it was a wonderful day honoring a wonderful man. (And a special shout-out to David and Adrian Lagakos – it was great to see them!) You can read more about the Memorial here.
One of the results of planning for Marvin’s memorial was the growing realization that we need to better document the Department’s history. The Woburn Study, which started some 30 years ago, in particular presents a great opportunity to collect and organize oral histories, as well as to collect and preserve important written documents. That project will begin this summer. But we have many other important stories to tell. We are fortunate to have the encouragement and expertise of the School’s Archivist, along with the backing of the Center for the History of Medicine at Countway Library (which organizes and preserves archival documents for the Harvard Chan School and Harvard Medical School). If you are interested in participating in the collection of oral histories and documents relating to our Department’s history and notable activities, please contact Phoebe Hackett.