John Quackenbush to Serve as New Department Chair

We are extremely pleased to announce that effective today, August 13, 2018, John Quackenbush, PhD, Professor of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, will serve as the new chair of the Department of Biostatistics.

The message below is adapted from Dean Michelle Williams’ announcement:

John Quackenbush is a recognized leader in computational and systems biology. He recently received a prestigious R35 grant from the National Cancer Institute for his methods development work. His research involves the use of biological “big data” to better understand the biological processes driving human health and disease and to identify potential therapeutic interventions. His work recognizes that it is not individual genes that drive biological systems, but rather complex networks of interacting genes that influence the development and progression of disease and its response to therapy. By modeling cellular networks in diseases ranging from breast, ovarian, colon, and lung cancer to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, John has gained insight into the link between genetics and the physical manifestation of traits and has opened up new avenues of investigation in network medicine. He and his research group are also actively involved in using statistical and machine learning methods with radiographic and histological imaging data to better predict disease risk and response to therapy.

John earned a PhD and MS in theoretical physics from the University of California, Los Angeles. He joined the School’s faculty in 2005, following many years on the faculty of The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Maryland. John has been extremely active at the School, including serving as the founding director of the Master of Science in Computational Biology and Quantitative Genetics. Additionally, he holds faculty appointments at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Channing Division of Network Medicine.

We extend our deep gratitude to Xihong Lin for her highly productive years and outstanding leadership as the current chair of the department. Xihong is stepping down to focus on two large national whole genome sequencing programs: the Genome Sequencing Program (GSP) of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and the Trans-Omics Precision Medicine Program (TOPMed) of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Under Xihong’s direction, the biostatistics department added four faculty members, launched the Master of Science program in Health Data Science, built a strong tie with the Department of Statistics at FAS and the Department of Biomedical Informatics at HMS, and expanded investigation into areas that include the development and application of statistical and computational methods for big genetic, public health and medical data.

Please join us in expressing our thanks to Xihong and welcoming John in his new role!