We are extremely pleased to announce that Dr. Jeffrey T. Leek, Vice President, Chief Data Officer, and J. Orin Edson Foundation Professor of Public Health Sciences at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, will be the recipient of the 2022 Myrto Lefkopoulou Distinguished Lectureship! Dr. Leek is scheduled to give an in-person lecture (also available via Zoom) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on Thursday, September 22. More details to follow. — Through his expansive and invaluable research, passion for scientific communication, and innovation and leadership in education, Dr. Leek has distinguished himself as one of the most influential statisticians of his generation. His impact has been felt not just in academia, but in society at large. With the unprecedented surge in visibility of data analysis and data-driven science, Dr. Leek played a pivotal role in preserving the integrity of the discipline and showing the world its importance. Dr. Leek has published seminal work that spans broad areas from latent variable models, to false discovery rates, and applications to genomics. His innovative ideas and tools have inspired an entirely new area of research within the statistical community, including the widely used Surrogate Variable Analysis (SVA) algorithm, a solution to batch effects described in a 2007 paper which has been cited over 1,000 times. His response to other statistical challenges has led to more important contributions such as recount, a multi-experiment resource of analysis-ready RNA-seq gene count datasets. Dr. Leek helped develop the tool to automatically process all publicly available data into manageable datasets ready for download, which quickly became an invaluable resource that many people in the field count on for their work. Dr. Leek has also been a major voice for the statistical and data science community, starting the extremely popular Simply Statistics blog with Roger Peng and Rafa Irizarry. Through this blog, he has shared significant ideas related to the importance of statistical thinking in data analysis and encourages statistical experts to get more involved in work that requires data analysis skills. One example of the influential nature of his blogs is his post “The keyword in “Data Science” is not Data, it is Science” which is cited for the definition of data science in the first sentence of the Wikipedia article on data science. Collectively, his posts have been read more than 1 million times. Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Leek has dedicated an enormous amount of his time and effort to data science education. He developed one of the first and most successful data science online educational programs, now having enrolled more than 8 million people in his online open courses. More recently Dr. Leek launched Data Trail, a no-cost educational program aimed at equipping members of underserved communities with the skills and support required to work in data science. The program provides a unique mutually-intensive learning experience (MILE) that supports both scholars in gaining technical and soft skills needed to enter the data science field, and mentors in training needed to be impactful mentors and informed colleagues on diverse data science teams. Dr. Leek truly embodies the spirit of this award that honors the legacy of Dr. Myrto Lefkopoulou. We look forward to honoring him and continuing to follow his outstanding career. — Dr. Leek received his PhD in Biostatistics in 2007 from the University of Washington’s Department of Biostatistics under Professor John Storey, writing his thesis on “Surrogate variable analysis.” After a postdoctoral fellowship at Mount Sinai, he became a postdoc and later rose to professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where he also was the Co-Director of Johns Hopkins Data Science Lab. In 2022, Dr. Leek accepted at role at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where he is currently Vice President, Chief Data Officer, and J. Orin Edson Foundation Professor of Public Health Sciences.See website for more career highlights and a list of previous award recipients.
Department of Biostatistics