Biostatistics & Statistics: A Time Travel (Together)

A Celebration of the 70th and 60th Anniversaries of the Harvard Biostatistics and Statistics Departments

May 5, 2017

Harvard University
Hilles Event Hall, 59 Shepard St | Cambridge

Getting There: We strongly encourage taking public transit or ride-share options, but attendee parking is available at driver’s expense. Please contact Madeleine Straubel for the link and code to park. Note that Harvard’s parking garages are still a walk from the event center.

Our two great departments have been linked from the very beginning. The Department of Vital Statistics was one of four core departments when the Harvard School of Public Health was founded in 1922, being renamed during the 1946-1947 school year to the Department of Biostatistics. The Department of Statistics was quickly approved by faculty at Harvard University Faculty of Arts & Sciences in 1957, with Frederick Mosteller serving as the inaugural Chair. Twenty years later, Mosteller would go on to also chair the Department of Biostatistics.

Now, after 70 years for the Biostatistics Department, and 60 years for the Statistics Department, we’re excited for the opportunity to reflect on where we have been, celebrate all we have achieved, and look ahead to the future of our field.

We hope all Biostats & Stats faculty, students, postdocs, staff, alumni & friends will join us!

Biostatistics History   |   Statistics History   |   Photo Gallery


8:00-8:45am – Breakfast

Sebastien Haneuse & Xiao-Li Meng (event chairs)


Judith Singer, Statistics Dept. Alumna, PhD ’83
Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity
James Bryant Conant Professor of Education, Harvard University

Neil Shephard
Professor of Economics and of Statistics
Department Chair, Harvard Faculty of Arts & Sciences

Xihong Lin
Henry Pickering Walcott Professor of Biostatistics
Chair, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard Chan School


Dave Donoho, Statistics Dept. Alumnus, PhD ’83
Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Humanities and Sciences
Professor of Statistics, Stanford University

9:45-9:50 – Questions

A Unification of the Instrumental Variable Approach for Causal Inference and Missing Data
Eric Tchetgen Tchetgen, Biostatistics Dept. Alumnus, PhD ’06
Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiologic Methods
Departments of Biostatistics & Epidemiology, Harvard Chan School

10:20-10:25 – Questions

10:25-10:30 – Floor discussions (for both speakers)

10:30-10:45 – Break


Uncovering the Mechanisms of General Anesthesia: Where Neuroscience Meets Statistics
Emery N. Brown, MD, Statistics Dept. Alumnus, PhD ’88
Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Medical Engineering and
of Computational Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

11:15-11:20 – Questions

Harvard Biostatistics: Reminiscences over 40 Years
Nancy Cook, Biostatistics Dept. Alumna, ScD ’82
Professor in the Department of Epidemiology
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard Chan School

11:50-11:55 – Questions

11:55-12:00 – Floor discussions (for both speakers)

12:00-1:30 – Lunch

1:30-2:30 – Group Activity (led by students)

Moderators: Cory Zigler & Xiao-Li Meng (event chairs)


Steven L. Scott, Statistics Dept. Alumnus, PhD ’98
Senior Economic Analyst, Google

Don Rubin, Statistics Dept. Alumnus, PhD ’70
John L. Loeb Professor of Statistics, Harvard Faculty of Arts & Sciences

Nanny Wermuth, Statistics Dept. Alumna, PhD ’72
Professor Emerita of Statistics
Chalmers University of Technology Gothenburg, Sweden

Stephen Lake, Biostatistics Dept. Alumnus, ScD ’02
Vice President, Biostatistics and Data Management, Clementia Pharmaceuticals

Tianxi Cai, Biostatistics Dept. Alumna, ScD ’99
Professor of Biostatistics
Department of Biostatistics, Harvard Chan School

Nick Horton, Biostatistics Dept. Alumnus, ScD ’99
Professor of Statistics
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Amherst College

4:30-7:00pm – Closing Remarks, Open Mic & Reception 


Arthur P. Dempster
Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Statistics, Harvard University

Nan Laird, Statistics Dept. Alumna, PhD ’75
Harvey V. Fineberg Research Professor of Public Health
Department of Biostatistics, Harvard Chan School


Event Contacts

Madeleine Straubel:
Shaina Andelman: