Zelen Award

Marvin Zelen Leadership Award in Statistical Science

This Year’s Winner

Xihong LinWe are extremely pleased to announce this year’s recipient of the 2022 Marvin Zelen Leadership Award in Statistical Science!

Dr. Xihong Lin
Professor of Biostatistics and Coordinating Director of the Program in Quantitative Genomics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Professor of Statistics at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University

Dr. Lin will receive the award and deliver a virtual lecture on:

Thursday, May 5, 2022
1:00-2:00pm EST
Via Zoom – Register for Event

Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Statistician’s Reflection

In this talk, I will discuss my experience as a statistician involved in COVID-19 research in multiple capacities in the last two years, especially in the early phase of the pandemic. I will reflect on the challenges and the lessons I have learned in pandemic research regarding data collection and access, epidemic modeling and analysis of the Wuhan and US data, open science and real time dissemination of research findings, implementation science, media and public communication, and partnerships between academia, government, industry and civil society. I will also make several recommendations on preparing for the next stage of the pandemic and for future pandemics.

Described by colleagues as “a force of nature”, “a major star”, and “one of the most influential statistical scientists of our time”, Dr. Lin has distinguished herself as a world leader in statistical methods and applications who has dedicated her career to advancing biostatistics, medicine, and public health.

After earning her PhD at the University of Washington and spending almost 10 years at the University of Michigan, Dr. Lin joined the faculty at Harvard in 2005. Her research has evolved over the years, motivated by the pressing analytical needs in health research. Early in her career, she focused on statistical method development and applications for analysis of longitudinal data and complex observational studies. She became a leader in mixed models, nonparametric and semiparametric regression, missing data, and measurement error for analysis of longitudinal data, and causal inference for complex clinical trials. Later in her career her research shifted to statistical genetics and genomics, with her work becoming a hallmark in statistical methods for analysis of rare variants (RVs) in whole genome sequencing studies. She founded and has been the Coordinating Director of Harvard’s Program in Quantitative of Genomics (PQG) since 2008. Most recently, Dr. Lin has been on the forefront of COVID-19 research, becoming part of a team analyzing the first data out of Wuhan, China and the effectiveness of control measures. In addition to several other efforts, she is the PI of the HowWeFeel project that launched an app in spring 2020 to collect COVID-19 health and exposure data in US and other countries.

Dr. Lin has given back to the statistical and biostatistical community in immeasurable ways through her extraordinary service and leadership. She chaired the Harvard Biostatistics department from 2015-2018, helping to launch an MS program in Health Data Science, one of the first in the nation. As coordinating director of the Program in Quantitative Genomics (PQG), she will help organize its 16th conference, “Emerging Challenges and Opportunities in Gene Editing” later this year. She is the former Chair of the COPSS, and a former member of the Committee of Applied and Theoretical Statistics (CATS) of the National Academy of Science. She is the former Coordinating Editor of Biometrics, the founding co-editor of Statistics in Biosciences, and a former Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association and American Journal of Human Genetics.

Dr. Lin has trained 37 doctoral students as the primary dissertation advisor and 27 postdoctoral fellows, proving to be a dedicated educator, a generous mentor, and a role model throughout her career. She has always made the development and success of junior faculty and students a priority, particularly focusing on supporting women statisticians, and promoting inclusivity and equity. She has been described by her peers as a caring, supportive colleague who is always thinking about others rather than herself.

Through her groundbreaking research, countless initiatives and projects, and the community she has helped grow, Dr. Lin’s transformative ideas and innovative vision have moved the field forward. Reminiscent of the career of the late Marvin Zelen, and in the true spirit of the award, Dr. Lin has “contributed to the creation of an environment in which statistical science and its applications have flourished”.

Career Highlights

  • Mortimer Spiegelman Award, APHA
  • Presidents’ Award, COPSS
  • Janet L. Norwood Award for Outstanding Woman Statistician, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • FN David Award, COPSS
  • Mosteller Statistician of the Year, ASA Boston Chapter
  • Adrienne Cupples Award, Boston University
  • Greenberg Distinguished Lectureship Award, UNC Chapel Hill
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Washington
  • Outstanding Service Award, International Chinese Statistical Association
  • Myrto Lefkopoulou Award, Harvard University
  • Medallion Lecture Award, Institute of Mathematical Statistics
  • Coordinating Director, Program in Quantitative Genomics (PQG)
  • Elected Fellow of the American Statistical Association
  • Elected Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics
  • Elected to the National Academy of Medicine
  • Named one of 50 Changemakers in Public Health by Washington University
  • Published over 330 papers, with over 43300 citations
  • Principal Investigator or Multiple Principal Investigator on six NIH and NSF grants
  • Received the NCI MERIT Award (R37) and the NCI Outstanding Investigator Award
  • Chair of the COPSS
  • Former member of the Committee of Applied and Theoretical Statistics (CATS) of the National Academy of Science
  • Founder, North America Department of Biostatistics Chair Group
  • Co-founder, ENAR Young Researcher Workshop
  • Co-founder, co-founded the ASA Statistical Genetics and Genomics Section
  • Served on the State of Massachusetts COVID-19 Task Force
  • Editor, Computational Biology Series
  • Founding Co-Editor, Statistics in Biosciences  
  • Coordinating Editor, Biometrics
  • Associate Editor: JASA, AJHG, Statistica, Biometrics, Biometrika, Biostatistics
  • Books: Past, Present and Future of Statistical Science and New Developments in Biostatistics and Bioinformatics (Frontiers of Statistics)


About the Award

Marvin_ZelenThis annual award, supported by colleagues, friends and family, was established to honor Dr. Marvin Zelen’s long and distinguished career as a statistician and his major role in shaping the field of biostatistics.

The award recognizes 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 accomplishments are considered, the most distinguishing criterion is 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 virtual lecture on statistical science and will be presented with a citation and an honorarium.


Nominations are welcome for next year’s award, to be given in May 2022.

Please send nominations via email

Nominations should include a letter describing the contributions of the candidate, specifically highlighting the criteria for the award, and a curriculum vita. Other supporting materials would be extremely helpful to the committee.

All nominations must be received by Friday, February 11, 2022.

Previous Award Winners

2021  Marie Davidian
Estimating Vaccine Efficacy Over Time After a Randomized Study is Unblinded

2020  Roderick J. Little
Missing Data Methods: Past, Present and Future

2019  Colin B. Begg
Challenges of Leading a Biostatistics Department in the 21st Century

2018  Constantine Gatsonis
The Evaluation of Diagnostic Imaging in the Era of Radiomics

2017  Richard Simon
Translating Genomics to Personalized Oncology: Key Contributions of Statistical Scientists

2016  Karen Bandeen-Roche
The Flourishing Statistical Environment: How can we tell?

2015  Nan M. Laird
DeSermonian and Laird on Meta-Analysis: Three Second

2014  Xiao-Li Meng
Personalized Treatment: Sounds Heavenly, But Where On Earth Did They Find the Right Guinea Pig For Me

2013  John J. Crowley
A Brief History of Survival Analysis

2012  Nicholas P. Jewell
Counting Civilian Casualties

2011  J.Richard Landis
Methods for Investigating Agreement & Concordance: with Applications in the Biomedical Sciences

2010  Ingram Olkin
Measures of Heterogeneity. Diversity and Inequality

2009  David L. DeMets
Challenges in Clinical Trials; Some Old and Some New

2008  Norman E. Breslow
The Case-Control Study: Origins, Modern Conception and Newly Available Methods of Analysis

2007  Scott L. Zeger
The Symbiosis of Statistical Science and Biomedicine; Past and Future

2006  Mitchell H. Gail
Absolute Risk: Clinical Applications and Controversies

2005  Ross L. Prentice
Chronic disease prevention: Research strategies and needs

2004  Robert C. Elston
The analysis of case-control data to detect candidate genes

2003  Wayne A. Fuller
Analytic studies with complex survey data

2002  Robert O’Neill
A Perspective on the Development and Future of Statistics at the FDA

2001  Niels Keiding
Event Histories and Their Analysis

2000  Lincoln E. Moses
Deciding whether Large Clinical Trials and Meta-analyses Agree or Not

1999  John W. Tukey 
A Smorgasbord of Handy Techniques That Can Help in Analyzing Data

1998  Sir David Roxbee Cox 
Graphical Models in Statistics: A Review

1997  Frederick Mosteller
The Importance of Clinical Trials in Education