Nan Laird

Harvey V. Fineberg Research Professor of Public Health, Emerita

Department of Biostatistics

Nan M. Laird is the Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of Biostatistics (Emerita) at Harvard University. During her more than forty years on the faculty, she developed many simple and practical statistical methods for pressing public health and medical problems. Her work on the EM Algorithm, with Art Dempster and Don Rubin, is among the top 100 most cited of all published articles in science. She has also developed popular and widely used methods for meta-analysis, longitudinal data and statistical genetics. She has worked in several areas of applications, including the quantification of adverse events in hospitals, childhood obesity, and genetic studies in Alzheimer’s disease, Bipolar disorder, asthma and lung disease. She has supervised over 30 doctoral and postdoctoral fellows at Harvard Biostatistics, and written two books widely used as texts, one on longitudinal data analysis with Garrett Fitzmaurice and Jim Ware, and another on the statistical analysis of genetic data with Christoph Lange. She has served on numerous committees for the NIH and NSF, including a National Academy of Sciences Committee on Cabin Air Quality which recommended the current ban on smoking in airplanes. She has received numerous awards including the 2011 Samuel S. Wilks Award from the American Statistical Association, the 25th Annual Lowell Reed Lecturer from the American Public Health Association in 2011, and the 2015 Marvin Zelen Award for Leadership in the Statistical Sciences.


  • Statistical methods for the analysis of data collected in public health and medical investigations, including:

Missing or incomplete observations
Data collected on individuals repeatedly, or over time
Health outcomes or exposures measured by multiple sources or Informants
Random Effects models for analysis of complex-multisource  data

  • Combining the results of separate but parallel investigations, e. g. meta-analysis and Empirical Bayes
  • Statistical methods studying association between genetic variants and disease, especially using data from families


Ph.D., Statistics  |  Harvard University, 1975
B.S., Statistics  |  University of Georgia, 1969


Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of Biostatistics, Emerita |  2019-Present
Harvey V. Fineberg Research Professor of Biostatistics  |  2015-2019
Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of Biostatistics  |  2011-2015
Professor, Department of Biostatistics  |  1986-2015
Associate Member, Broad Institute  |  2006-2014
Henry Pickering Walcott Professor of Biostatistics and Department Chair  |  1991-1999
Senior Visiting Research Associate, Dept of Statistics, University of Lancaster, England  |  Spring 1980
Assistant Professor, Depts of Biostatistics and Statistics, Harvard University  |  1975-1981

Curriculum Vitae


Statistician of the Year, Chicago Chapter of the American Statistical Association  |  2016
Marvin Zelen Award for Leadership in the Statistical Sciences  |  2015
25th Annual Lowell Reed Lecturer, American Public Health Association  |  2011
Samuel S. Wilks Award, American Statistical Association  |  2011
Distinguished Speaker, Distinguished Women Scholars in Statistics University of Buffalo  |  2011
Distinguished Lecturer, Department of Biostatistics, Duke University  |  2008
George Challis Award, Dept. of Statistics, University of Florida  |  2006
Janet Norwood Prize, American Statistical Association  |  2001
F.N. David Award, American Statistical Association  |  1996
Statistician of the Year, Boston Chapter of the American Statistical Association  |  1995
Fellow, Institute of Mathematical Statistics  |  1992
Fellow, American Statistical Association |  1983


Google Scholar  |  PubMed


Introduction to Modern Methods of Statistical Genetics
Laird NM and Lange C. Springer. 2011.

Applied Longitudinal Analysis
Fitzmaurice GM, Laird NM and Ware JH. Wiley- Interscience: Hoboken, N.J. 2004.

Analysis of Longitudinal and Cluster-Correlated Data
Laird NM. NSF- CBMS. Regional Conference Series in Probability and Statistics, Volume 8. Published by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and the American Statistical Association. 2004.