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Section Newsletter
Fall 2006

Message from the Chair

Greetings, fellow statisticians and statophiliacs! 


After all that public health and biostatistics have done for me over the years, in terms of providing meaningful employment and exciting opportunities, it is my honor to help out as best I can by serving as your Chair for 2006.  As one of our officers mentioned, it seems the various positions in our Section are filled each year by everyone shuffling hats until everyone who shows up at the annual meetings is wearing one or more. 


It has been one of my aims over the years to bring more statisticians into our Section, and more Section members into active roles in APHA.  One thing that will make it easier, and less forbidding, to be engaged in Section activities is for those of us who have played one or more roles to document what in fact we did and how we did it.  A great example is Craig Turnbull’s write-up of the Spiegelman Awards Committee’s operations of the last year, now posted on our website.  And for anyone contemplating becoming more involved—let me just emphasize how willing all of our members have been to share their expertise with those who are taking on new responsibilities.


Annual Meetings, Philadelphia, December 2005


Outgoing and Incoming Statistics Section Chairs
Marcia Testa (left) and Larry Moulton at APHA 2005
We had a highly stimulating program this year at the Philadelphia meetings.  Thanks to all who had to make changes in their personal and professional lives to attend, given that they were a month later and half a continent away from the original plan!  Many individuals helped to make the meetings a smooth success from the Statistics Section viewpoint—Marcia Testa for all her advice on how to put together the program, both in the big picture and in the details; Brenda Gillespie for handling the local arrangements and parties; Martin Weinrich, Dedun Ingram, and Xihong Lin for their multivarious contributions to our bestowed awards; Mark van der Laan, Janet Eyster, and Richard Klein (and, what the heck, myself) for putting together coherent and informative sessions of invited presentations;  all the others who made presentations in our program, including the JHU students who stepped in at the last minute and ably filled the slots vacated by scheduled presenters who could not attend; and Marcia again for her personal provision of all the food and drink our congregation of statisticians could consume!


Meanwhile, also active in Philadelphia were all our other officers, representing us at Governing Council, Intersectional Council and other meetings.  It is really a marvel how our Section pulls together to get all this done.  Although we are one of the smaller sections, our responsibilities and commitments with respect to APHA are the same as any other, thus creating a larger burden on our members.  But this leads me to another topic--  




As is the case with most of APHA, our numbers have been declining steadily.  Whatever the result of the deliberations regarding designation of multiple Primary Sections and/or votes, we need to get more statisticians entering the association, and greater retention of those who do.  Mian Bazle Hossain has been sending out greetings to joiners, and reminders for lapsers, but we need to do more in terms of getting people into the pipeline.  We got a dozen to sign up with us in Philadelphia, thanks to the proselytizing of our booth staffers!  When I resurrected the booth a couple years ago, I could not have guessed it would be such a hit—new members, repeat “dice customers,” folks looking for quick consults…  But still, we need to do more—in particular, we need to strike up conversations with colleagues about APHA, what it is, and what it can become with more statistics-minded members. 


For those of us in academia, there is a particularly susceptible group—students!  What a great thing for a student to write down in the Professional Societies part of the CV—membership in APHA, demonstrating some commitment to public health per se, which should warm the cockles of many a potential employer’s heart.  My proposal is that we give out as many student memberships as we can, in the hopes that some will be retained over the long run.  This year, I have provided for four students, and will be giving out to up to ten more memberships (only $50 each; and with the strong suggestion they select our Section as Primary) for biostatistics students who participate in our school-wide poster competition, thereby simultaneously achieving two participation goals!  I’m sure many of you can be more creative—start working on it!




Our recent string of Section Chairs has done a tremendous job of increasing the visibility of the Statistics Section in APHA, and in making our calls for scientific credibility known to many.  The upcoming 100th anniversary of our Section (2008!) can serve to showcase not only the contributions the discipline and practice of statistics have made to public health in this country and around the world, but also our relevance to the planning of future public health endeavors.  I want to ask each of you to reflect on how you can best contribute to our milestone activities.  There will be history to write, documents to assemble, sessions to organize, publicity to garner…whatever your imagination can provide! 




The theme for November’s meetings is “Public Health and Human Rights.”  Perhaps not as obviously down our alley as last year’s “Evidence” theme, but definitely related to many of our activities.  For example, the move in recent years toward measuring and eliminating various “health disparities” among population subgroups is predicated on accurate statistics and statistical inference.  The American Statistical Association’s Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights has been very active over the years, demonstrating the many roles statisticians can play in such matters.  I hope to see all of you in Boston, lending your voices of reason to the political fray that marks our Association!   

APHA Meeting 2006: Business Meetings and Social Events



     4:00 PM-7:30 PM Sun:  281.0 Statistics Section Council Meeting (Closed). 

Location: BCEC 251



     6:30 PM-8:00 PM Tue: 438.0 Statistics Section Business Meeting and Social Hour. 

Location:rBCEC  259A


     8:45 PM Tue: Statistics Section Dinner  (contact Bill Pan,, for reservations)

Durgin Park (, 340 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, following the APHA Statistics Section Business Meeting on Tuesday, November 7, 2006.  This is a classic Bostonian restaurant with great food and atmosphere.  All are welcome.

Note large lobster in forground.  Yum.
The dining room at the Durgin Park Restaurant
Directions to dinner from the convention center:

Take the SILVER line from the World Trade Center to South Station (or you can walk to South Station).  Take the RED LINE from South Station to Downtown Crossing then walk 0.4 miles to Faneuil Hall.

OR  Take the ORANGE line from Downtown Crossing to State Street then walk 0.18 miles to Faneuil Hall

OR  Take a taxi to 340 Faneuil Hall Marketplace


HIGXYZ115HIGZYX  The Statistics Section will again sponsor a booth at this year's annual meeting, with free dice for all, and electronic goodies to be randomly allocated to a couple of new members!  Remember to stop by Exhibit Space #105 to say hello.

APHA Meeting 2006: Scientific Sessions

HIGXYZ114HIGZYX  This year marks the official inaugural of the Local Student Session, wherein a group of student papers is presented from the largest Department of Biostatistics within 50 miles of the Annual Meeting.  Thanks to Marcia Testa for organizing this session featuring Harvard students.



Related Files:
Statistics Section Scientific Sessions

2006 Lowell Reed Lecturer: Ted Colton

HIGXYZ101HIGZYX Dr. Theodore (Ted) Colton will be the Lowell Reed lecturer for the 2006 APHA meetings.  Dr. Colton has been an intellectual leader and a force for statistical common sense in biostatistics, epidemiology and clinical trials for decades.  He is currently Vice-President for Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Battelle CRO, Inc., as well as Professor and Chair (Emeritus), Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health.

Ted Colton, Lowell Reed Lecturer
Additional accomplishments include:

  • Co-editor (with Peter Armitage) the Encyclopedia of Biostatistics (2nd edition published in 2005) 

  • A series co-editor for the Wiley Series in Biostatistics

  • A founding co-editor of Statistics in Medicine

  • On the editorial board of Annals of Epidemiology. 

  • A member of 2 federal advisory committees for the Department of Veterans Affairs, one on Environmental Health, and another on the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. 

  • Has an impressive and lengthy list of journal publications.


2006 Spiegelman Award Winner: Francesca Dominici


Francesca Dominici is Associate Professor of Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  In the nine years since she earned her PhD, she has emerged, through her intellect, talent, and determination, as an international leader in statistics, environmental research, and public health.  She has won the prestigious Rosenblith Award from the Health Effects Institute.  She has worked on and made major contribution to the National Morbidity and Mortality Study (NMMAPS) of daily air pollution and health in the largest U.S. cities, and the National Medicare Air Pollution Study (MCAPS), a major cohort study of chronic exposure to air pollution. 

Dr. Dominici has published a substantial body of seminal work in the statistics, environmental epidemiologic, and medical literature; her work has become a key component of the science base on which the U.S. EPA has relied for current air pollution regulation.  Dr. Dominici is an expert in Bayesian statistics and its application to public health problems.  She has worked on (1) models for pooling results from multiple studies, (2) spatial time series methods for air pollution epidemiology, and (3) semi-parametric methods for estimating a mean difference with application to smoking epidemiology.  She has also been a champion for “reproducible research”, the idea that analytic data and software be made available to allow reproduction and criticism of published findings.

2006 Statistics Section Award Winners: Meinert, Bilheimer, Gould

HIGXYZ111HIGZYX    For his leadership and unstinting service promoting the role of randomized, controlled clinical trials. 
Curt Meinert

  • Founding the Center for Clinical Trials
  • Founding, and serving as Editor of, the journal Controlled Clinical Trials
  • Training and mentoring generations of specialists and experts in clinical trials.

HIGXYZ112HIGZYX  For her dedication to linking health policy to research results, such as the Synthesis Project at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  But also, for her lifelong work to apply research results towards better health care and health insurance at the Congressional Budget Office, Mathematica Policy Research, and the Arkansas Department of Health.

HIGXYZ113HIGZYX  For pioneering the development of powerful, reliable, readily extensible, and affordable statistical software for the statistics and public health community, and for nurturing the growth of a true community of users dedicated to helping each other keep that software on the cutting edge of statistical, biostatistical, and social scientific methodology.