Vanderbilt Biostatistics at JSM 2022

The 2022 Joint Statistical Meetings, which begin this Saturday, August 6, are expected to bring together more than six thousand attendees from over fifty countries. We are proud of the department members and alumni who will be sharing their work in Washington, DC, next week. They include the following:

Sunday, August 7

At 2:00 p.m., in session 9, assistant professor Simon Vandekar will present an invited paper, "Cell Normalization and Phenotyping for Multiplexed Single-Cell Imaging," that he co-authored with recent PhD graduate Coleman Harris (now at Nashville Biosciences) and current PhD student Jiangmei Ruby Xiong.

Also at 2:00 p.m., in session 23, associate professor Benjamin French will present his topic contributed paper, "Statistical Analysis of Atomic Bomb Survivor Data: Challenges and Opportunities." This session will also feature "Evaluation of Sources of Bias in Time-Dependent Radiation Dose Response Models for Individual Cohorts and Challenges Associated with Pooling in the Million Worker Study," which French co-authored with colleagues in Oak Ridge and Yeji Ko, a student in our MS program.

At 4:00 p.m., in session 37, assistant professor Andrew Spieker will present an invited paper, "A Semiparametric G-Computation Approach Based on Cumulative Probability Models," that he co-authored with biostatistician Caroline Birdrow (a graduate of our MS program) and professor Bryan Shepherd. Shepherd co-authored two papers in the session: 


Monday, August 8

At 8:30 a.m., session 90 will feature invited papers on "Dealing with Error-Prone Electronic Health Record Data via Validation Sampling," with Bryan Shepherd as organizer and chair. He co-authored "Advantages of Multi-Wave, Multi-Frame Sampling Designs for Analysis of Error-Prone Data from Electronic Health Records," which will be presented by Pamela Shaw from Kaiser Permanente, and "Implementing an Optimal Multi-Wave Validation Design in a Multi-National HIV Research Cohort," which will be presented by research assistant professor Gustavo Amorim.

Also at 8:30 a.m., assistant professor Jinyuan Liu will be chairing session 109, which will feature six contributed papers on "Innovative Approaches in Biomarkers Discovery and Subgroup Analyses."   

At 10:30 a.m., in the Mental Health Statistics Section's poster session, PhD candidate Kaidi Kang will present a poster, "Accurate Confidence Interval Estimation for Non-Centrality Parameters and Effect Size Indices," co-authored with five other Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers: Kristan Armstrong, Suzanne Avery, Maureen McHugo, Stephan Heckers, and Simon Vandekar.

At 2:00 p.m., the Statistics in Imaging Section showcases its student paper winners, in a session organized and chaired by Simon Vandekar.

The Biometrics Section is likewise featuring early-career paper winners at 2:00 p.m., in a session chaired by Andrew Spieker.


Tuesday, August 9

At 8:30 a.m., a paper co-authored by professor Qingxia (Cindy) Chen, "Estimation of Treatment Effects and Model Diagnostics with Two-Way, Time-Varying Treatment Switching," will be presented in the topic contributed session on "Statistical Considerations for Adjusting Overall Survival in Randomized Trials with Treatment Switching." 

At 10:30 a.m., another topic contributed session sponsored by the Biopharmaceutical Section will include "Testing and Estimating Treatment Effect in the Presence of Delayed Onset of the Effect for Cancer Immunotherapies," a paper co-authored by Hui Nian, assistant in biostatistics and orthopedic surgery.

At 2:00 p.m., session 312, "What We Know About What We Don't Know: Overcoming Incomplete Data in Practice," will be chaired by Sarah C. Lotspeich, a graduate of our doctoral program who's now an assistant professor in the new Department of Statistical Sciences at Wake Forest University. The invited papers in this session include "Missing Data in the Baseline Health Surveys of the All of Us Research Program and the Opportunity from Multiple Information Sources," which will be presented by Cindy Chen; her collaborators include biostatistician Xiaoke (Sarah) Feng and assistant Shawn Garbett.


Wednesday, August 9

At 2:00 p.m., in session 488, Jiangmei Ruby Xiong will present a contributed paper titled "Faster Estimation for Constrained Gamma Mixture Models Using Closed-Forms Estimators." The paper was co-authored by Simon Vandekar and an array of prominent School of Medicine scientists.

Congratulations and safe travels to all!

Founding chair appointed to FDA

The FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) has appointed Dr. Frank Harrell, professor of biostatistics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, as a senior biostatistics advisor to the Office of the Center Director under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Mobility Program. CDER’s mission is to protect and promote public health by helping to ensure that human drugs are safe and effective for their intended use, meet established quality standards, and available to patients.


Under this appointment, Harrell will serve as a senior advisor to CDER on innovative and novel models for biostatistical analysis to facilitate the regulatory drug review in therapeutic areas with underserved populations or unmet medical needs. Harrell will advise the center on advanced approaches to drug regulatory pathways, optimization of regulatory science models, and complex statistical analysis methodologies and clinical trial designs.


The IPA Mobility Program provides for the temporary assignment of personnel between the federal government and state and local governments, colleges and universities, Indian tribal governments, federally funded research and development centers, and other eligible organizations. The program is a critical tool that allows federal agencies to access academicians or clinical experts on a part-time basis to bolster existing or new initiatives.


Harrell previously served as an advisor to the FDA CDER Office of Biostatistics from 2016 to 2020 and has been a long-time consultant to the FDA. "I am excited to serve in this important role at the request of the CDER director as part of my VUMC appointment, and look forward to contributing to making clinical trials more efficient and flexible, as well as to fostering development of statistical methods to analyze new types of patient outcomes in therapeutic clinical trials. My last two years of working with my Vanderbilt biostatistics and VICTR colleagues on the design and analysis of many high-profile Vanderbilt-led COVID-19 clinical trials has given me experience and ideas that I plan to put into use at FDA."

Celebrating our first VBSIUU cohort

Leena Choi and interns stand in front of the scientific posters that reflect their work this summer

Left to right: Leena Choi, Akshat Vasisht, Mary Guirguis, Rajala Bean

On Friday, July 1, the Vanderbilt Biostatistics Summer Internship for Underrepresented Undergraduates program celebrated the conclusion of its inaugural season with presentations by its participants. The above photograph (by department chair Yu Shyr) shows them in front of scientific posters about the research they performed. Mary Guirguis and Akshat Vasisht investigated "Reproducibility and Quality Control for Combination Drug Screening" in collaboration with PhD student Elisa Yazdani and faculty mentor Amir Asiaee. Raja Bean focused on "SEPSIGN: early identification of SEPsis SIGNs in emergency department" in collaboration with faculty mentor Chris Lindsell and biostatistician Cassie Hennessy.

In addition to conducting research and attending classes on statistics and computing, the interns received professional development training from staff and faculty on topics such as writing CVs, resumes, and personal statements; creating statistical reports, posters, and oral presentations; and preparing for interviews. The program also featured lunches with department members. It was headed by Leena Choi, professor of biostatistics and vice chair of diversity and inclusion.

Bean expects to receive her bachelor's degree in health sciences in Spring 2023; in addition to her school and work commitments, she is active with Love You Like a Sister, Alpha Kappa Alpha, ThriftSmart (a Nashville store whose proceeds benefit African Leadership, the Belize Project, Mercy Community Healthcare, and New Hope Academy), and Nashville General Hospital's Food Tote Delivery program. Guirguis is a computer science student at Middle Tennessee State University; her experiences include working as a pharmacy technician at Polaris, programming a virtual reality horror project during MTSU's hackathon, and volunteering for Second Harvest. Vasisht, from Brentwood High School, is an aspiring software engineer, an American Red Cross ambassador, and a teen board member and volunteer with the John P. Holt Brentwood Library.

The internship information page will be updated when the application period for the 2023 program is about to open. 

Vanderbilt Biostatistics Bulletin - May 2022 issue

The May 2022 issue of our department newsletter is now available. We have upcoming events, incoming faculty, and recent honors to celebrate! 


Front page of the May 2022 Biostatistics Bulletin. Click "available" to view or download the full issue.

May 16 Symposium on Implementation Research in the Learning Health System

Here are new and updated details about the upcoming Vanderbilt Symposium on Implementation Research in the Learning Health System


The planning committee includes professor Chris Lindsell and research assistant professor Cheryl L. Gatto.

Symposium registration:

Abstract submission for poster reception:

Project proposal submission for workshop: 


Cash prizes will be awarded to the best poster submissions (due April 29).

In celebration of Women's History Month

Gallery of Vanderbilt Biostatistics women

Visit the Our People section of this site to learn more about our department members.

TOP ROW: senior associate Yuwei Zhu, PhD student Siwei Zhang, associate quality assurance analyst Vinni Yenukonda, associate professor Fei Ye, PhD student Elisa Yazdani, MS student Lydia Yao, postdoc Jing Yang, PhD student Yan Yan, PhD student Bailu (Lucy) Yan, principal biostatistician Meng Xu

ROW 2: PhD student Jiangmei Xiong, research professor Pingsheng Wu, application developer Hui Wu, PhD student Julia Whitman, PhD student Valerie Welty, adjunct professor Liping Wei, PhD student Hannah Weeks, lead biostatistician Li Wang, research assistant professor Jing Wang, chief business officer Janey Wang

ROW 3: biostatistician Guanchao Wang, PhD student Shengxin Tu, PhD student Yuqi Tian, PhD student Julia Thome, MS student Megan Taylor, health services research analyst Afan Swan, PhD student Tianyi Sun, biostatistician Lili Sun, associate program manager Cierra Streeter

ROW 4: biostatistician Tess Stopczynski, biostatistician Ine Sohn, PhD student Elizabeth Sigworth, adjunct instructor Ayumi Shintani, lead biostatistician Yaping Shi, PhD student Lan Shi, research assistant professor Laurie Samuels, biostatistician Paridhi Ranadive, associate professor Rameela Ran, statistical genetic analyst III Marisol Ramirez-Solano, senior biostatistician Heather Prigmore

ROW 5: associate Sharon Phillips, principal biostatistician Amy Perkins, application developer Savannah Obregon, associate Huin Nian, PhD student Jacquelyn Neal, PhD student Megan Hollister Murray, educational programs manager Chazlie Miller, senior biostatistician Elizabeth McNeer, PhD student Cara Lwin, associate professor Qi Liu

ROW 6: associate professor Dandan Liu, adjoint assistant professor Pei Ying (Emily) Lin, biostatistician Yaping Li, postdoc Jia Li, MS student Yeji Ko, senior biostatistician Ahra Kim, PhD student Jamie Joseph, assistant to the chair Jenny Jones, biostatistician Xiangyu Ji, lead biostatistician Cathy Jenkins

ROW 7: biostatistician Rebecca Irlmeier, research assistant professor Li-Ching Huang, senior financial analyst Sandra Hewston, biostatistician Cassie Hennessy, principal biostatistician Kim Hart, biostatistician Alese Halvorson, assistant professor Amber Hackstadt, budget/accounting analyst Nicole Gunnison, senior associate Tebeb Gebretsadik, VICTR associate director Cheryl L. Gatto, biostatistician Yue Gao

ROW 8: research professor Irene Feurer, biostatistician Xiaoke (Sarah) Feng, principal biostatistician Run Fan, research assistant professor Svetlana Eden, communications manager Peg Duthie, assistant Liping Du, PhD student Chiara Di Gravio, professor Mary Dietrich, grants manager Pattie Council, MS student Kirsten Cottingham, vice chair of diversity and inclusion Leena Choi

ROW 9: research assistant professor Sheau-Chiann Chen, director of post-graduate studies and distance learning Qingxia (Cindy) Chen, research assistant professor Heidi Chen, administrative manager Audrey Carvajal, PhD student Marisa Blackman, biostatistician Caroline Birdrow, principal biostatistician Aihua Bian, vice chair of informatics and collaborative programs Lynne Berry, adjunct instructor Mary Banach, associate program manager Jena Altstatt

May 16 Implementation Research Symposium

Note: this blog post has been superseded by the April 19 update about symposium opportunities.


Vanderbilt Center for Clinical Quality and Implementation Research and the Vanderbilt CTSA/VICTR Learning Healthcare System are co-sponsoring an in-person symposium on May 16. More details are forthcoming. The planning committee includes professor Chris Lindsell and research assistant professor Cheryl L. Gatto, and there will be a poster session (submissions welcome through April 25; see the symposium webpage for guidelines).


Save the date: Vanderbilt Symposium on Implementation Research in the Learning Health System

Health & Wellness

Spring has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere. To quote the poet Tennyson, "In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove." (The state flower of Tennessee is the iris.)

Spring is also a great time to set new self-care goals. The Department of Biostatistics has a long-standing relationship with Vanderbilt's Health & Wellness initiative. Senior associate Dan Byrne helped create the award-winning Go for the Gold program in 2003, and with biostatistician Ryan Moore provides support for "The Healthy Pulse," a feature that appears on the back page of each issue of Connection, which is mailed to all Vanderbilt employees. 

Healthy Pulse graphic from the February issue, created by Daniel Byrne and Ryan Moore. Republished here with permission from Health & Wellness.

Spotlight on Samuel Nwosu and Jubilee Tan

Lead biostatistician Samuel Nwosu was featured in the March 17 issue of the ACTIV-6 Site Newsletter, and application developer Jubilee Tan in the March 4 edition. The interviews are republished here with permission of the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

Data Coordinating Center Spotlights

Samuel Nwosu

What is your role on ACTIV-6? 

Provide assistance with data management, create trial summary reports, perform data validations, and help with implementing the trial's interim analyses.


What activities or hobbies do you enjoy outside of work? 

I enjoy spending time with my family, a good jog, and the occasional adventurous/extreme activity.


Why do you think ACTIV-6 is important? 

This trial is at the forefront to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and provide a pathway to ending this global pandemic.


What drives and motivates you about working on the ACTIV-6 study? 

Knowing that the work I do is part of a bigger community to assist in the fight against COVID-19. Hopefully my effort within the ACTIV-6 study will help everyone get back to some sense of normalcy


Jubilee Tan

What is your role on ACTIV-6?

I maintain and upgrade automated information systems among four roles: participants, pharmacy, the call center, and biometric analysts.


What activities or hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?

When I get off work, I usually spend time with family, watch movies, and fix some issues in open source community.


Why do you think ACTIV-6 is important?

Since COVID changed our lives two years ago, many families may have faced a very big change, not only the loss of life, but also social distancing and economic shock. This project is an opportunity to turn things around so that people can go back to life before the pandemic.


What drives and motivates you about working on the ACTIV-6 study?

This project is about helping people fight COVID, and I feel very motivated every time I think about this work that could lead to an earlier end to the pandemic.

The ACTIV-6 study is reaching out to prospective participants in Spanish as well as English.