International Women's Day 2023

In observation of International Women's Day 2023, here's a view of our department:

National Women's History Month poster 2023

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, quality assurance analyst Vinni Yenukonda, professor Fei Ye, PhD student Elisa Yazdani, MS student Lydia Yao, postdoc Jing Yang, PhD student Yan Yan, PhD student Bailu Lucy Yan, lead biostatistician Meng Xu
ROW 2: biostatistician Ke Xu, PhD student Jiangmei Ruby Xiong, research professor Pingsheng Wu, application developer Hui Wu, PhD student Julia Whitman, PhD student Valerie Welty, PhD student Hannah Weeks, lead biostatistician Li Wang, research assistant professor Jing Wang, chief business officer Janey Wang
ROW 3:  PhD student Shengxin Tu, PhD student Julia Thome, health services research analyst Afan Swan, PhD student Tianyi Sun, senior biostatistician Lili Sun, associate program manager Kayla Sullivan, program manager Cierra Streeter, biostatistician Tess Stopczynski, biostatistician Ine Sohn, adjunct instructor Ayumi Shintani
ROW 4: lead biostatistician Yaping Shi, PhD student Lan Shi, research assistant professor Laurie Samuels, biostatistician Paridhi Ranadive, statistical genetic analyst III Marisol Ramirez-Solano, associate professor Rameela Raman, senior biostatistician Heather Prigmore, associate Sharon Phillips, lead biostatistician Amy Perkins, research associate professor Jackie Pennings, biostatistician Rebecca Owens, application developer Savannah Obregon
ROW 5: assistant in biostatistics Hui Nian, educational programs manager Chazlie Miller
ROW 6: senior biostatistician Elizabeth McNeer, associate biostatistician Cara Lwin, associate professor Qi Liu, assistant professor Jinyuan Liu, associate professor Dandan Liu, adjoint assistant professor Pei-Ying Emily Lin, biostatistician Yajing Li, postdoc Jia Li, PhD student Lisa Levoir, senior program manager Jess Lai
ROW 7:  MS student Yeji Ko, PhD student Jamie Joseph, MS student Megan Taylor Jones, biostatistician Cassie Johnson, biostatistician Xiangyu Ji, lead biostatistician Cathy Jenkins, research assistant professor Li-Ching Huang, senior financial analyst Sandra Hewston, biostatistician Cassie Hennessy, assistant in biostatistics Kim Hart
ROW 8: MS student Megan Hall, assistant professor Amber Hackstadt, business process manager Nicole Gunnison, senior associate Tebeb Gebretsadik, VICTR associate director Cheryl L. Gatto, biostatistician Yue Gao, PhD student Alexis Fleming, research professor Irene Feurer, senior biostatistician Xiaoke Sarah Feng, principal biostatistician Run Fan, health services research analyst Andrea Elhajj
ROW 9: research assistant professor Svetlana Eden, senior program manager Peg Duthie, research assistant professor Liping Du, PhD student Chiara Di Gravio, professor Mary Dietrich, associate program manager Margaret Cullum, grants manager Pattie Council, vice chair of diversity and inclusion Leena Choi, research assistant professor Sheau-Chiann Chen, vice chair of education Qingxia Cindy Chen
ROW 10: research associate professor Heidi Chen, PhD student Marisa Blackman, biostatistician Caroline Birdrow, project manager Heather Bickham, principal biostatistician Aihua Bian, vice chair of informatics and collaborative programs Lynne Berry, adjunct instructor Mary Banach, assistant to the chair Jena Altstatt, health services research analyst Onika Abrams

WSDS 2022

The 2022 Women in Statistics and Data Science Conference was hosted by the American Statistical Association in St. Louis from October 6 through October 8. Participants associated with our department included the following:

Sarah Lotspeich (a graduate of our PhD program), presenting author of "One size fits all: A generalized algorithm to fitting GLMs with censored predictors in R" and chair of "Celebrating our Knowledge"

Tess Stopczynski (biostatistician), presenting author of "Handling limit of detection values for sepsis biomarkers in neonates," co-authored by senior associate (Gregory) Dan Ayers, with Jörn-Hendrik Weitkamp from the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation

Tianyi Sun (PhD student), presenting author of "Submodel approximation under preconditioning outcome approach." Co-authored by associate professor Dandan Liu.

Congratulations to all!


Vanderbilt Biostatistics Bulletin - October 2022 issue

The October 2022 issue of our department newsletter is now available. We have so much to celebrate, and we're looking forward to sharing more good news in the weeks to come!  

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

Service Milestones

We are so pleased to recognize the following milestones for members of our faculty and staff:

  Years at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

William D. Dupont, professor

Fei Ye, professor


Li Wang, lead biostatistician


Chris Slaughter, associate professor


Sharon E. Phillips, associate in biostatistics


Samuel Nwosu, lead biostatistician


Mario Davidson, assistant professor


Bob Johnson, associate professor


Derek K. Smith, assistant professor


Quanhu "Tiger" Sheng, assistant professor

Laurie Samuels, research assistant professor


Chris Lindsell, professor


Omair A. Khan, senior biostatistician

Jenny Jones, assistant to the chair



Bill Dupont

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).