Andrew Spieker promoted to associate professor

We are pleased to announce the promotion of Dr. Andrew Spieker to associate professor of biostatistics (investigator track, with tenure), effective as of June 1. A graduate of Northeastern University (BS, mathematics) and the University of Washington (PhD, biostatistics), with postdoctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Spieker joined our department in 2018. His primary research interests involve the development of causal inference approaches in observational studies and randomized trials. He has sought to address a wide array of causal inference challenges in his research, including endogeneity bias, censoring of cost outcomes in health policy studies, within-subject correlation in studies of immunological markers, and sensitivity analyses for instrumental variable approaches. His methodological contributions are motivated by real-world challenges encountered in public health. His accomplishments include extending the joint modeling framework for observational studies of cardiovascular biomarker outcomes, with the R package endogenous to support this approach; developing new methods suitable for analysis of cost outcomes, particularly for population-level health policy guidance and resource allocation; and providing leadership in methods development and manuscript preparation for high-impact trials of mobile health interventions to support disease management and medication adherence. 

Dr. Spieker is also in demand for cancer-related studies and other investigations, and he is an active commentator and committee member both in causal inference circles and the wider statistical community. He was appointed associate editor of Observational Studies in 2021 and Biometrics Section program chair for the American Statistical Association’s Joint Statistical Meetings in 2022, and he serves on the Eastern North American Region (ENAR) advisory board for the International Biometric Society.

A thoughtful, highly engaged educator, Dr. Spieker was named Outstanding Faculty Mentor by the biostatistics student body in 2020 and 2023, and they awarded him the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2021. A 2024 inductee into School of Medicine's Academy for Excellence in Education, he is a mainstay of the Center for Quantitative Sciences’ Summer Institute, founder/organizer of Vanderbilt’s Causal Inference Workshop, chair of the graduate program’s comprehensive exam committee, and co-chair of the faculty recruitment committee.



Andrew Spieker teaching during the 2023 Summer Institute

Joshua DeClercq promoted to principal biostatistician

We are delighted to announce the promotion of Josh DeClercq to principal biostatistician, in effect as of May 1. A 2018 graduate of our department's MS program, DeClercq previously earned his bachelor's degree in genetics at the University of California, Davis, and worked at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, New York University School of Medicine, and Sangamo Biosciences before moving to Nashville. His primary collaborations include Vanderbilt Specialty Pharmacy, the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and the Center for Research and Innovation in Systems Safety, and he won our department's 2020 Linda Stewart Applied Analysis Report Award for his project on healthcare costs and utilization. His interests outside of work include cooking, hiking, camping, listening to heavy metal, and having fun with his daughters.

DeClercq has published more than 25 peer-reviewed papers to date, often in collaborations with professor Leena Choi and senior associate Dan Ayers. Recent articles about and examples of DeClercq's work include:

As a member of the ACTIV-4 Host Tissue team, he also co-authored the widely read 2023 JAMA report on angiotensin-based treatments among COVID-19 patients.


Josh DeClercq (right), with senior biostatistician Ryan Moore (left) and professor Leena Choi (center). Photo: Donn Jones / Vanderbilt University Medical Center

First-authored paper in Journal of Biomedical Informatics by Andrew Guide

Congratulations to senior biostatistician Andrew Guide on the publication of "Identifying erroneous height and weight values from adult electronic health records in the All of Us research program." This paper was published online ahead of print on May 23 in the Journal of Biomedical Informatics and is scheduled to appear in the July 2024 print issue. Co-authors include assistant in biostatistics Shawn Garbett and professor Paul Harris, with professor Qingxia "Cindy" Chen as corresponding author, plus colleagues in Vanderbilt's Department of Biomedical Informatics, at The Ohio State University, and at Columbia University. Here is the graphical abstract of the paper:

Registration is open for the 2024 Summer Institute

Registration is now open for the 2024 CQS Summer Institute. This year's offerings include three in-person courses at 2525 West End Avenue, and one virtual course on Zoom.

The morning course (9 a.m.–noon) the first week of the Summer Institute (July 22–26) will feature "Big Data in Biomedical Research," taught by Qi Liu, PhD, professor of biostatistics and biomedical informatics, and Yu Shyr, PhD, professor of biostatistics, biomedical informatics, and health policy. "Introduction to the All of Us Research Program," with course directors Paul Harris, PhD, professor of biomedical informatics, biomedical engineering, and biostatistics, and Qingxia "Cindy" Chen, PhD, professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics and vice chair of education for the Department of Biostatistics, will be in the afternoon (1–4 p.m.) over Zoom.

The second week (July 29–August 2) will feature "Regression and Modeling in R," taught by Gustavo Amorim, PhD, assistant professor of biostatistics in the morning, and "Introduction to Causal Inference," taught by Andrew Spieker, PhD, assistant professor of biostatistics in the afternoon.

Tuition for each course is $700 for VU/VUMC faculty and staff, and $450 for VU/VUMC students, trainees, and postdocs, with a 20% discount on registrations received before June 5. Parking and food are included for in-person courses, with breakfast for morning course participants and boxed lunches for all. The All of Us course is limited to 40 participants. To learn more about each course and to enroll, visit the Summer Institute webpage.



Statistical Computing Series: Cloud, StatComp3, and ACCRE computation

The Department of Biostatistics' Statistical Computing Series focuses on the implementation of statistical models and methods, statistical computation and graphics. These informal meetings allow experienced statisticians and developers to share their expertise on computing topics with practitioners across Vanderbilt. On Thursday, May 23, at 2:30 p.m., principal application developer Zhouwen Liu (MS, computer science, MTSU; MA, biology and biochemistry, Binghamton University), will present "Cloud, StatComp3, and ACCRE computation":


Cloud computing enables users to access computing resources such as servers, storage, databases, and software applications via the internet, offering scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. Users can easily adjust resources based on demand, avoiding upfront costs and infrastructure management.

The StatComp3 system caters to statistical analysis needs, handling large-scale tasks unsuitable for local workstations due to high memory or runtime requirements. In this way, our StatComp3 system functions as a CQS cloud.

Vanderbilt University's ACCRE provides computational resources and support, including high-performance clusters and storage systems, for research in bioinformatics, engineering, physics, and social sciences. These resources facilitate complex tasks and data analysis, accelerating research discovery.

This presentation introduces the ACCRE system and provides guidance on setting up and running parallel processing jobs.

For access to this Teams presentation, contact Ryan Moore