First-authored paper in Biometrics by Chiara Di Gravio

Congratulations to recent PhD graduate Chiara Di Gravio and her dissertation advisers, professor Jonathan Schildcrout and associate professor Ran Tao, on the publication of Efficient designs and analysis of two-phase studies with longitudinal binary data in the March 2024 issue of Biometrics. The paper presents a flexible full-cohort analysis method known as an efficient sieve maximum likelihood estimator (SMLE). The work was made possible in part by ACCRE, Vanderbilt's high-performance computing cluster, with data from the Lung Health Study.  

Dr. Di Gravio graduated from Vanderbilt in August 2023 and is now a postdoc at Imperial College London. In December 2023, she delivered a talk titled "The relationship between self-reported persistent symptoms post-COVID-19 and employment among adults in England, UK" at the Demystifying Long COVID International Conference in Madrid. The presentation was live-tweeted in English by Jon-Ruben van Rhijn and in French by ApresJ20 (Association Covid Long France).

VN-BioStat report in International Journal of Statistics and Probability

The final 2023 issue of International Journal of Statistics and Probability included "The Vanderbilt Nigeria Biostatistics Training Program (VN-BioStat): Results from a Skills Workshop." Professor and principal investigator Bryan Shepherd is first author of this paper, written in collaboration with Vanderbilt colleagues in the Institute for Global Health, the Division of Infectious Diseases, the Department of Health Policy, and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Innovation, as well as collaborators at Bayero University and the University of Southern California.

Welcome - Mackenzie Stuenkel

We are excited to welcome Mackenzie Stuenkel to the department and the Vanderbilt Biostatistics Data Coordinating Center Data Management Unit. Dr. Stuenkel earned her PhD in applied health research and evaluation from Clemson University, and then worked as lead research specialist at the Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Health & Advocacy, a division of Prisma Health Children's Hospital. She brings to Vanderbilt experience in COVID-19 vaccination and testing tracking and manuscript preparation, grant writing, tech support, and data optimization and analytics, as well as expertise in implementation science, program and process evaluation, mental health research, and more. She is first author of "School-based mental health service utilization through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond" (Journal of School Health, 2023) and has co-authored peer-reviewed papers on emergency departments (Journal of Safety Research, 2023), pediatric referrals (Journal of Community Health, 2023), healthcare worker experiences (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2023), and diagnosing COVID-19 in young adults (Journal of American College Health, 2023).

Simon Vandekar promoted to associate professor

We are pleased to announce the promotion of Dr. Simon Vandekar (left, with VN-Biostat fellows Rukayya Alkassim and Safiya Sada Sani and perhaps a future biostatistician) to associate professor of biostatistics (investigator track, with tenure), effective as of February 1. A graduate of Penn State (BS, psychology) and the University of Pennsylvania (PhD, biostatistics), Dr. Vandekar joined our department in 2018. He is best known for his methodological research in the analysis of neuroimaging data. He has developed robust intermodal and group-level inference procedures for neuroimaging and more recently has focused on the development and inference of a robust effect size index (RESI). Upon joining VUMC, he also began developing statistical methods for analyzing multiplexed immunofluorescence (mIF) imaging. His methodological research is supported by a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) R01 grant and an internal Gastrointestinal Specialized Program of Research Excellence (GI SPORE) career enhancement award.

As of this writing, Dr. Vandekar has published nearly 70 papers in top-tier journals (with at least 12 as first or senior author), including Journal of the American Statistical Association, Biostatistics, Biometrics, Journal of Neuroscience, NeuroImage, Bioinformatics, Cell, and Science. He has given more than 20 invited talks nationally and at international biostatistics conferences. His primary area of collaboration is in psychiatry, with a particular emphasis on neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Vandekar serves as director of graduate recruitment and was named Outstanding Faculty Mentor in 2021. His extramural activities include program chair responsibilities for the Section on Statistics in Imaging of the American Statistical Association (ASA; 2020–2022), organizing the Statistical Methods in Imaging Conference (2022), and leading the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the ASA as its president (2021–2023).

Simon and VN-Biostat Fellows at Adele's lunch celebration 1.26.2024


Welcome - Lauren E. King

We are delighted to welcome Lauren E. King to the department as our new research program manager. King earned her bachelor's degree in nutrition and wellness, with a minor in public health, from Auburn University, followed by her master's of public health with a concentration in epidemiology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She joined Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2021 as a clinical/translational research coordinator on Dr. Debra L. Friedman's team, where she worked extensively with oncologic study personnel, procedures, and data. Her extracurricular activities have included volunteering as a research assistant for an Alabama arm of the COVID COMET strategy and competing in ultimate frisbee.