About

History

The UW Department of Biostatistics was founded in 1970 and is a recognized leader in the statistical sciences. 

Origins

The University of Washington (UW) first offered degrees in biostatistics in 1965 through an interdisciplinary program called the Biomathematics Group. At the time, there was a biostatistics unit within the medical school. For many years, the Biomathematics Group enjoyed wide and active participation from faculty in departments of Mathematics, Biostatistics, Zoology, Fisheries, Forestry, Genetics and other campus units. In 1970 the School of Public Health formed a Department of Biostatistics.

The UW Department of Statistics was established in 1979 with the enthusiasm and support of the Department of Biostatistics. While Statistics was formed separately from Biostatistics, the departments have a long history of collaboration and collegiality. For example, in 2000, the two departments jointly added Statistical Genetics pathways to their doctoral programs, as well as a master’s-level statistical genetics certificate program.

A Legacy of Leadership

Over its 45-year history, the Department of Biostatistics has benefited from the leadership and vision of six outstanding chairs:

2019-present Lurdes Inoue
2014-2019 Patrick Heagerty
2006-2014 Bruce Weir
1993-2005 Thomas R. Fleming
1983-1993 Norman Breslow
1973-1983 Donovan Thompson
1973-1983

Edward Perrin

Training the Next Generation

Faculty paragraph member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, two members of the Institute of Medicine and 20 fellows of the American Statistical Association.

Our postdoctoral and graduate students are among the most talented in the country, and more than 560 alumni hold leadership roles in academia, government and industry worldwide. The department is a center of excellence for development and application of statistical methodology across the health sciences, and has collaborative partnerships with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Kaisier Permanente Health Research Institute, and the Veterans Administration. To complement our research, our Center for Biomedical Statistics provides consulting and collaborative services.

We offer two Master of Science degree programs and a Doctor of Philosophy in quantitative methods applied to the medical and biological sciences. The health sciences, including biology, medicine, and genomics, continue to experience major changes in their development of the quantitative sciences, and technological advances generate huge quantities of information, biostatistical tools and concepts critical for data analysis. The techniques and viewpoints of mathematics and statistics, traditionally peripheral, are now woven into the fabric of the health sciences, thereby providing exciting new opportunities in research and teaching.

Many universities have instituted programs relating mathematics or statistics to one particular biological field. The goal of our biostatistics graduate program is to equip students to develop and apply quantitative techniques of mathematics, statistics, and computing appropriate to medicine, biology, and other health science disciplines.

Because of the excellence of our faculty members and their involvement in diverse statistical applications, as well as the high caliber of our students, our department produces outstanding graduates at all levels. Our students are recruited from programs in mathematics, statistics, and biology and are selected on the basis of their outstanding quantitative ability.