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Distinguished alumni Kung-Yee Liang visits UW

Kung-Yee Liang, UW Biostatistics alumni speaking at Norman Breslow Lecture in 2024
Kung-Yee Liang (PhD '82) reflects on his career in research, academia, and government in Taiwan at the University of Washington April 11, 2024.

University of Washington Biostatistics graduate Kung-Yee Liang, Distinguished Chair Professor and Senior Advisor for Office of the President at Feng Chia University and former president of the National Health Research Institutes of Taiwan, was the featured speaker at this year’s Norman E. Breslow Distinguished Lecture.

Liang was one of Breslow’s PhD students and the two embody core scientific values according to UW Professor of Biostatistics and former department chair Patrick Heagerty who was a colleague of Breslow’s for 20 years and has known Liang for 30 years, ever since Heagerty was a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University.

Kung-Yee Liang and Patrick Heagerty at the 2024 Norman E. Breslow Endowed Lecture, Seattle Washington
Kung-Yee Liang with Patrick Heagerty at the 2024 Norman E. Breslow Endowed Lecture. Liang was a professor of biostatistics at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health when he first met Heagerty as a graduate student.

“They’re both innovators whose scholarship has been practice-changing; changing the way we do statistics and how statistics is applied to advance health." said Heagerty.  They both have incredible integrity, which leads to rigor in the methodology that they’ve developed and the methodology that they’ve applied. As scientists, both produce relevant work that had massive impacts in biostatistics and health sciences. And both have an incredible core commitment to their role as an educator and a mentor.”

Liang’s lecture focused on his journey from biostatistician to leading a university and a national health research institute in Taiwan during the COVID-19 pandemic. He believes biostatisticians are an excellent fit for administrative roles.

Kung-Yee Liang and Gayle Breslow and Lauren Basson
Norman Breslow's wife, Gayle Breslow (left) and daughter, Lauren Basson (right) with Kung-Yee Liang

"We are trained to think horizontally and broadly. For example, we assist with general methodology where methods can be applied to different kinds of cancer not just a specific one. We are good at communication because that’s what’s required to be a collaborator working with other scientists. We have this notion and attitude of consensus building. Through the math training and core courses we learn to be analytical and logical and that gives us a better chance of making a sound decision,” said Liang.

During his visit, Liang met with a number of campus leaders, including UW President Ana Mari Cauce and School of Public Health Dean Hilary Godwin. He also shared early career insights with UW Biostat students during their weekly seminar.

"Dr. Liang joined us for a discussion about his graduate student and early career experiences, as well as his advice to current students on making the most out of this phase of our careers. We greatly appreciate the time he spent with us, his thoughtful answers to our questions, and his insightful words of wisdom," said PhD student Ameer Dharamshi.

Watch Liang's Presentation

From Biostatistician to Administrator: A Personal Journey was presented April 11, 2024 by Norman E. Breslow Distinguished Lecturer Kung-Yee Liang (PhD 1982 Biostatistics), Distinguished Chair Professor and Senior Advisor for Office of the President, Feng Chia University; former president, National Health Research Institutes of Taiwan.


The Breslow Endowed Lectureship in Biostatistics was established in 2006 in honor and recognition of Breslow’s contributions to the field of biostatistics. It is awarded to a biostatistical scholar who has made significant contributions to methodology and applications in the health sciences.