News & Events

Thornton and Shojaie named associate department chairs

As the 2020-21 academic year gets underway, we welcome the appointment of two new associate chairs: Professor of Biostatistics and Graduate Program Director Timothy Thornton will serve as Associate Chair for Education, and Professor of Biostatistics Ali Shojaie as the Associate Chair for Strategic Research Affairs.

Timothy Thornton and Ali Shojaie
Associate Chair of Education Timothy Thornton (left) and Associate Chair for Strategic Research Affairs, Ali Shojaie

The Department of Biostatistics is recognized as a leading center of research in biostatistical methods and applications, and for its excellence in the training of students. Faculty are leaders in diverse areas of biostatistical research, including clinical trials, epidemiological methods and causal inference, statistical genetics, biomarker discovery, environmental and spatial statistics and statistical machine learning, to name a few. They are also involved in cutting edge collaborative research through the Department's renowned research centers and through local, national and international collaborations. The appointment of the two associate chairs highlights our commitment to these core missions of training  biostatisticians and developing rigorous biostatistical research.

“Tim and Ali are emerging leaders in the Department of Biostatistics and are well trusted and respected by their colleagues. I am extremely pleased and excited to work with them,” says Lurdes Inoue, chair of the department. 

Working closely with Inoue, the associate chairs will provide executive leadership to the Department.  Thornton will build on his role as graduate program director to provide strategic vision, management and oversight for academic programs and other educational enterprises.

“I am very excited to be the first associate chair for education in the Department of Biostatistics,” says Thornton. “This new leadership role is synergistic with my position as graduate program director. I am honored and humbled to help lead and facilitate the departmental core mission of the teaching and training of our graduate students.”

In his role, Shojaie will develop strategic plans to enhance the Department's research infrastructure, from computing to communications, and to streamline and optimize administrative and research support.

“It is an honor and privilege to be named the new associate chair for strategic research affairs. As associate chair, I hope to expand opportunities for methodological and collaborative research, both within the Department and also with external partners, from colleagues in the UW Health Sciences to others across UW and in the Seattle area. I also plan to partner with the associate chair for education to provide research opportunities for our graduate students, who are an integral part of the research activities at UW Biostatistics,” says Shojaie.

In case you missed it…

We’d like to take this opportunity recognize the many members of our UW Biostatistics community who have been on the front line of COVID-19 research. Helping the Washington State Department of Health develop COVID-19 models, working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to establish a core protocol for COVID-19 vaccine trials, and leading the statistical center for the federal government’s COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network are just a few of the contributions UW Biostatistics researchers have made and continue to make.

Other recent UW Biostatistics highlights include:

  • Research Professor Elizabeth Brown is principal investigator for the Microbial trials Network (MTN), which has conducted numerous studies on a new HIV prevention method for cisgender women in sub-Saharan Africa, a method that is one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to MTN research.
  • The UW Departments of Biostatistics and Statistics have partnered with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to establish ID-PRISM, a program that involves UW students in efforts to prevent and treat HIV and other infectious diseases such as malaria, influenza, and tuberculosis.
  • Daniela Witten, professor of statistics and biostatistics at the University of Washington, and Dorothy Gilford Endowed Chair of Mathematical Statistics, has been selected to receive the American Statistical Association’s 2021 Leo Breiman Junior Award.
  • Lianne Sheppard, professor of biostatistics and environmental health, was lead author on a recent study that discovered data omissions in key EPA insecticide study and revealed the need for review of industry analysis. For this and other outstanding work, the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology awarded Sheppard its Research Integrity Award.
  • Four UW biostatistics doctoral students and one recent graduate were among the 2020 American Statistical Association (ASA) Student Paper Competition best paper award winners.
  • See News & Events for more updates

-Deb Nelson, UW Biostatistics Communications