Biostatistics Professor Recognized for Contributions

Hongyu Zhao, Ph.D. and professor of public health and genetics at the Yale School of Public Health, is the 2008 recipient of the Mortimer Spiegelman Award honoring researchers who make outstanding contributions in the field of health statistics.

Zhao’s primary research area is statistical methodology developments that address scientific problems in genetics and molecular biology. His research is currently focused on statistical issues that arise from identifying genetic variants underlying complex traits, biological network analysis and disease biomarker discoveries.

“I feel very honored to be named the Mortimer Spiegelman Award recipient this year. I sincerely thank the award selection committee for recognizing the importance of the field I have been working in and its relevance to public health. As statisticians, we have much to contribute to improve public health through methodology developments and collaborative work in genetics, genomics and proteomics,” Zhao said.

The award will be formally presented by the Washington, D.C.-based American Public Health Association (APHA) at its meeting in October.

The annual award is designed to serve three purposes: to honor achievements in the field of health statistics by the recipient and Spiegelman, to encourage further involvement in public health by young statisticians, and to increase the awareness within the academic community of the APHA and its statistics section. The selection committee said that they were impressed with Zhao’s academic record and his contributions to statistical methodology, public health and the profession as a whole. Zhao earned his Ph.D. in statistics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1995. He is a fellow of the American Statistical Association and a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. He is also an elected member of the International Statistical Institute.

The award is named after demographer, actuary, and biostatistician Mortimer Spiegelman (1901-1969) who made a number of contributions to public health statistics. His contributions include the creation of a series of monographs sponsored by the APHA and published by Harvard University Press. Each of the monographs pertained to a specific set of diseases and used the 1960 U.S. Census as the denominator for rates of disease.

The award has been presented since 1970 to an outstanding public health statistician who is younger than 40 years of age. Nominations for this year’s award were due in April and had to be supported by a brief outline of the nominee’s research. Each nomination could be accompanied by up to three supporting letters.

As this year’s recipient, Zhao’s responsibilities will include becoming a member of the award selection committee for the next three years (from 2009 to 2011) and also to organize a session for the statistical section of the APHA at its 2009 meeting.

This article was submitted by Denise Meyer on August 13, 2012.

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Hongyu Zhao

Department Chair and Ira V. Hiscock Professor of Biostatistics, Professor of Genetics and Professor of Statistics and Data Science