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Message from the Chair

Karen Bandeen-Roche

Welcome! We are grateful for your interest in Johns Hopkins Biostatistics. You can learn a great deal about us by browsing our webpages here. We hope you enjoy this! 

One thing you’ll see is a rich landscape of ideas being created by our faculty, students, and postdoctoral fellows. A hallmark for us is that our quantitative discoveries are driven by the determination to advance health science. Our targets of study span cells-to-whole-person functioning and individuals-to-society; environmental implications for health; neonatal health through older adult well-being; the Baltimore community to the globe; technologies to assess the genome, image the brain, and track health behaviors on a second-to-second basis; and a wide variety of diseases and targets of health promotion. Quantitative interests in our community span foundations of statistics through data science in action; in between, they include statistical modeling driven by hypotheses, description and prediction; population and causal inference; signal detection and dimension reduction; Bayesian analysis and forecasting; study design; statistical learning; and robust data analyses. In recent times, as for others, many of us have been caught up in work to address COVID-19. We have helped learn how our clinicians can improve care for ongoing waves of patients, developed a national web repository for sharing COVID-19 trial protocols so as to support analyses that more powerfully leverage the resulting combined data than the myriad individual trials can, improved population forecasting and risk prediction, helped discern genomics underpinnings of the virus, develop improved trial designs, and addressed disease etiology in older adults. Students and fellows have been central in these efforts! The passion with which our community strives to increase biomedical knowledge—and ultimately the public’s health—through our statistical and data science expertise is one of two qualities that makes our department so special in the constellation of outstanding statistics, biostatistics and data science departments around the country. It’s made possible because our University’s scientific ethos and pursuits couldn’t be more exciting.

Our past year of 2020 spurred us to changes just as it did the world at large. In the wake of coronavirus restrictions, we’ve learned how to talk, work and study online. While we’ll be thrilled to be back onsite when the time is right, we can now work more flexibly than ever—sometimes hosting events, working meetings or classroom sessions that include people literally from around the globe all at once. Racial inequality long embedded in US structures and institutions was spotlighted both by the pandemic and by the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others. Together with the School, University and so many across America, we are rededicating ourselves to achieving a truly just, equitable society. Our social justice page summarizes our values and commitments—the parts we’re playing and will play to enact inclusion, diversity, anti-racism and equity. Then, too—whether for health, equity, or the central role of valid, openly available data in advancing a free and beneficent society, we increasingly are advocating alongside educating and publishing. Check out the “Outreach” tab in our Johns Hopkins Data Science Lab site for a taste of these exciting.

A paragraph ago I highlighted health science as a driving force as one of two qualities making us unique. The second quality that highly distinguishes our department is our supportive, close-knit community. Amid the many changes of recent times, this is an anchor remaining in place. We value this not only because it makes our department a wonderful setting in which to study… to launch a career… to spend a career. We believe this also supercharges the contributions we are able to make. It’s the sort of environment where office dropping-by, spontaneous jaunts to get coffee together, daily lunch in the library, or hanging out in our Genome café spark wild creativity. It’s the sort of environment where we can take risks, because our friends will have our backs if success does not always follow. And, it is the sort of environment where we love living and working together. Our Slack channel may have taken over a bit of this during this lockdown year—but the time when we can renew ping pong, tea time, dinners, parties and retreats together is coming, and we can’t wait. Meanwhile, the joy of bettering the human condition together continues.

Thank you once again for your visit to our website. Special, heartfelt thanks to our many friends who have generously given for our support! This has been so especially valuable in trying times: Without it, we could not recruit outstanding faculty, students or staff. An outgrowth our special environment, it amplifies and accelerates our innovations in discovery and education.

Please be well! I hope I’ll have the pleasure of welcoming many of you in Baltimore soon--

Karen Bandeen-Roche
Frank Hurley and Catharine Dorrier Professor and Chair