I am delighted to announce that effective September 1, 2019, Jeffrey S. Morris, PhD (pictured), will assume the role of Director of the Division of Biostatistics, succeeding J. Richard Landis, PhD. Dr. Morris served previously as the Del and Dennis McCarthy Distinguished Professor in Gastrointestinal Cancer and Deputy Chair, Department of Biostatistics, at The University of Texas’ renowned M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He also has been a faculty member in the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Science and an adjunct professor in the Departments of Statistics at Texas A&M University and at Rice University, where he served as co-director of the Rice-M.D. Anderson joint training program in Biostatistics. He obtained his PhD from the Department of Statistics at Texas A&M University.
Dr. Morris has led research in developing quantitative methods to extract knowledge from biomedical big data, including work to characterize molecular subtypes of colorectal cancer and devise novel precision therapeutic strategies; to construct novel prognostic indices for hepatocellular carcinoma; and to relate complex biomedical object data—including functions, images and manifolds—to patient outcomes and characteristics using flexible, automated regression methods. His statistical methods innovations have frequently been motivated by compelling scientific questions that emanate from biomedical collaborations, and he has played key leadership roles on these multidisciplinary teams. Dr. Morris’s research has been supported by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the American Cancer Society, the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse, and the National Science Foundation, among others.
Dr. Morris has been widely recognized within the academic statistics and biostatistics community. He is a Fellow of the Institute for Mathematical Statistics (IMS) and of the American Statistical Association (ASA), and has been recognized with various national honors, including the ASA’s Noether Young Scholar Award and Harvard University’s Myrto Leftkopoulou Distinguished Invited Lectureship. Dr. Morris was honored by M.D. Anderson with the 2018-19 Faculty Mentoring Award, given annually to one research faculty member in the institution. He has served the scientific community in many capacities, including as President of the East North American Region (ENAR) of the International Biometric Society and overall program chair for the Joint Statistical Meetings, the largest statistical meetings in the world. He also is currently the editor of Biology, Medicine and Genomics for the IMS journal The Annals of Applied Statistics and has served as an associate editor of several leading data science journals, including Biometrics and the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series B.
Dr. Morris assumes leadership of a highly successful Division that has had outstanding leadership from J. Richard (Dick) Landis, PhD, since 1997. I am deeply thankful to Dick Landis for guiding and inspiring our Biostatistics Division for more than two decades. During his tenure our program has grown to include 33 highly accomplished fulltime members and offers graduate programs that now rank among the top in the nation. Dick Landis will become our Senior Vice Chair, promoting the goals and strategies of the DBEI and serving as our liaison to other Penn schools, the Health System and CHOP.
Dr. Morris’s leadership will build on these successes, including ever-growing synergies between collaborative and methodological biostatistics research. These synergies will continue to stimulate methodological advances in biostatistical science and related, transformative applications that directly enhance health and healthcare across Penn Medicine and beyond.
Harold I. Feldman, MD, MSCE
Chair, Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics