Rui Feng, PhD



Rui Feng, PhD

Rui Feng, PhD

Associate Professor of Biostatistics

Ongoing Methodological Research

Dr. Feng’s current research focuses on exploring and improving the potential of deep learning methodologies, for structured input variables in biomedical research. Her recent development of the peel learning model, structure-guided transformer models, and redefined interpretability, contribute to ongoing efforts to address pragmatic challenges such as limited sample sizes and the underutilization of correlations among predictors.

Past Contributions in Genetics and Genomics

In the past, Dr. Feng has been devoted to statistical modeling for complex and high-dimensional genetic and genomic studies. Her early contributions include innovative models for testing familial segregation, gene mapping, and adjustment for sampling bias in ordinal traits. Later, she developed multiple haplotype-based methods for joint SNP-CNV calling, analysis of parent-of-origin effects in SNP and sequence data, instrumental variable selection, and high-dimensional causal inference.

Leadership in Multi-Center Clinical Studies

Dr. Feng has directed the design and data management of several high-impact multi-center clinical studies, including a pediatric study of the respiratory outcomes of extremely preterm infants (PROP, 2010-2016), a trial of novel Peg-IFN-a2b treatment in HIV patients (BEAT-HIV, 2013-2018), a multicenter pragmatic trial to evaluate the surgery outcomes of hip-fracture patients receiving spinal vs. general anesthesia (REGAIN, 2015-2021), a phase-II Lenabasum treatment trial in dermatomyositis (Lenabasum, 2015-2018), a phase-II trial to determine the effectiveness of anastrozole on pulmonary arterial hypertension (PHANTOM, 2016-2022), and a stepped-wedge clustered randomized trial of nudges to reduce benzodiazepine use in senior surgical patients (DROP-BENZO, 2022-24). These projects have set high standards in data quality and have been instrumental in producing high-impact publications in top-tier medical journals.

Mentorship and Academic Leadership

Dr. Feng has mentored over 20 medical fellows, numerous Master’s and Ph.D. students, and 4 postdoctoral fellows, guiding them through successful research careers. Since joining Penn Biostatistics in August 2009—following her faculty appointment at the University of Alabama at Birmingham—she has continued to foster a rich environment for academic growth and innovation.

Dr. Feng currently serves as the Treasurer of the International Chinese Statistical Association (ICSA).


Content Area Specialties

Genetics and Genomics, Pulmonary, Pediatrics, Dermatology, Geriatrics and Anesthesiology

Methodology Specialties

Deep Learning, Mendelian Randomization, Genetics and Genomics, Big Data

About Us

To understand health and disease today, we need new thinking and novel science —the kind  we create when multiple disciplines work together from the ground up. That is why this department has put forward a bold vision in population-health science: a single academic home for biostatistics, epidemiology and informatics. 

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