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Expert named Biostatistics and Computational Biology chair at Dana-Farber and professor of biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health


Giovanni Parmigiani, PhD, a noted leader in applying bioinformatics tools to cancer studies and medical decision-making, has been appointed as the chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and professor of biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

Parmigiani comes from Johns Hopkins University, where he was director of the Cancer Center's Bioinformatics Shared Resource and a professor in the Departments of Oncology and Biostatistics.

He succeeds David Harrington, PhD, who served as departmental chair since 1998 and who will continue as a senior scientist at Dana-Farber. Parmigiani's Dana-Farber and HSPH appointments are effective Sept. 1.

"Dr. Parmigiani is an extraordinarily gifted scientist and a widely regarded leader in the use of bioinformatics to study genetic risk in cancer and to assess genomic data on the effectiveness of therapies studied in clinical trials," said Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD, president of Dana-Farber.

"Utilizing the latest biostatistical and computational methodologies to improve how we design cancer studies and collect and analyze the information they generate is a critical step in the development of more effective and more patient-tailored cancer treatments."

"We could not be more thrilled that Dr. Parmigiani will be joining our faculty," said James Ware, PhD, Dean for Academic Affairs and Frederick Mosteller Professor of Biostatistics at HSPH.

"Cancer claims the lives of millions of people around the world. We need every tool in our arsenal to fight this disease. Dr. Parmigiani's tremendous talents in bioinformatics will add to our growing ability to prevent cancer and to save lives."

Parmigiani's principal research interest is the development of statistical and computational methods to capture and assess biomedical data, including models and software for predicting a person's risk of cancer.

He has helped devise a number of bioinformatics software tools and programs, including BRCAPRO, which is used in genetic counseling of families at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and BayesMendel, a suite of tools that covers a broad range of familial risk prediction tasks in breast, ovarian, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers.

"The Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology at Dana-Farber has an outstanding tradition of contributions to cancer research," said Parmigiani.

"Their tools and ideas hold the key to translating the large and complex information generated by today's cancer research into prevention and treatment tools centered around individual patients. I am delighted and extremely honored to be entrusted with the leadership of this group at such a pivotal time for cancer research."

Parmigiani earned his doctoral degree in statistics from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He is the author of more than 150 books, book chapters, and scientific papers and is a member of several professional societies. He is a fellow of the American Statistical Association. Prior to Johns Hopkins, Parmigiani held faculty positions at Duke University.

Dana-Farber's Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology faculty conducts basic research in statistical and computational methods for clinical trials, population-based studies, and cancer biology.

The department participates extensively in interdisciplinary research in each of these areas with teams of investigators, providing expert consultation on the experimental design and analysis of clinical, laboratory, and population-based studies.

Faculty and staff statisticians in the department play central roles in the development of all clinical research protocols at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) and serve as members of the Scientific Review Committees and the Institutional Review Boards.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.dana-farber.org) is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.

Harvard School of Public Health (www.hsph.harvard.edu) is dedicated to advancing the public's health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 400 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 1,000-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children's health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights.

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