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Rafael A Irizarry, PhD



  • Professor of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Contact Information

  • Office Phone Number617-632-3012
  • Fax617-632-2444


Dr. Irizarry received his bachelor's in mathematics in 1993 from the University of Puerto Rico and went on to receive a Ph.D. in statistics in 1998 from the University of California, Berkeley. His thesis work was on Statistical Models for Music Sound Signals. He joined the faculty of the Department of Biostatistics in the Bloomberg School of Public Health in 1998 and was promoted to Professor in 2007. For the past ten years, Dr. Irizarry's work has focused on Genomics and Computational Biology problems. In particular, he has worked on the analysis and pre-processing of microarray, second-generation sequencing, and genomic data. He is currently interested in leveraging his knowledge in translational work, e.g. developing diagnostic tools and discovering biomarkers.

Dr. Irizarry also develops open source software implementing his statistical methodology. His software tools are widely used and he is one of the leaders and founders of the Bioconductor Project, an open source and open development software project for the analysis of genomic data. Bioconductor provides the most widely used software tool for the analysis of microarray data and garnered a 2003 Insightful Innovation Award.

In 2009, the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) named Dr. Irizarry the Presidents' Award winner. The Presidents' Award is arguably the profession's most prestigious award honoring early career contributions. Dr. Irizarry also received the 2009 Mortimer Spiegelman Award which honors an outstanding public health statistician under age 40. He also won the 2001 American Statistical Association Noether Young Scholar Award for researcher, younger than 35 years of age, who has significant research accomplishments in nonparametrics statistics. Dr Irizarry was also named a fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2009.

Three of Dr. Irizarry's numerous publications have been named Fast Breaking Paper, New Hot Paper, or Current Classic Paper in Mathematics by Thomson Essential Science Indicators (ESI). According to the ESI's Scientist Rankings, he is one of the most highly cited researchers in Mathematics and Computer Science. One of his publications won the 2004 American Statistical Association (ASA) Outstanding Statistical Application Award. He was awarded the ASA Youden Award in Interlaboratory Testing for another of his publications. Dr. Irizarry co-edited Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Solutions using R and Bioconductor (Springer 2005), which has been translated to Chinese and Japanese.

Recent Awards:

  • The Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Access in the Life Sciences
  • Myrto Lefkopoulou Distinguished Lecturer Award
  • Ranked second-most cited mathematical scientist in the world by Essential Science Indicators.
  • COPSS President’s Award presented to a young member of the statistical community in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the profession.
  • Mortimer Spiegelman Award which recognizes a statistician age 40 years or younger who has made outstanding contributions to public health statistics.
  • American Statistical Association Fellow
  • Distinguished Alumni. College of Natural Sciences, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.
  • Main author of Fast Breaking Paper in Mathematics awarded by Thomson Essential Science Indicators (ESI).
  • ASA Youden Award in Interlaboratory Testing
  • ASA Outstanding Statistical Application Award which recognizes a paper that is an outstanding application of statistics in any substantive field.
  • Dean’s Lecture: Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Main author of Fast Breaking Paper and New Hot Paper in Mathematics awarded by Thomson Essential Science Indicators (ESI).
  • American Statistical Association Noether Young Scholar Award for researcher, younger than 35 years of age, who has significant research accomplishments in nonparametrics statistics
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, University of California, Berkeley
  • Chancellor's Predoctoral Opportunity Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow
  • Facundo Bueso Medal, School of Natural Science, University of Puerto Rico
  • Mathematics Medal, University of Puerto Rico
  • First Prize Inter-collegiate Advanced Programming Competition, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras
  • First Prize University Mathematics Olympics, University of Puerto Rico, Cayey


The unprecedented advancements in digital technology during the second half of the 20th century has produced a measurement revolution that is transforming science. In biomedical research, the Genomics revolution is being driven by new technologies that permit us to observe molecular entities analogous to identifying microorganisms and other breakthroughs permitted by the invention of the microscope. Choice examples of these technologies are next generation sequencing (NGS) and microarrays.
Scientific fields that have traditionally relied upon simple data analysis techniques have been turned on their heads by these technologies. Interpreting information extracted from these massive and complex datasets requires sophisticated statistical methodology as one can easily be fooled by patterns arising by chance or systematic errors that are hard to detect.
Rafael Irizarry’s lab is interested in the development of statistical tools that help researchers better interpret their data. The lab disseminates these tools through open source that is available for free online. This software has tens of thousands of users and the scientific publications in which these methods are highly cited.


Research Departments:

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