Newswise — Elizabeth Stuart, PhD, AM, an accomplished biostatistician and academic administrator, has been named chair of the Department of Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She will assume the role on July 1.

Stuart, who joined the Bloomberg School faculty in 2006, currently serves as the School's executive vice dean for Academic Affairs. She is also a Bloomberg Professor of American Health in the School’s Department of Mental Health, with joint appointments in the departments of Biostatistics and Health Policy and Management. She previously served as the School’s vice dean for Education.

An author of more than 320 papers, Stuart conducts research focused on methods for estimating causal effects, including methods for assessing how results from randomized trials convey to other populations and methods for evaluating effects of state policies. She collaborates across areas that include mental health, substance use, gun violence prevention, and education.  

“I have always wanted to try to make the world a better place using math,” says Stuart. “I feel incredibly lucky to have found a way to do that through biostatistics and public health, especially in such a mission-driven environment as the Bloomberg School. I could not be more honored to be named chair of the Biostatistics Department.”

Biostatistics is one of public health’s foundational disciplines. As Biostatistics chair, Stuart plans to build on the Department’s legacy of impactful work across theory, methods, and application, and to continue to foster an appreciation of collaboration across the field of public health.

“I think of biostatisticians as scientific connectors,” says Stuart. “We bring a common language and approach to study designs and data analyses across fields, which in turn allows distinct fields to learn from each other and to harness information from data to generate generalizable knowledge.”   

At the Bloomberg School, Stuart has contributed to the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, guiding researchers in the Initiative’s five focus areas—addiction and overdose; adolescent health; environmental challenges; food systems for health; and violence—on the type of evidence needed to inform policy and practice. She has also helped develop guidance to assess the quality and relevance of studies to help researchers, journalists, and the public assess the state of the evidence. 

“Liz is both a highly accomplished biostatistician and a multifaceted leader. She excels at forming collaborations across disciplines and departments, is much-admired as a teacher and mentor, and has a gift for communicating the intricacies of statistics to both students and the public,” says Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD, ScM, dean of the Bloomberg School. “We know she will continue to use her voice in powerful ways as the chair of our Biostatistics Department.”

During the pandemic, Stuart and colleagues published surveys that tracked the mental health implications of closures, isolation, uncertainty, and loss, and called for policies and programs to address mental health. (Their surveys and related research are ongoing.) She wrote general-interest articles and participated in media interviews that touched on strategies for individuals to improve their mental health and for parents of school-age children trying to navigate an evolving situation. She also helped create the Novel Coronavirus Research Compendium, which aggregated and explicated emerging scientific research to inform other researchers and a general audience.

Her professional honors include the Gertrude M. Cox Award for applied statistics from RTI International and the Washington Statistical Society; Harvard University’s Myrto Lefkopoulou Award for excellence in biostatistics; and the Marshall Joffe Epidemiologic Methods Award from the Society for Epidemiologic Research. She was named an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow in 2020 and an American Statistical Association Fellow in 2014. Stuart has received grant funding for her methods and collaborative work from multiple federal funding agencies and foundations.

In her leadership roles with the Dean's Office, Stuart helped foster a culture of excellence and innovation for the School’s educational initiatives, and led the way during the shifts to virtual learning and hybrid teaching.In addition, she increased the use of data to inform decision-making and guide educational programs. She also helped to establish the Bloomberg School’s Teaching Council.

Stuart graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics from Smith College in 1997 and earned her master’s and doctorate in statistics in 2001 and 2004, respectively, from Harvard University. Before joining the Bloomberg School, she was a researcher at Mathematica Policy Research (now Mathematica).

Stuart succeeds Karen Bandeen-Roche, PhD, MS, who stepped down as chair after 14 years. Bandeen-Roche deploys statistical reasoning to help find ways to lengthen healthy life and increase independence for older adults. She will remain on the Bloomberg School faculty.

“Karen led the Department with vision, creativity, compassion, and a commitment to excellence and collaboration,” Dean MacKenzie says. “We look forward to her doubling down on advancing research and practice to lengthen healthy life in aging, using the unique biostatistical and gerontologic lens she has honed over the years.” 

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