Penn researchers elected American Statistical Association Fellows

PHILADELPHIA – Two biostatisticians from the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and professors of Biostatistics in Biostatistics and Epidemiology Mingyao Li, PhD, and Sharon Xie, PhD, have been elected fellows of the American Statistical Association, the largest professional organization for statisticians in the United States.

Li was selected for outstanding contributions to statistical genetics and genomics, as well as scientific discoveries in the genetics of cardiometabolic disease and age-related macular degeneration. Li was also cited for her editorial and other professional contributions to the field.

An expert in statistical genetics, bioinformatics and computational biology, much of Li's work includes developing methods and tools to find new ways to identify and characterize genetic changes that lead to complex diseases. Her research program has been continuously supported by NIH R01 grants since 2008. Her current work delves into genetics and genomics data from sequencing studies, with a particular focus on analysis of ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequencing data including single-cell RNA sequencing, and genetics of gene expression.

Li's collaborative research also reveals new insights into Alzheimer's disease, as well as gene therapy for rare diseases. She is an Associate Editor of Statistics in Biosciences, and was a regular member of the Genomics, Computational Biology and Technology (GCAT) study section (2011-2017), and was a member of the review committee of the Center for Inherited Disease Research (CIDR) (2013-2017) of the National Institutes of Health. She was a recipient of the 2005 Cotterman award from the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Li received a BS in mathematics from Nankai University in China, and MS and a PhD in biostatistics from the University of Michigan.

Xie was selected for excellent and sustained statistical collaborative and methodological research in the area of neurodegenerative diseases, exemplary mentoring of biostatistics graduate students and medical researchers, leadership and development of outstanding biostatistics core facilities with national impact in neurodegenerative disease research, and for service to the profession.

Xie currently serves as principal investigator of a NIH R01 grant-funded study that aims to find new statistical methods for measuring dementia risk in Parkinson's disease and related neurodegenerative diseases. She is also the principal investigator of the biostatistics and data management core for three NIH-funded neurodegenerative disease research centers/program project grants: the Alzheimer's Disease Center, the Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Center of Excellence, and the frontotemporal lobar degeneration program project grant.

Xie's current research tackles two main areas. One of them is to develop novel statistical methods for missing data, measurement error problems, and lifetime data analysis in response to problems arising in research of neurodegenerative diseases. Xie developed new ways to reduce the biases and improve the efficiencies in modeling disease risk as well as innovative methods to reduce bias in diagnostic test evaluation in the presence of missing data or measurement error. The other area is to advance better understanding of the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

Xie received the 1999 Young Investigator Award of Statistics in Epidemiology Section of the American Statistical Association, and was the 2005 and 2011 recipient of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate Program in Biostatistics Teaching Award.

She was an elected standing member of the National Institute on Aging Alzheimer's Disease Center Data Core Steering Committee from 2007 to 2010 (chair from July 2008 to July 2009). Xie is also an elected standing member of the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center (NACC) Scientific Review Committee for the National Institute on Aging (2015-2019) and an elected standing member of the Parkinson Study Group Scientific Review Committee (2016 – present). Xie is currently an associate editor of Alzheimer's & Dementia.

Xie received a MS in statistics from the University of Texas, and a MS and PhD in biostatistics from the University of Washington.

Fellowships of the ASA are highly selective. The maximum number of recipients each year is limited to one-third of one percent of the organization's membership. Li and Xie and other newly selected fellows will be recognized at an awards ceremony in July during the American Statistical Association's Joint Statistical Meetings in Vancouver.

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