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The intersection of mathematics and medical research will be discussed at two lectures by biostatistician and bioinformatician Loki Natarajan ‘85

Biostatistics and bioinformatics professor Loki Natarajan '85 will discuss the intersection of biomedical research and statistics in two lectures for the mathematics department's new Henry Seeley White series, on Thursday, November 7, and Friday, November 8. These events, which are supported by the department’s Rogol Fund, are free and open to the public.

Natarajan was trained in pure mathematics and has over 10 years of experience as a statistical co-investigator on multiple studies and clinical trials in cancer. She served as the Director of Statistics for the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study (1996-2009), a large multisite randomized dietary intervention trial of over 3000 breast cancer survivors assessing the effects of a predominantly plant-based diet on reducing breast cancer recurrences.  Natarajan is a professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California at San Diego.

Natarajan’s primary methodological interest is in exposure measurement error, in particular quantifying biases in self-report instruments of exposure, and correcting for these biases in exposure-disease risk estimates. She also has research interests in survival analysis and in mutation rate estimation in colorectal cancer. She holds degrees in mathematics from Vassar and the University of California at Berkeley.

Henry Seeley White (1861 – 1943), the namesake of this lecture series, was appointed Professor and Chair of the Mathematics Department in 1904.  Among his many accomplishments, White was involved in organizing the first International Congress of Mathematicians, which took place in conjunction with the famous World Exposition of 1893. White also served as president of the American Mathematical Society, 1906-08.

Lecture
November 7, 2013

Biomedical Research from Cell to Community: a Statistician’s Perspective
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Reception at 4:30 pm with lecture to follow at 5 pm.
Rockefeller Hall (room 300).

Advances in medicine span a continuum of research, from the laboratory at the cellular level to large-scale epidemiological studies in humans.  Statisticians play a key role by supporting rigorous study designs, providing a quantitative framework for testing hypotheses, and developing clinically useful prognostic models.  In this talk, Natarajan will provide recent examples of statistical work in biomedicine at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD).  As an application from the laboratory, she will discuss replication studies for high-dimensional genomic data. She will discuss her work in the design of weight-loss intervention studies for breast cancer survivors and will present a novel “biomarker bridge” design for a weight-loss intervention being conducted at UCSD.

Lecture
November 8, 2013

Assessing Reproducibility of Results Across Genomic Studies: Inference and Design
Friday, November 8, 2013
3:00 pm
Rockefeller Hall (room 300)

Curated public repositories of genomic data enable researchers to compare results across multiple studies. A common approach is to rank genes for a hypothesis of interest within each study. Then, lists of top-ranked genes within a study are compared across studies. In this talk, Natarajan will discuss the development of a formal inferential strategy for this kind of list-intersection discovery test. 


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Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Wednesday, October 23, 2013