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Stanford Report, February 11, 1998

Olshen to lead biostatistics division: 2/98

Olshen to lead biostatistics division

RICHARD OLSHEN, PROFESSOR OF biostatistics and, by courtesy, of electrical engineering and of statistics, has been appointed chief of the Division of Biostatistics in the Department of Health Research and Policy (HRP) effective February 1998. He succeeds Byron Brown, professor of health research and policy, who had served as division chief since the founding of the department in 1988.

"Richard Olshen has always been able to bridge the worlds of modern statistics and cutting-edge medical research," said Dr. Mark Hlatky, professor and chair of HRP. "He will build on the legacy of his predecessor, Bill [Byron] Brown, in fostering close collaboration between statisticians and other medical scientists. In addition to the invaluable help to researchers, these collaborations have sparked the development of novel statistical methods to better solve real-world problems."

Olshen's research includes the application of statistics and mathematics to a wide variety of problems in medicine and biology. He and his colleagues developed the well-known CART (Classification and Regression Trees) algorithms, which have proved valuable in establishing diagnoses and/or prognoses using multiple variables. The method has been applied to the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction and to the prognosis of several diseases, including a type of lymphoma.

Olshen works with the nephrology division in studies of patients with autoimmune diseases of the kidney, and with UCSF colleagues in studies of the relationship between bone mineral density and stroke in older women. He serves on the advisory committee of Stanford's General Clinical Research Center. Olshen also directs the data-coordinating center of the Stanford Asian Pacific Program for Hypertension and Insulin Resistance (SAPPHIRe) Genetic Study, which seeks to identify the genes that predispose to hypertension.

Olshen, who has a PhD in statistics from Yale University (1966), served in Stanford University's Department of Statistics from 1967 to 1972. He held faculty posts at the University of Michigan and the University of California, San Diego, before returning to Stanford in 1989 as professor of biostatistics.