Rebecca Betensky has been promoted to professor of biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). She is also an associate biostatistician at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Betensky’s work spans several major areas of biostatistics and is driven by an interest in developing statistically sound solutions to real-world problems. To that end, she has developed new methods for the analysis of sequential clinical trials, multidimensional clustered binary data, interval-censored and truncated survival data, and cancer genetics data, including loss of heterozygosity and array comparative genomic hybridization data. These methods have been applied to myriad problems, including AIDS clinical trials, family studies of disease, and brain tumor studies.
Betensky is now focusing her efforts on neurology, a field that is growing in importance as the population ages. She aims to develop methods that are tailored to the unique features of neurologic diseases. As her impressive track record suggests, Betensky’s focus is translation of basic science into improved patient care. In addition to serving as leader of the Biostatistics Program at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, she directs the Training Program in Neurostatistics and Neuroepidemiology at HSPH, and serves as director of statistics at the Center for Translational Neurology Research at the Harvard Center for Neurodegeneration and Repair.
Betensky is also committed to mentoring and to recruiting students from underrepresented groups into the field of biostatistics. Since 2003, she has co-directed the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity training program at HSPH with Professor Louise Ryan.
In 2005, Betensky was the recipient of the Mortimer Spiegelman Award of the American Public Health Association. This award has been presented annually since 1970 to an outstanding public health statistician under the age of 40. In 2003, she was named a fellow of the American Statistical Association. She has received a FIRST (First Independent Research Support and Transition) Award from the National Institutes of Health, and Schering-Plough Junior Faculty Award.
She received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Harvard in 1987 and a Ph.D. in statistics from Stanford University in 1992. She was first appointed to HSPH as an assistant professor in 1994.