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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Seminar Series
Start Date: 10/26/2022Start Time: 2:30 PM
End Date: 10/26/2022End Time: 3:30 PM

Event Description

Speaker: Jeffrey S. Morris, PhD, Professor and Director, Division of Biostatistics Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics Perelman School of Medicine Professor, Department of Statistics Wharton School of Business University of Pennsylvania

Talk title: "A Seat at the Table: The Key Role of Biostatistics and Data Science in the COVID-19 Pandemic"

The challenges of sorting through accruing data and studies in real time to provide real time learning and decision making have highlighted the critical role statistical data scientists and epidemiologists play in the broader society. Besides engaging on scientific studies, they also play a crucial role in accurately assessing and communicating what is known from accruing information in the data, stripping away political biases and communicating emerging knowledge while accurately conveying uncertainties and potential biases. This is especially critical when evaluating observational data, for which erroneous conclusions and confusion can arise when analyzed and interpreted by those without understanding of the inherent biases and quantitative nuances with these data. In this talk, I discuss my efforts through my https://covid-datascience.com blog and associated work on social media and with the media to help with this process. I focus specifically on the context of uncovering what the data say about vaccine effectiveness as the pandemic has evolved under different conditions and with different viral variants, while highlighting some of the erroneous narratives based on logical and epidemiological fallacies that have been prominent on social media and the media, many narratives being anti-vaccine but others being pro-vaccine, and contributed to confusion and division in the broader society. I will argue that our increased visibility and contributions in scientific communications could help get accurate information to the public and policymakers.

Bio: Jeffrey Morris got his PhD in Statistics at Texas A&M University in 2000, and after 19 years in the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, he moved to University of Pennsylvania in 2019 where he is Director of the Division of Biostatistics in the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics and Professor of Biostatistics at the Perelman School of Medicine. He is currently the editor of Biology, Medicine and Genomics for the Annals of Applied Statistics, and previously served as ENAR president and overall program chair for the Joint Statistical Meetings. His research interests focus on developing quantitative methods to extract knowledge from complex high dimensional biomedical data including multi-platform genomics, imaging, and wearable device platforms, with particular focuses on Bayesian modeling and functional data analysis. During the pandemic, he has authored a blog https://covid-datascience.com and been active on social media and with the media in using his expertise and perspective as statistical data scientist to evaluate and synthesize accruing information in the pandemic, debunking misinformation and filtering out political and other sources of bias, to clearly communicate objective, empirically-based knowledge about various aspects of the pandemic to the general audience.

Contact Information:
Name: Nancy Colon-Anderson
Email: nanderson@drexel.edu
Headshot of speaker
Nesbitt Hall, Room 132
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