Dr. Nigel Paneth - Valedictory




Nigel Paneth



“The improbable history of our department - A personal perspective”

The Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics began as a Program in Epidemiology in 1989, administratively located in the Dean’s Office of the College of Human Medicine. Initially occupying half a bay in East Fee Hall, the program began with one faculty member, one secretary and a statistics graduate student supported by a grant. Key developments since then were the initiation of a Master of Science degree in Epidemiology in 1992, full departmental status in 1998, initiation of the PhD in Epidemiology in 2001 and the renaming of the Department to fully acknowledge its important biostatistical component in 2013 and the consequent development of Masters and Doctoral programs in Biostatistics. This initiative in two of the fundamental sciences of public health - epidemiology and biostatistics - has led to the awarding of hundreds of masters degrees and dozens of doctoral degrees, external research funding (largely from NIH) exceeding $100 million and support of at least four NIH research training programs in epidemiology.

This valedictory (farewell address) will concentrate on a personal perspective on the several serendipitous events that led to the formation and early development of the department in a medical school, and its relationship with the rest of the university in a setting in which epidemiology and public health were not always fully understood. Elements underlying its successful growth, including collaboration with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and recruitment of a superb faculty and staff, will also be emphasized.