News Release: School of Public Health, Woodruff Health Sciences

Jul. 8,  2009

Rollins School of Public Health Names New Chair of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics

Lance Waller, PhD, has been named Rollins Professor and Chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health. His appointment was effective July 1.

Waller will also serve as associate director of biostatistics and bioinformatics in the Emory Center for Comprehensive Informatics, a multi-disciplinary center that supports translational, clinical or deep integrative studies combining biostatistics and high-performance computing techniques.

Waller joined Emory in 1998 as an associate professor of biostatistics. He was promoted to a professor of biostatistics in 2003 and was elected the same year to the Fellowship in the American Statistical Association. Waller was recently tapped as chair of the department after an extensive national search.

"Dr. Waller is taking the helm of the biostatistics and bioinformatics department at a very exciting time," says James W. Curran, MD, MPH, dean of the Rollins School of Public Health. "Emory researchers in a range of disciplines, including predictive health, oncology and HIV/AIDS, are increasingly turning to biostatistics to aid their bioscience research efforts. Dr. Waller's expertise will be an asset to the department and his colleagues."

Waller's research involves the assessment of spatial clustering of disease, linking spatial statistics and geographic information systems, statistical assessments of environmental justice, and hierarchical methods for modeling small-area health statistics. His recent analyses have included spatial point process methods in alcohol epidemiology and conservation biology (sea turtle nesting patterns), and hierarchical models in disease ecology.

"I look forward to building on the department’s strong base in biostatistical research, training and collaboration," says Waller. "The most effective programs in biostatistics grow and adapt in concert with new methods of measurement and the new research possibilities enabled by them. I’m especially excited about new opportunities in the analysis of high-dimensional data, which link information from multiple sources in a variety of applications from across the health sciences. Making sense of these complex data in accurate, reliable, and interpretable ways is our primary goal."

Waller has authored or coauthored more than 100 articles and one book. His research is actively supported by seven federal grants, including four National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants on which he currently serves as principal investigator. In addition, Waller serves on numerous national advisory committees and has actively taught and mentored graduate and professional students during his tenure at Emory. Waller is also an alumnus of the Emory Woodruff Leadership Academy. 

Waller earned his master's of science and doctoral degree in operations research from Cornell University. Before coming to Emory, he was an associate professor of biostatistics at the University of Minnesota and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Emory's biostatistics and bioinformatics faculty collaborate with researchers in a variety of disciplines, developing and applying statistical methodology in search of solutions to medical and public health problems. Specific research projects include a five-year, NIH-funded grant to develop powerful computer modeling techniques to analyze and respond to infectious disease outbreaks; efforts to apply biostatistical methods to the analysis of genetic data to further understanding of complex disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia; and the development of statistical methods to analyze the distribution of the burdens of environmental hazards between different socioeconomic groups.

The Rollins School of Public Health enrolls over 900 graduate students in masters' and doctoral programs, has more than 5,000 alumni, and employs 180 full-time faculty who work throughout Georgia, the United States, and in more than 100 countries around the globe. The Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics consists of more than 30 full-time and 20 adjunct faculty members.

To learn more about the Rollins School of Public Health, visit, and to learn more about the Emory Center for Comprehensive Informatics, visit


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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