Cape Town | The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) announced that the University of Pretoria’s Professor Ding Chen will take the helm as Research Chair in Biostatistics at the University of Pretoria (UP) on 8 August 2018.
Professor Chen is an Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria, a fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA) and currently the Wallace H. Kuralt Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
SARChI is an initiative by the Department of Science &Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation (NRF). It is aimed at attracting and retaining excellence in research and innovation through the establishment of Research Chairs at public universities in South Africa. The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) will play the role of a relevant medical research organisation that will provide assistance pertaining to statistical methodological research problems in the development of new interventions, diagnostics, drugs and health care.
“Although there have been some initiatives, South Africa still faces a severe shortage of high level skills, particularly in statistical sciences and more particularly in the sub-area of biostatistics,” says President & CEO of the SAMRC Professor Glenda Gray. “It is encouraging to witness more initiatives such as SARChI and we at the SAMRC are privileged to be a part of this initiative.”
The Research Chair in Biostatistics received in excess of R2 million to build statistical capacity for the South African community to design and analyse health-related studies of national importance.
“This SARChI Chair is crucial to support the SAMRC’s strategic goals – we view it as both a national and continental asset. It is a platform and research node to generate new knowledge, train the future cadre of Biostatisticians and strengthen capacity building across institutions in SA,” says VP for Research of the SAMRC Professor Jeffrey Mphahlele. “It will complement other initiatives aimed at promoting and supporting the development of the discipline of biostatistics.”
The Research Chair is co-funded by the National Research Foundation and the SAMRC and one of the key elements of the role will be to facilitate the training of biostatisticians thus developing more capacity for the science community and the country.
Professor Chen’s research interests include clinical trial biostatistical methodological development in Bayesian models, survival analysis, and statistics in biological assays. He has published more than 150 refereed papers and co-authored/co-edited 12 books in statistics.
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