NISS/Merck Meetup on Diversity and Inclusion Issues in Pharma

Thursday, November 4, 2021 - 11:00am - 12:30 pm ET

[Please Note: This session has already occurred.  Go to the News Story to read about what happened.] 

The National Institute of Statistical Science (NISS) and Merck are sponsoring a Virtual Meet-Up on Diversity and Inclusion issues in the Pharmaceutical Industry.


There is general agreement that diversity and inclusion in the workplace is highly desirable.  In addition to arguments around fairness, many would argue that diverse and inclusive workplaces are more innovative and have higher performance. However, building such a workplace can be challenging, especially for statistics departments in the pharmaceutical industry. Among the challenges are finding, hiring, and retaining candidates with diverse backgrounds.  In this meet-up we will examine how three Pharma are attempting to meet some of these challenges. 


Adrian Coles, (Bristol Myers Squibb)

"Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Talent Acquisition: An Overview of Key Considerations"

Brian Millen,  (Eli Lilly)

An Interim Analysis of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Our Profession

Paulette Ceesay, (Merck)

"Outreach challenges and opportunities to promote a diverse and inclusive workplace"

This session will be moderated by Junshui Ma (Merck)


Register for this Event Here!

After you register, NISS will email you a link to the meet-up. The Meet-Up will use Zoom software and is free to the public. 

Previous NISS-Merck Meet-Ups can accessed on the NISS website - Event Series page


About the Speakers

Adrian Coles, (Bristol Myers Squibb)

Dr. Adrian Coles is currently an Associate Director of Biostatistics at Bristol Myers Squibb.  In this role, he designs, implements and interprets data from clinical trials to help bring new pharmaceutical innovations to patients in need. Dr. Coles serves as the Chair of the ASA’s Committee on Minorities in Statistics, and he co-chairs the ASA’s Antiracism Taskforce. In these roles, he helps to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the mathematical sciences as well as provide support and mentorship to several younger professionals in the field. He recently authored a book chapter on diversity and inclusion in talent acquisition—included in the published work titled “Leadership in Statistics and Data Science: Planning for Inclusive Excellence” edited by Amanda Golbeck. 

Dr. Coles holds a BA in Math from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a PhD in Statistics from NC State University, where he was the first African American male to earn a PhD in Statistics from the time-honored department. Prior to attending graduate school, Dr. Coles served nearly nine years in the United States Marine Corps, where he received multiple awards for leadership and honorable service.

Brian Millen,  (Eli Lilly)

Brian A. Millen, Ph.D., is Senior Director of Real World and Access Analytics within Lilly’s Global Statistical Sciences (GSS) organization.  In this role, he provides strategic and administrative leadership to the teams of statistical scientists whose research contributions and analytic modeling enable patient access to treatments.  Dr. Millen’s career with Lilly spans over 20 years in various technical and leadership roles within GSS and Advanced Analytics, where he is known for establishing cultures of high performance, inclusion, and innovation within his teams.  

Dr. Millen is a passionate advocate for professional development and diversity and inclusion (D&I).  He brings these passions to Lilly and to his broader service to the profession.  Dr. Millen is a past Chair of the American Statistical Association’s (ASA) Committee on Minorities in Statistics and is the founder (2009) of the JSM Diversity Workshop and Mentoring Program.  His service to the profession spans more than 15 years and includes multiple leadership roles within ASA and the International Biometric Society (ENAR).  He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the ASA Biopharmaceutical Section and is the 2022 Chair-Elect of the Section.  

Dr. Millen holds a PhD in Statistics from The Ohio State University and a BA in Mathematics from the University of Georgia.  He is a fellow of the American Statistical Association.

Paulette Ceesay, (Merck)

Paulette Ceesay is a Principal Scientist in the neuroscience and ophthalmology therapeutic areas at Merck where she provides statistical support in the design, methodology and implementation of clinical trials.  She has also worked in the diabetes, cardiovascular, and anti-infective areas. Paulette co-leads the Biostatistics and Research Decision Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.  The goal of the Task Force is to attract more diverse candidates, as well as continue to develop and inspire current employees as part of Merck’s diverse and inclusive work force. She was also an adjunct in the statistics department at Temple University.

Paulette Ceesay holds a BA in mathematics from Franklin and Marshall College and is the first  African American to earn a PhD in statistics from Temple University.  Prior to her statistics career, she was a group health and pension actuary. 


Event Type


National Institute of Statistical Sciences


Merck & Co. Inc.


Registration is free.


Virtual Meet-up
Moderator: Junshui Ma (Merck),  Speakers: Adrian Coles (Bristol Myers Squibb), Brian Millen (Eli Lilly), Paulette Ceesay (Merck).