Emery N. Brown, MD, PhD Receives the 2011 Jerome Sacks Award for Cross-Disciplinary Research

The National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS) has presented the 2011 Jerome Sacks Award for Cross-Disciplinary Research to Dr. Emery N. Brown of MIT and Harvard. Susan Ellenberg, chair of the Board of Trustees, announced the award at the 2011 Joint Statistical Meetings in Miami, Florida. The annual award, named in honor of Jerome (Jerry) Sacks, the founding director of NISS, was established in 2000 to recognize “sustained, high-quality cross-disciplinary research involving the statistical sciences."

Brown is Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Professor of Computational Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Warren M. Zapol Professor of Anesthesia, Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital. He received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and a Ph.D. in statistics from Harvard University, and is now an anesthesiologist-statistician whose research focuses on the development of signal processing algorithms to characterize how the patterns of electrical discharges from neurons in the brain represent information from the outside world.

Dr. Brown is an elected member of the Association of University Anesthesiologists and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, and a fellow of  the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering,  the American Statistical Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and IEEE. Since receiving the NIH Director's Pioneer Award in 2007, he has been using a systems neuroscience approach to study how anesthetic drugs act in the brain to create the state of general anesthesia.

In response to receiving the award, Brown stated that "Cross-disciplinary work is a vital source for statistics. Cross-disciplinary questions pose new problems, with more challenging constraints than the ones we could ever imagine by our mathematical suppositions alone. These new problems and their solutions will dictate important parts of the theory and practices that will shape statistics into the future. We should make our contacts with other fields as broad as possible to insure that the sources of new ideas for statistics come from as many areas as possible."

As Sacks award recipient, Brown receives $1,000, and his name is added to a plaque housed at NISS that lists all recipients of the award, who also include:

Elizabeth Thompson of the University of Washington – 2001

Max Morris of Iowa State University – 2002

Raymond Carroll of Texas A & M University – 2003

Douglas Nychka of the National Center for Atmospheric Research  – 2004

Jeff Wu of the Georgia Institute of Technology – 2005

Adrian Raftery of the University of Washington – 2006

Cliff Spiegelman of Texas A&M University – 2007

John Rice of the University of California, Berkeley – 2008

Ramanathan Gnanadesikan, retired from Telcordia Technologies 2009

Sallie Keller of IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute 2010

About NISS
The National Institute of Statistical Sciences was established in 1990 by the national statistics societies and the Research Triangle universities and organizations, with the mission to identify, catalyze and foster high-impact, cross-disciplinary and cross-sector research involving the statistical sciences. NISS is dedicated to strengthening and serving the national statistics community, most notably by catalyzing community members’ participation in applied research driven by challenges facing government and industry. NISS also provides career development opportunities for statisticians and scientists, especially those in the formative stages of their careers. In particular, NISS has appointed more that 70 postdoctoral fellows with graduate training in statistics, computer science, mathematics, environmental sciences, psychometrics and transportation. NISS is located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

For more information about NISS, go to the website www.niss.org. You can also learn more about NISS by following our Twitter account, @NISSSAMSI, join the NISS group on LinkedIn and on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 by Jamie Nunnelly