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Barry Graubard, Senior Investigator in Biostatistics, Retires from DCEG

, by Jennifer K. Loukissas, M.P.P.

Barry Graubard

Barry Ira Graubard, Ph.D., senior investigator in the Biostatistics Branch (BB), retired from DCEG at the beginning of 2024.  

Throughout his career, Dr. Graubard focused on developing new statistical methodologies at the interface between biostatistics and survey sampling with a particular emphasis on cancer epidemiology, making fundamental contributions to the use of national population-based surveys to improve the representativeness of cohort, case-control, nested case-control, and cross-sectional studies. These achievements have been internationally recognized through publication in the leading statistics journals and numerous awards. In 1999, together with Dr. Edward Korn, a statistician in the NCI Division of Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment, he published “Analysis of Health Surveys,” which remains the definitive textbook in this field. 

Dr. Graubard has had a major impact on the use of population-based survey analyses within DCEG to improve study inferences. In this regard, he collaborated with dozens of investigators across almost all branches. There are numerous examples of these successful partnerships including the development of an absolute risk model for oropharyngeal cancer that is calibrated and validated to be representative of the U.S. population, the use of the accelerometer and mortality data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to show that increasing steps up to 8,000 per day substantially reduced mortality risk, and an assessment of the effect of community immunity from the prophylactic human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine on rates of oral HPV infections among the unvaccinated U.S. population.  

Later in his career, Dr. Graubard made important contributions to assessing health disparities in a population-based setting, developing novel techniques to evaluate the fraction of observed differences between advantaged and disadvantaged groups that can be explained by known factors. These methods are providing the basis for future health disparities analyses in the Division and across the epidemiology research community more generally. 

Dr. Graubard has been an outstanding mentor to many current and former DCEG fellows. His former fellows hold prestigious appointments at major universities and at the NIH, several in the position of senior investigators. His dedication and excellence in mentoring has been recognized numerous times with the NCI Mentoring Award, the American Statistical Association (ASA) Mentoring Award, and the ASA Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award, which recognizes and encourages the mentoring of junior staff in the statistical community in federal, state, or local government.     

Before joining DCEG, Dr. Graubard had a long history of government service. He began his career as a mathematical statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics in 1977 where he worked on network sampling methods to estimate prevalences of rare diseases and to estimate undercount in the 1980 census. In a research position at the Alcohol Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration, now known as the Substance Abuse, Mental Health Services Administration, he evaluated serum-based diagnostic testing methods to identify patterns of abusive alcohol drinking. In the Biometry Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, he worked on epidemiological studies of perinatal risk factors and adverse birth and early childhood outcomes.  

In 1990, Dr. Graubard was recruited to the Biometry Branch in the NCI Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, where he led the development of statistical methods research to monitor tobacco consumption and smoking prevalence through time serial state-level sales data and the Current Population Survey for the evaluation of the NCI American Stop Smoking Intervention Study. In 1997, he was recruited to BB by Mitchell H. Gail, M.D., Ph.D., senior investigator.  

Dr. Graubard is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA) and of the Statistics Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Among his numerous awards are the ASA and Biometric Society Snedecor Award for Applied Statistical Research and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Charles C. Shepard Science Award for Assessment and Epidemiology.