2023 L. Adrienne Cupples Award goes to Johns Hopkins Professor Brian Caffo.
2023 L. Adrienne Cupples Award goes to Johns Hopkins Professor Brian Caffo
Caffo is an accomplished researcher in biomedicine, a trailblazer in online and open education, and a highly-regarded colleague and mentor.
The 2023 L. Adrienne Cupples Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research, and Service in Biostatistics has been awarded to Brian Caffo, professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (BSPH). Caffo will visit BUSPH on April 6 to receive the award and present on his work.
Caffo is a global expert on the statistical analysis of imaging data, particularly neuroimaging data. He has made major contributions to both methodological research in statistical computing and applied research in various areas including Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, autism, transplant surgery, and HIV prevention. The focus of Caffo’s recent research and the subject of his presentation at SPH, is biocomputing, specifically the potential intelligence applications of organoids (self-assembling, three-dimensional cell cultures that mimic the structure and function of organs, like the human brain). He also plans to talk about statistical methods for studying neurogenesis in vitro in pluripotent stem cells.
“We are in the midst of a sort of data renaissance,” says Caffo, “where statistical input on biomedical and public health research is more important than ever. It’s hard not to be excited being a quantitative researcher in biomedicine at a time like that!”
The L. Adrienne Cupples Award is presented each year by the Department of Biostatistics at Boston University School of Public Health. It recognizes a biostatistician whose academic achievements reflect the contributions to biostatistics exemplified by the late L. Adrienne Cupples, who was an emeritus professor of biostatistics and epidemiology and the award’s first recipient.
“Brian Caffo is an internationally recognized biostatistician who has made broad and impactful contributions to the statistical sciences through teaching, research, and service,” says Debbie Cheng, interim chair of the Department of Biostatistics. “He is held in the highest regard within the field of biostatistics, with colleagues describing him as brilliant, creative, and one of the kindest, most supportive colleagues, mentors, and educators in our profession. Dr. Caffo’s remarkable achievements embody so well the qualities that we deeply admired about Adrienne.”
In an academic career spanning more than five decades, Cupples advanced the field of biostatistics through extensive publications in major journals and book chapters on collaborative and methodological research, development, and effective teaching of a wide range of biostatistics courses, and mentorship of numerous graduate students and faculty.
“[Receiving] the award is very deeply meaningful for me,” says Caffo. “Dr. Cupples is exactly the sort of biostatistician I’d like to model my career after. The [previous award] recipients are all truly stellar biostatisticians and [it is a] club that I am humbled and proud to be included in. I am looking forward to the opportunity to visit BU and very happy that the award has given me that opportunity.”
On top of his enthusiasm for cutting-edge research, Caffo is also a trailblazer in online and open education. He helped develop the platform swirl, a popular R package, which turns the R console into interactive modules for learning and teaching the statistical programming language. Caffo’s books are freely available on LeanPub. His educational YouTube channel has more than 500 videos and over 15,000 subscribers. He is currently the co-director of the Johns Hopkins Data Science Lab, a group dedicated to making data science accessible to everyone, and the Johns Hopkins Joint High Performance Computing Exchange, a supercomputing center. At the Data Science Lab, Caffo helped produce a collection of massive open online courses (MOOCs), including a ten-course Coursera Data Science specialization, which is among the most subscribed online programs of its kind with over seven million cumulative enrollments.
“I’m especially happy with how earnestly the online students have engaged with the material,” says Caffo. “I’m particularly fond of a letter I received from a mother who was printing out the quizzes and notes and taking them to her son who was incarcerated and had no access to a computer to take an online course.”
Caffo’s work has earned him prestigious awards before, including two BSPH awards for teaching based on nominations from his students and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientist and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government for science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their research careers. He has also served on numerous grant review panels, as an associate editor for multiple major journals, and in several faculty leadership positions, including as graduate coordinator and admission director for the BSPH Biostatistics Department and president of the faculty senate.
The L. Adrienne Cupples Award celebration on April 6 will run from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in Hiebert Lounge and online.
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