Howard Cabral

Howard J. Cabral, PhD

Professor, Biostatistics - Boston University School of Public Health


Howard Cabral is Professor of Biostatistics at the Boston University School of Public Health, where he has been on the faculty in the Department of Biostatistics since 1998. He is the founding Director of the Biostatistics and Research Design Program of the Boston University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. He has over 30 years of teaching, consulting, collaborating, and statistical research experience in a variety of biomedical fields. These include public health, epidemiology, behavioral sciences, health services, and basic physical sciences research and practice. His students have included undergraduates, Master's and doctoral level students in biostatistics and all other public health disciplines, medical sciences and dentistry, biomedical post-doctoral and clinical fellows including many K grant awardees, and faculty seeking additional training in statistical methods and research design. He is a former director of the Biostatistics Graduate Program in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Cabral was the recipient of the Norman A. Scotch Award for Excellence in Teaching for 2017 from the School of Public Health.

Dr. Cabral’s research spans both observational studies and randomized clinical trials, including well known studies in cardiovascular health and studies of the effects of substance use on human health across the life span, with currently 413 peer-reviewed publications. He has extensive experience in the analysis of longitudinal health data, especially those collected in urban areas with ethnic and socioeconomic diversity. His methodological interests are in the analysis of longitudinal data, randomized clinical trials in behavioral and health services research, risk prediction models in acute and chronic disease, the effects of missing data on statistical estimation, and statistical computing.

Dr. Cabral’s collaborative research has examined the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure on development from birth through age 22, randomized trials of problem solving education in treating parental depression, a randomized trial testing a peer-based model in retaining those infected with HIV in primary care, models to enhance the care of homeless patients living with HIV, differences in child and maternal health in those who did and did not received intervention through assisted reproductive technologies (ART) linking vital statistics, administrative public health and clinical databases in Massachusetts, randomized trials of computerized conversational agents in genetic counseling and pre-conception risk factor management, the use of advanced care directives in special populations, the relationship of health literacy to health care utilization, and the efficacy of patient navigation that addresses social determinants of health in women of race and ethnic minorities who are receiving care for breast cancer in all of the major hospitals in Boston. In addition, Dr. Cabral is an investigator on multiple new research projects that focus on the health of Black women: a randomized clinical trial of genetic counseling for cancer in the Black Women's Health study; the EDGE study of the early detection of genetic risk for cancer with the University of Washington; a randomized trial of intervention modalities for Black immigrant women living with HIV; a national study of bundled interventions to improve the health and well-being of Black women living with HIV; a multi-phase study of severe maternal morbidity (SMM) in Massachusetts, with intervention studies studying safety-related bundles and enhanced care by doulas; a randomized trial of virtual reality as a modality in the intervention for smoking cessation; and a study of community-level trauma after Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. Dr. Cabral is a developer of the BODE Index for risk assessment in patients with COPD, a nationally and internationally employed tool for risk prediction that has been cited in the literature over 2,600 times to-date. He was a member of the Committee on Depression, Parenting Practices, and the Healthy Development of Young Children of the
Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He is also a statistical consultant to the Institute of Community Health in Malden, MA and is a former statistical consultant to the Boston Public Health Commission.

Dr. Cabral has extensive experience as a peer reviewer for journals, NIH, and foundation-based research committees. Dr. Cabral provided his research and statistical methodologic expertise to a review panel of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science that examined the effects of parental depression on parenting practices and child development and published a widely recognized book on its findings. He has been the statistical editor for the Journal of Cardiac Surgery, and is currently serving on the editorial boards of Birth, the Journal for Health Literacy Research and Practice, and the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetic as the statistical editor. He was a member of the grant review committee for the Hood Foundation and served its chair. He has served on grant review committees for the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Reflecting his breadth of experience as a peer reviewer, he was a recipient of multiple awards from Publons as one of the top 1% of peer reviewers in clinical medicine.

In addition to his administrative role in the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, Dr. Cabral has served Boston University as a member and current chair of the Financial Conflict of Interest Committee and on the Committee for Academic Program Review, the Responsible Conduct of Research Advisory Committee, the Committee on Academic Program Review, and the Grievance Committee.


  • Boston University School of Public Health, PhD Field of Study: Biostatistics
  • Boston University School of Public Health, MPH Field of Study: Epidemiology
  • College of the Holy Cross, BA Field of Study: Modern Languages

Classes Taught

  • SPHBS805
  • SPHBS980


  • Published on 2/2/2024

    Cohen GH, Wang R, Rosenberg SB, Sampson L, Lowe SR, Cabral H, Ruggiero K, Galea S. Neighborhood-level economic characteristics and depression and PTSD symptoms among Houstonians who have experienced Hurricane Harvey and COVID-19. Psychiatry Res. 2024 Mar; 333:115766. PMID: 38335779.

    Read At: PubMed
  • Published on 12/2/2023

    Connolly JJ, Ahmed HS, Chung EC, Cabral HJ, Nagar A, Tami A, Schroy PC, Mohanty A. Estimate of Increase in Colorectal Cancer Diagnoses with Expansion of Fecal Immunochemical Testing in an Urban Safety-Net Population. Dig Dis Sci. 2024 Feb; 69(2):360-369. PMID: 38041763.

    Read At: PubMed
  • Published on 11/1/2023

    Bains A, Osathanugrah P, Sanjiv N, Chiu C, Fiorello MG, Siegel NH, Peeler CE, Distefano AG, Lee HJ, Ness S, Desai MA, Titelbaum JR, Pira T, LaMattina KC, Christiansen SP, Cabral HJ, Subramanian ML. Diverse Research Teams and Underrepresented Groups in Clinical Studies. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2023 Nov 01; 141(11):1037-1044. PMID: 37856135.

    Read At: PubMed
  • Published on 10/24/2023

    Quintiliani LM, Kamaka M, Henault L, Antonio MCK, Sentell T, Spencer K, Akaka G, Honda LKL, Hanakeawe D, Dillard A, Kekauoha BP, Davis AD, Seitz R, Cabral HJ, Volandes A, Leimomi Mala Mau MK, Paasche-Orlow MK. I kua na'u "Let me carry out your last wishes" Clinical trial protocol to promote advance care planning among native Hawaiian populations. Contemp Clin Trials. 2023 Dec; 135:107365. PMID: 37884121.

    Read At: PubMed
  • Published on 10/5/2023

    Declercq ER, Cabral HJ, Liu CL, Amutah-Onukagha N, Meadows A, Cui X, Diop H. Prior Hospitalization, Severe Maternal Morbidity, and Pregnancy-Associated Deaths in Massachusetts From 2002 to 2019. Obstet Gynecol. 2023 Dec 01; 142(6):1423-1430. PMID: 37797329.

    Read At: PubMed
  • Published on 9/28/2023

    Yuan M, Hu FB, Li Y, Cabral HJ, Das SK, Deeney JT, Zhou X, Paik JM, Moore LL. Types of dairy foods and risk of fragility fracture in the prospective Nurses' Health Study cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2023 Dec; 118(6):1172-1181. PMID: 37777015.

    Read At: PubMed
  • Published on 9/7/2023

    Mottl-Santiago J, Dukhovny D, Cabral H, Rodrigues D, Spencer L, Valle EA, Feinberg E. Effectiveness of an Enhanced Community Doula Intervention in a Safety Net Setting: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Health Equity. 2023; 7(1):466-476. PMID: 37731785.

    Read At: PubMed
  • Published on 9/5/2023

    Volandes AE, Zupanc SN, Lakin JR, Cabral HJ, Burns EA, Carney MT, Lopez S, Itty J, Emmert K, Martin NJ, Cole T, Dobie A, Cucinotta T, Joel M, Caruso LB, Henault L, Dugas JN, Astone K, Winter M, Wang N, Davis AD, Garde C, Rodriguez PM, El-Jawahri A, Moseley ET, Das S, Sciacca K, Ramirez AM, Gromova V, Lambert S, Sanghani S, Lindvall C, Paasche-Orlow MK. Video Intervention and Goals-of-Care Documentation in Hospitalized Older Adults: The VIDEO-PCE Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2023 Sep 05; 6(9):e2332556. PMID: 37695586.

    Read At: PubMed
  • Published on 9/4/2023

    Vazirani A, Rodriguez A, Pavesi F, McDermott S, Cabral H, Billatos E, Suzuki K. Black race and lower age at surgery are associated with smoking relapse in a safety-net setting after surgery for stage I non-small cell lung cancer. J Thorac Dis. 2023 Sep 28; 15(9):4757-4764. PMID: 37868906.

    Read At: PubMed
  • Published on 8/31/2023

    Dia M, Albrecht MM, Sanayei N, Cabral H, Martin DC, Subramanian ML, Ness S, Siegel NH, Desai M, Chen X. Patient Satisfaction with the Hybrid Telemedicine Model for Ophthalmology. Telemed J E Health. 2024 Feb; 30(2):499-508. PMID: 37651189.

    Read At: PubMed

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