Rafael Irizarry, PhD, Named Lavine Family Chair for Preventative Cancer Therapies at Dana-Farber

Department Chair Rafael A. Irizarry, PhD, is the next incumbent to the Lavine Family Chair for Preventative Cancer Therapies at Dana-Farber. This chair is one of three endowed positions established by Dana-Farber Trustee Jonathan Lavine and his wife, Jeannie, through their extraordinary gift in 2020 to The Dana-Farber Campaign to leverage the Institute’s research efforts and develop comprehensive prevention and early detection models for all cancers.

As Chair of the Department of Data Science at Dana-Farber, Rafa leads efforts to collect, curate, develop methods, and analyze vast amounts of data that help improve treatments for patients. He is also a Professor of Biostatics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Puerto Rico in 1993 and his PhD in statistics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1998. He joined Dana-Farber in 2013.

A renowned applied statistician committed to leveraging data to solve real-world problems, Rafa focuses on genomics and improving cancer care through data-driven approaches. Specifically, he has worked on the analysis and signal processing of data generated by emerging high-throughput technologies, which are technologies that sequence DNA and RNA in a rapid and cost-effective way. He is one of the founders of the Bioconductor Project, an open source and open development software project for the analysis of genomic data. Rafa has repeatedly been named in the Highly Cited Researchers list by the Institute for Scientific Information at Clarivate, most recently in 2021.

Rafa has received several awards for his excellence in the fields of statistics, computational biology, and bioinformatics. In 2009, the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies presented him with the Presidents’ Award, arguably the most prestigious award in statistics. In 2017, he was chosen as the laureate of the Benjamin Franklin Award in the Life Sciences by the members of Bioinformatics.org, which recognizes an individual dedicated to free and open access to materials and methods used in the life sciences. In 2020, he was named International Society of Computational Biology Fellow of the Year by the International Society of Computational Biology. Rafa is also deeply dedicated to teaching and mentoring the next generation of data scientists and has developed some of the most popular online courses on data analysis, sharing many of these materials freely online.

As a Lavine Family Chair for Preventative Cancer Therapies at Dana-Farber, Rafa will continue to collaborate with investigators across disease areas to find new prevention and detection strategies, enhance our efforts to maximize the latest advances in data science, and lead us in exploring a new frontier in cancer genomics.

– Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

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