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For immediate use

August 25, 2000 -- No. 434


Statistics professor wins top international honor

CHAPEL HILL -- Dr. Jianqing Fan, professor of statistics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has received the top international award given annually to a statistician under the age of 40 for major contributions to the profession.

The Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) Presidentsí Award honors Fan, 37, for his "important and wide-ranging contributions to statistics," according to the award citation.

Fanís research addresses one of the most important problems of modern statistics: finding nonlinear relationships among large sets of variables. Many techniques focus on such an objective for doing this, said Dr. Richard Smith, chairman of UNC-CHís statistics department. In a series of papers in the early 1990s, he said, Fan developed some deep mathematical properties for one of these methods, known as local linear regression.

"Fanís work both settled a long-running dispute between two camps and also initiated a major shift in the direction of both research and applications," said Smith.

"As a result of his work, local linear regression became established as probably the best of the methods available for this problem, and the method is now incorporated into several statistical packages," said Smith. "Moreover, the same ideas have been applied to a variety of related statistical problems, such as survival data analysis (studying how the survival time of an individual in a clinical trial depends on the treatment given as well as personal prognostic factors) and the analysis of financial time series (studying how the volatility of a stock or bond index changes over time)."

The Presidentsí Award also honored Fan for his contributions to different areas of theoretical and applied statistics, for his guidance of graduate students, and for his work as a journal referee and associate editor.

Fan, who earned his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, joined the UNC-CH faculty in 1989. He is on sabbatical leave this year at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.


UNC-CH medicine professor named editor of top journal

Dr. David A. Brenner, professor of medicine at the UNC-CH School of Medicine, has been named the next editor-in-chief of the journal Gastroenterology.

"This journal is unquestionably the most prestigious journal in its field. Previously the editor and associate editors were located at Harvard, the Mayo Clinic, the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of California-San Francisco," Brenner said. "This is a first for a Southern institution and represents a real validation that UNC gastroenterology is one of the nationís premier programs."

Brenner is chief of digestive diseases and nutrition and a professor of biochemistry and biophysics. His research involves the regulation of gene expression in the liver and intestines under normal and disease states. He is interested in applying modern molecular biological techniques to the study of gastrointestinal diseases. Brenner received his medical degree from Yale in 1979.

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College of Arts and Sciences contact: Dee Reid, (919) 843-6339