Jonathan A. Raz, associate professor of biostatistics, died on February 23, at the age of 44, unexpectedly from complications of a systemic bacterial infection. He received a B.S. degree in statistics and a Ph.D. in biostatistics from the University of California, Berkeley, and joined the faculty of the University of Michigan as a tenure-track assistant professor in 1991. He was promoted to tenured associate professor in 1995. Dr. Raz left Michigan in 1999 to assume a new faculty position at Penn.
Dr. Raz was internationally renowned for his innovative research on statistical methods for the analysis of repeated-measures data, biomedical signals and images. His research papers appeared in the top scholarly journals in statistics and electrical engineering, and were widely cited for their depth and rigor. His research was very interdisciplinary in nature, and attracted external research funding from NSF and NIH. Dr. Raz was a dedicated teacher and a very clear expositor of complex ideas. He was rigorous in his demands on students, but also very sympathetic to their needs and interested in their welfare. He introduced a number of courses to the Biostatistics graduate program on time series and repeated measures analysis, which added important dimensions to the teaching program. Because of his strong leadership and innovations as chair of the Ph.D. Candidacy Committee in Biostatistics, the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan is henceforth naming the award for the outstanding student performance on the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam the Jonathan Raz Award.
Jonathan, with his wife Jennifer Lenway, and their daughters Amelie and Abigail, moved to Swarthmore, in the summer of 1998 to begin a sabbatical year in biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania. During that year he developed highly productive collaborations with research investigators in the neurosciences, and was offered a permanent faculty position beginning July 1, 1999 as associate professor in the department of biostatistics and epidemiology within the School of Medicine, as well as a position as director of the Image Analysis Laboratory within a newly formed Center for Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN).
In the very short time since moving to Penn, Dr. Raz developed collaborative projects with neuroscientists, studying epilepsy and stroke using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), studying cognitive processing using fMRI, diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI), and perfusion MRI. With investigators in the Brain Behavior Laboratory (BBL) in the psychiatry department, Dr. Raz was collaborating on studies of cognitive function in schizophrenics and control subjects using fMRI, event-related potentials (ERPs), and positron emission tomography (PET).
In parallel with these multidisciplinary collaborative research projects, Dr. Raz was actively pursuing new statistical, mathematical, and computational methods for the analysis of images and time series, also in collaboration with Penn neuroscientists, always sensitive to ensure that the methodology would be relevant to neuroscience research and clinical practice. In particular, these methodological projects involved developing several improved methods for designing fMRI studies and analyzing fMRI data, and developing an innovative approach to inter-subject analysis of neuroimages. Most recently, Dr. Raz's own R01 grant application entitled Automatic Statistical Time-Frequency Analysis was funded to develop and evaluate new methods for the analysis of nonstationary time series, with particular application to electroenceophalography (EEG) recordings from epileptic patients. His colleagues included Drs. Litt and French in the Penn neurology department, Rainer von Sachs, Ph.D., Institut de Statistique, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, and Hernando Ombao, Ph.D. (a former dissertation student of his), now an assistant professor in the departments of statistics and psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Raz was working closely with Richard Greenblatt, Ph.D., president of Source Signal Imaging, Inc., which develops and markets software for processing and analysis of ERP and neuroimaging data, preparing to implement and market these new statistical methods for ERP analysis, including Dr. Raz's wavelet methods.
Dr. Raz loved to debate the issues of the day in statistics with his colleagues and students. He was an enthusiastic, energetic person with wide-ranging interests. Besides his work in statistics, he also wrote science fiction and poetry, and enjoyed astronomy, art and classical music. He was also a devoted family man who loved to spend time with his beloved wife Jennifer, and make up bedtime stories for his two delightful daughters. His many friends at Michigan, Penn and throughout the international statistical community including the American Statistical Association and the International Biometric Society will sorely miss him.
--Submitted by Dr. J. Richard Landis, Professor and Director, Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Chief, Division of Biostatistics
However, notices of alumni deaths should be directed to the Alumni Records Office at Room 545, Franklin Building, (215) 898-8136 or email@example.com.
Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 27, April 4, 2000