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Pitt Public Health Biostatistics Expert Appointed to National Organization Formed to Provide Better Health Care Information

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 22, 2014Sally C. Morton, Ph.D., chair of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics, has been appointed to the Methodology Committee of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). 
The nonprofit, nongovernmental institute’s goal is to give patients a better understanding of their health care options and the underlying science that evaluates those options. Dr. Morton will focus on providing the committee with advice on statistical methods, techniques and analysis of research on providing care that supports the active involvement of patients and their families in treatment decisions.
“I’m honored to be appointed to this committee,” said Dr. Morton, who has served as the statistical expert to the committee since 2012. “The work PCORI does is critical to ensuring that patients and their caregivers make informed decisions, backed by the latest research, on the health care treatments that are best for them in their particular circumstances.”
PCORI, located in Washington, D.C., was created through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. In fulfilling its mandate to improve the quality and relevance of evidence available to help patients, caregivers, clinicians, employers, insurers and policy makers make informed health decisions, PCORI funds patient-centered comparative effectiveness research and supports work to improve the methods used to conduct such studies.
In addition to Dr. Morton, the GAO appointed Cynthia Girman, Dr.P.H., of Merck Research Laboratories, and Neil Powe, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., of San Francisco General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco, to the committee.
“The Methodology Committee is honored to welcome Drs. Morton, Powe and Girman as members. We couldn’t be more pleased to have them join the committee,” said Methodology Committee Chair Robin Newhouse, Ph.D., R.N. “Their world-class expertise will be a tremendous asset as we continue to fulfill our mandate to develop and improve the science and methods of comparative clinical effectiveness research and work closely to make research more rigorous and patient-centered.”
“Dr. Morton is exceptionally well-qualified for this committee, and I’m confident she’ll make valuable contributions to help PCORI leverage the latest in biostatistical analysis to yield the most robust conclusions for its research,” said Donald S. Burke, M.D., Pitt Public Health dean and UPMC-Jonas Salk Chair of Global Health. “Ultimately, her work will make a critical impact on how health care treatment decisions are made.”
Dr. Morton also directs the Pitt Health Policy Institute’s Comparative Effectiveness Research Center. Comparative effectiveness research involves comparing health care interventions to determine which treatment works best for whom and under what circumstances. She holds secondary appointments in Pitt’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the Department of Statistics.
Her research interests include the use of statistics in evidence-based medicine, particularly meta-analysis, standards for observational data analysis and research synthesis.
Dr. Morton is a member of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Evidence-Based Practice Center Program Methods Steering Committee, and served previously on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on National Statistics. She was the 2009 president of the American Statistical Association and the 2013 chair of the Statistics Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She received her Ph.D. in statistics from Stanford University.

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