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Pitt Public Health Biostatistician Receives Fellowship from World’s Top Scientific Society

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 24, 2014 – James J. Schlesselman, Ph.D., professor emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society, fellowship in which is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. This year, 401 members will be awarded fellowship to recognize their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. This year’s AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in the journal Science on Friday.

Dr. Schlesselman, who retired from Pitt Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics, remains active in the field of biostatistics and epidemiology, doing consulting work in the United States and abroad.

“To be recognized by the AAAS for my work is humbling. All that I sought to do over the years is encapsulated in the title of an article by the late mathematical statistician Jerzy Neyman: ‘Statistics – Servant of All Sciences,’” which ran in Science in 1955, said Dr. Schlesselman.

As part of the AAAS Section of Statistics, Dr. Schlesselman was elected as an AAAS Fellow for his body of work in statistical methods and leadership; key studies of vaccines, nutrition and reproductive health; and expert advice to international and U.S. governmental agencies.

“This AAAS Fellowship recognizes Dr. Schlesselman’s significant methodological contributions and leadership as a statistical scientist. We are very fortunate to have him as our colleague in the discipline and in our department,” said Sally C. Morton, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Biostatistics at Pitt Public Health.

Dr. Schlesselman received his Ph.D. in statistics from Princeton University in 1971 while working as a biostatistician at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in studies of human reproduction, vaccine field trials, nutrition and disabilities. He served at the NIH until 1981, rising to the rank of chief of the biometry branch in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

From there he served on the faculty at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., Pitt’s School of Medicine and the University of Miami before returning to Pitt in 2004 to lead the biostatistics facility at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Over the years, Dr. Schlesselman has been called on to advise and work with components of the World Health Organization, International Atomic Energy Agency, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  the NIH and the Agency for International Development, among others.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Dr. Schlesselman and the other 400 fellows will be presented with an official fellowship certificate and rosette pin on Feb. 14, 2015, during the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose, Calif.

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