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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Columbia: Gen Li Receives Inaugural Sanford Bolton Award

Dr. Gen Li, assistant professor of biostatistics at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, is the inaugural recipient of the Sanford Bolton Award, recognizing his expertise in integrating diverse data types to provide valuable clinical insights. The award is named in honor of Dr. Sanford Bolton, MS ‘66, a Columbia Mailman alumnus who was a leader in the field of pharmaceutical statistics.

In a recent study of melanoma patients, Dr. Li collaborated with oncologists to combine information collected through imaging tests and genetics. The result, published in the journal Cancer Immunology Research, demonstrated the technique’s ability to offer a more accurate prognosis.

“In our age of Big Data, size isn’t everything,” he says. “Digesting the sheer volume of information often isn’t as challenging as pulling together multiple data sources into a coherent picture.”

Dr. Li earned his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015; that same year he joined the biostatistics faculty at Columbia Mailman. In 2016, he received the School’s Calderone Junior Faculty Award, which provided funding for his melanoma study.  Going forward, he is interested in exploring areas such as the connections between imaging studies and genetics, and between a variety of “omic” markers related to DNA (genome), RNA (transcriptome), microbiome, and proteins (proteome).

Currently, he is working to develop novel statistical methods to investigate the relationships between different types of genetic data. To advance this research, he is a member of the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) Consortium, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund program aimed at improving genome-wide association studies by accounting for various disease pathways.