College of Public Health students graduating

Charnigo Named University of Kentucky Research Professor

Richard J. Charnigo, PhD, Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health has been named a University Research Professor. The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees approved University Research Professorships for 2014-2015 Friday, May 9, 2014. 

Dr. Charnigo holds a joint appointment in the Department of Biostatistics and Department of Statistics (College of Arts and Sciences). He received his PhD in Statistics from Case Western Reserve University in 2003. His research interests include mixture modeling, nonparametric smoothing, cardiology, psychology, and public health.

As a University Research Professor, Dr. Charnigo plans to develop new statistical methodology for deciding among or quantitatively combining rules for classifying a sample based on a regression curve that may characterize the sample, in much the same way that a handwritten signature may identify a particular individual.  For instance, the sample may be human breast tissue, the regression curve may be a Raman spectrum, and the classification may be normal, abnormal benign, or abnormal malignant.  Or, the sample may be a collection of nanoparticles, the regression curve may describe how the nanoparticles scatter radiation, and the classification may be whether the nanoparticles possess properties conducive to thermophotovoltaic power conversion.  These endeavors continue a long-standing effort, undertaken in collaboration with Dr. Cidambi Srinivasan, Professor of Statistics, and others, to pursue new frontiers in nonparametric smoothing and its scientific applications.

Dr. Charnigo also plans, in collaboration with Dr. Claude Elayi, Associate Professor of Medicine, and others, to address a controversial problem in cardiovascular health using a state-of-the-art analytic technique.  The AFFIRM clinical trial provided data suggesting that a medication called digoxin may increase mortality among patients with atrial fibrillation.  However, patients were not randomized to digoxin versus a competing therapy, so some question remains regarding whether the apparent increase in mortality was due to digoxin or occurred because digoxin was assigned to patients who were more severely ill.  Indeed, two research teams arrived at contradictory conclusions using different statistical methods.  Dr. Charnigo and collaborators will revisit the question, attempting to provide more definitive guidance to physicians, using a data analysis technique superior to either of those employed previously.

The University Research Professors program's purpose is to enhance and encourage scholarly research productivity, provide an opportunity for concentrated research effort for selected faculty members, and to recognize outstanding research achievement by members of the faculty. Funds for these annual awards are provided by the Office of the Vice President for Research.