In addition to her role as dean of the College of Science at Virginia Tech, Sally C. Morton remains deeply active in the field of biostatistics with the recent publication of the textbook “Methods in Comparative Effectiveness Research.

The textbook, co-edited by Morton with Constantine Gatsonis, a fellow biostatistician from Brown University, hit shelves in February. The 550-plus-page book describes statistical methods in comparative effectiveness research (CER) in health care.

In CER, experts look at studies comparing two active treatments – for instance, Tylenol versus Advil for back pain, as opposed to Tylenol versus placebo. CER seeks to answer “what works best, for whom, and under what circumstances,” Morton said.

Comparative effectiveness research received increased focus in 2009 when federal funding became available via health care reform.

“A colleague at a publisher asked us to consider doing a book, so Constantine and I got together and put together a list of authors,” said Morton, also professor in the College of Science’s Department of Statistics.

The book not only considers methodology, but also focuses on producing evidence to help patients, their families, and their health care providers make better decisions.

“We wanted to demonstrate how statistics can make a difference,” Morton said.

The book is Morton’s second edited book, following “Public Policy and Statistics: Case Studies from RAND,” co-edited with John Rolph, a mentor and former supervisor at the RAND Corporation, a public policy think tank located in Santa Monica, California, where Morton began her career as a statistician.

Morton joined the College of Science in July 2016, previously serving as chair of the Department of Biostatistics in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. There, she also directed the Comparative Effectiveness Research Center in the Health Policy Institute and held appointments in the university’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, Department of Statistics, and the Clinical and Translation Science Institute.

Morton holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematical sciences, a master’s degree in operations research, and a doctoral degree in statistics, all from Stanford University, as well as a master’s degree in statistics from the London School of Economics. 

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