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Helen Abbey and Margaret Merrell Professorship in Biostatistics Education

Bloomberg School of Public Health

Established in 2004 through a bequest from Helen Abbey and supplemented by faculty, alumni, and friends to honor Drs. Abbey and Merrell


HELEN ABBEY, ScD ’51 (1915-2001), taught biostatistics to generations of public health scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health from 1952 until poor health obliged her to retire in 1999. In addition to teaching, she wrote scholarly articles on medical genetics and chronic diseases. In 1971, she was the first recipient of the school’s Golden Apple Award, which students bestow upon the school’s best teachers. She received this award three times. In 1991, on the occasion of the school’s 75th anniversary, Dr. Abbey was named a Hero of Public Health. She died in 2001 and, through her estate, provided one-half of the funding needed to establish this professorship. Hundreds of donors–faculty, alumni, and friends–generously and lovingly made up the difference.


MerrellMargaretMARGARET MERRELL, ScD ‘30 (1925-1959) was an academic leader in the Department of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health for 30 years. Known as one of the finest teachers of biostatistics to health professionals, Dr. Merrell was awarded an honorary degree from The Johns Hopkins University in 1981. The citation praised both her teaching and scholarship. She was a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She retired to New Hampshire in 1959, and died in 1995.

Held by Marie Diener-West

diener-westmarieMARIE DIENER-WEST, PhD ‘84, the inaugural Helen Abbey and Margaret Merrell Professor of Biostatistical Education, is one of the world’s premier statistical educators. She was a student of Dr. Abbey, and, following in her footsteps, is the only seven-time recipient of the Golden Apple Award. Dr. Diener-West joined the Hopkins faculty in 1986, and was promoted to professor in 2000 in recognition of her contributions to statistical education and research in multi-center clinical trials. In 2008, Dr. Diener-West became Chair of the Master of Public Health Program at the School but continues teaching introductory biostatistics. She is a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Society for Clinical Trials.