Pfizer to fund doctoral study fellowships, seminars in biostatistics at Rutgers

Five-year commitment reflects importance of mathematics in life sciences

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. – A Rutgers graduate student in biostatistics is the first recipient of a doctoral fellowship funded by Pfizer, Inc., a leading pharmaceutical and consumer products company. The company is also funding a series of professional seminars for graduate students and faculty in the Rutgers statistics department.

Valued at $300,000 over five years, Pfizer's commitment reflects the ever-increasing integration of mathematics into the life sciences, from research and development to the commercialization of medicines and biotechnology.

The student, Andrew Magyar, is in his first year of doctoral study at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. The Pfizer fellowship will provide him a stipend, research support and summer internships with the company.

"Statistics is very much an applied science, so my summer work at Pfizer will help me learn what kinds of career opportunities are available," Magyar said. "I also hope to get ideas for dissertation topics while working with Pfizer statisticians and scientists."

Presenting the award to Magyar during a ceremony at Rutgers Friday, Oct. 13, were Frank Caridi, executive director, statistics, at Pfizer Research and Development, and Michael Pazzani, vice president for research and graduate and professional education at Rutgers.

"Major pharmaceutical companies employ hundreds of Ph.D. statisticians to work in all aspects of the industry, from drug discovery to clinical trials and product marketing," Pazzani said. "By funding this fellowship, Pfizer is investing in developing highly qualified statisticians who can serve their industry and the broader biomedical sector – cornerstones of New Jersey's economy and drivers of its future growth."

Pazzani noted that nearly three-quarters of the students earning doctorates in statistics at Rutgers will go on to careers in the pharmaceutical industry.

"Pfizer has a long commitment of supporting education in New York and New Jersey," Caridi said. "Biostatisticians play a critical role in pharmaceutical research. Through our partnership with the Rutgers Biostatistics Institute, we hope to expand the number of students pursuing the field of statistics and prepare them to fulfill these essential roles. We also hope that the partnership will encourage and facilitate the exchange of ideas, expertise and learning opportunities between a center of excellence for academic statistics and the pharmaceutical industry.

Pfizer plans to award an additional fellowship each year to a new Rutgers doctoral student focusing on biostatistics. The company is also sponsoring professional seminars for graduate students and faculty, bringing them to corporate headquarters in New York City for presentations by its researchers and executives. The annual commitment for the seminars is $23,000 over five years.

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The department of statistics at Rutgers supports undergraduate and graduate education programs with a number of specialties, including biostatistics. Affiliated with the department is the Institute of Biostatistics, which conducts research and education programs in collaboration with other life science endeavors at the university. These include pharmacy, genetics, aging and health care policy, and in partnership with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, psychiatry, neurogenetics and surgery.


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