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Apr.25, 2012

Vol. 112, No. 11


Paul Meier *51

Published in the Apr.25, 2012, issue

Paul Meier, the eminent biostatistician and retired professor of statistics at Columbia, died Aug. 7, 2011. He was 87.

Meier graduated from Oberlin in 1945, and received a Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton in 1951. In 1952, he went to Johns Hopkins and rose to associate professor before leaving for Chicago in 1957. A full professor of statistics by 1962, he later became the Isham Distinguished Service Professor there. In 1992, he went to Columbia University as the Levene Professor of Statistics and head of the division of biostatistics at its School of Public Health.

Meier introduced certain statistical methods to analyze problems in biology and medicine. In 1958, he co-invented the “Kaplan-Meier estimator” to arrive at survival estimates in medical experiments. This graph has been used in thousands of studies.

He also was important for promoting randomization as essential in clinical trials to cancel out “confounding variables” and to detect the real effect, or lack of effect, of the treatment being studied. Much honored, Meier frequently advised federal regulatory agencies and private health organizations.

Meier is survived by his wife, Louise, whom he married in 1948; three daughters; and five grandchildren.

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