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Lincoln E. Moses

Lincoln Moses

In 1948 the brand-new Statistics Department at Stanford enrolled three graduate students: Lincoln Moses was among them, and the only one studying for a PhD from the start. He became the first statistics student to complete the oral examinations and the second to get his degree, forming a cohort of one in 1950-51. (Herb Solomon joined later but submitted his dissertation sooner.) After a brief stint at Teacher's College of Columbia University he later described as grueling, Moses returned to Stanford and the Statistics Department in 1952 with the first joint appointment in the School of Medicine's Department of Health Research and Policy (then Community, Family and Preventive Medicine). There he remained until his retirement in 1992.

When the School of Medicine moved to Stanford's main campus in 1959, Moses helped found the Division of Biostatistics (now the Department of Biomedical Data Science), bringing in Bill Brown and Brad Efron, among others. The story goes that Statistics Department chair Albert Bowker had said, "There is no place for statistics in medical research." And Moses had replied: "Well if there is not, there will be." He later reported that his most enjoyable teaching experiences were with the Biostatistics Workshop, begun in 1958 and still going today.

“There is a big place for statisticians in medical research and it should happen at Stanford. We should be enabling students to look at biostatistics. We should recruit from the statistics department, offer training in biostatistics and hope to entice well-motivated students to stay in that field. They responded for twenty years and still do.”