December 2019

Inmaculada "Chichi" Aban, PhD This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Professor, Biostatistics

Is there a story behind "Chichi"?

My mom always called me Chichi. Now, I tell people that it stands for χ2.

Broad research focus?

Clinical trial data coordinating centers, rare diseases, pediatrics, applied statistics, adult cardiology, myasthenia gravis.

Year you joined SOPH?

2004. My good friend Gary Cutter was moving to UAB and I thought that sounded like a great opportunity to focus on the application of statistics and solving real-world problems.

Your favorite part of research?

I love that I get to work on real-world problems and am hopefully making a difference. I enjoy being part of a team and working with excellent colleagues across UAB. In the role of statistician, I have been able to learn about numerous different diseases and therapeutic areas. I also have the privilege of performing Interim analyses for clinical trials while making sure the other investigators remain blinded. I have developed a poker face! All of these experiences also allow me to provide context for students learning statistical theories and I think this is very important in the learning process.

Favorite (first-authored) paper?

I don't work on many theoretical papers but in 2006, a colleague from Reno and I published a theoretical manuscript about an idea we had for treating outliers. We were thrilled to have it accepted by the Journal of the American Statistical Association, one of the premiere journals for statistics. It's been fun to see how our technique is being applied in a wide range of disciplines such as astronomy, physics, economics. I have been pleasantly surprised that this is my most highly cited first-authored statistical methodology paper.

Inmaculada B Aban, Mark M Meerschaert & Anna K Panorska (2006). Parameter Estimation for the Truncated Pareto Distribution. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 101:473, 270-277.

One exciting on-going project?

I enjoy all of the projects I am working on right now. I am involved in two rare disease networks: one focused on infectious disease pediatrics and another focused on myasthenia gravis. David Kimberlin and I have a new study where we are trying to understand the natural history of acute flacid myletis (AFM). It is a serious neurologic disease of the spinal cord with polio-like symptoms. There are some studies linking AFM to enterovirus D68. A biennial pattern in case presentation has been observed during summer and early fall every two years since 2014, with sequential increases in frequency in 2016 and 2018. Results of this study will provide a better understanding of the epidemiology and natural history of AFM. It also will provide a biorepository of specimens and associated clinical and outcome data for future use, including more intensive virologic or immunologic assessments.

Any new disciplines that you'd like to research?

The Department of Defense has a new program to fund research on autism spectrum disorder. They are focusing on better diagnosis, treatment, life transitions and quality of life for persons affected by autism and their caregivers and families. I am eager to collaborate if others are interested.

If not academia, then...?

I think I would be a clinical psychologist.