Jian Kang

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Dr. Kang’s research focuses on the developments of statistical methods motivated by biomedical applications with a focus on neuroimaging. His recent key contributions can be summarized in the following three aspects:

Bayesian regression for complex biomedical applications
Dr. Kang and his group developed a series of Bayesian regression methods for the association analysis between the clinical outcome of interests (disease diagnostics, survival time, psychiatry scores) and the potential biomarkers in biomedical applications such as neuroimaging and genomics. In particular, they developed a new class of threshold priors as compelling alternatives to classic continuous shrinkages priors in Bayesian literatures and widely used penalization methods in frequentist literatures. Dr. Kang’s methods can substantially increase the power to detect weak but highly dependent signals by incorporating useful structural information of predictors such as spatial proximity within brain anatomical regions in neuroimaging [Zhao et al 2018; Kang et al 2018, Xue et al 2019] and gene networks in genomics [Cai et al 2017; Cai et al 2019]. Dr Kang’s methods can simultaneously select variables and evaluate the uncertainty of variable selection, as well as make inference on the effect size of the selected variables. His works provide a set of new tools for biomedical researchers to identify important biomarkers using different types of biological knowledge with statistical guarantees. In addition, Dr. Kang’s work is among the first to establish rigorous theoretical justifications for Bayesian spatial variable selection in imaging data analysis [Kang et al 2018] and Bayesian network marker selection in genomics [Cai et al 2019]. Dr. Kang’s theoretical contributions not only offer a deep understanding of the soft-thresholding operator on smooth functions, but also provide insights on which types of the biological knowledge may be useful to improve biomarker detection accuracy.

Prior knowledge guided variable screening for ultrahigh-dimensional data
Dr. Kang and his colleagues developed a series of variable screening methods for ultrahigh-dimensional data analysis by incorporating the useful prior knowledge in biomedical applications including imaging [Kang et al 2017, He et al 2019], survival analysis [Hong et al 2018] and genomics [He et al 2019]. As a preprocessing step for variable selection, variable screening is a fast-computational approach to dimension reduction. Traditional variable screening methods overlook useful prior knowledge and thus the practical performance is unsatisfying in many biomedical applications. To fill this gap, Dr. Kang developed a partition-based ultrahigh-dimensional variable screening method under generalized linear model, which can naturally incorporate the grouping and structural information in biomedical applications. When prior knowledge is unavailable or unreliable, Dr. Kang proposed a data-driven partition screening framework on covariate grouping and investigate its theoretical properties. The two special cases proposed by Dr. Kang: correlation-guided partitioning and spatial location guided partitioning are practically extremely useful for neuroimaging data analysis and genome-wide association analysis. When multiple types of grouping information are available, Dr. Kang proposed a novel theoretically justified strategy for combining screening statistics from various partitioning methods. It provides a very flexible framework for incorporating different types of prior knowledge.

Brain network modeling and inferences
Dr. Kang and his colleagues developed several new statistical methods for brain network modeling and inferences using resting-state fMRI data [Kang et al 2016, Xie and Kang 2017, Chen et al 2018]. Due to the high dimensionality of fMRI data (over 100,000 voxels in a standard brain template) with small sample sizes (hundreds of participants in a typical study), it is extremely challenging to model the brain functional connectivity network at voxel-levels. Some existing methods model brain anatomical region-level networks using the region-level summary statistics computed from voxel-level data. Those methods may suffer low power to detect the signals and have an inflated false positive rate, since the summary statistics may not well capture the heterogeneity within the predefined brain regions. To address those limitations, Dr. Kang proposed a novel method based on multi-attribute canonical correlation graphs [Kang et al 2016] to construct region-level brain network using voxel-level data. His method can capture different types of nonlinear dependence between any two brain regions consisting of hundreds or thousands of voxels. He also developed permutation tests for assessing the significance of the estimated network. His methods can largely increase power to detect signals for small sample size problems. In addition, Dr. Kang and his colleague also developed theoretically justified high-dimensional tests [Xie and Kang 2017] for constructing region-level brain networks using the voxel-level data under the multivariate normal assumption. Their theoretical results provide a useful guidance for the future development of statistical methods and theory for brain network analysis.


This image illustrates the neuroimaging meta-analysis data (Kang etal 2014). Neuroimaging meta-analysis is an important tool for finding consistent effects over studies. We develop a Bayesian nonparametric model and perform a meta-analysis of five emotions from 219 studies. In addition, our model can make reverse inference by using the model to predict the emotion type from a newly presented study. Our method outperforms other methods with an average of 80% accuracy.

1. Cai Q, Kang J, Yu T (2020) Bayesian variable selection over large scale networks via the thresholded graph Laplacian Gaussian prior with application to genomics. Bayesian Analysis, In Press (Earlier version won a student paper award from Biometrics Section of the ASA in JSM 2017)
2. He K, Kang J, Hong G, Zhu J, Li Y, Lin H, Xu H, Li Y (2019) Covariance-insured screening. Computational Statistics and Data Analysis: 132, 100—114.
3. He K, Xu H, Kang J† (2019) A selective overview of feature screening methods with applications to neuroimaging data, WRIES Computational Statistics, 11(2) e1454
4. Chen S, Xing Y, Kang J, Kochunov P, Hong LE (2018). Bayesian modeling of dependence in brain connectivity, Biostatistics, In Press.
5. Kang J, Reich BJ, Staicu AM (2018) Scalar-on-image regression via the soft thresholded Gaussian process. Biometrika: 105(1) 165–184.
6. Xue W, Bowman D and Kang J (2018) A Bayesian spatial model to predict disease status using imaging data from various modalities. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 12:184. doi:10.3389/fnins.2018.00184
7. Jin Z*, Kang J†, Yu T (2018) Missing value imputation for LC-MS metabolomics data by incorporating metabolic network and adduct ion relations. Bioinformatics, 34(9):1555—1561.
8. He K, Kang J† (2018) Comments on “Computationally efficient multivariate spatio-temporal models for high-dimensional count-valued data “. Bayesian Analysis, 13(1) 289-291.
9. Hong GH, Kang J†, Li Y (2018) Conditional screening for ultra-high dimensional covariates with survival outcomes. Lifetime Data Analysis: 24(1) 45-71.
10. Zhao Y*, Kang J†, Long Q (2018) Bayesian multiresolution variable selection for ultra-high dimensional neuroimaging data. IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, 15(2):537-550. (Earlier version won student paper award from ASA section on statistical learning and data mining in JSM 2014; It was also ranked as one of the top two papers in the student paper award competition in ASA section on statistics in imaging in JSM 2014)
11. Kang J, Hong GH, Li Y (2017) Partition-based ultrahigh dimensional variable screening, Biometrika, 104(4): 785-800.
12. Xie J#, Kang J# (2017) High dimensional tests for functional networks of brain anatomic regions. Journal of Multivariate Analysis, 156:70-88.
13. Cai Q*, Alvarez JA, Kang J†, Yu T (2017) Network marker selection for untargeted LC/MS metabolomics data, Journal of Proteome Research, 16(3):1261-1269
14. Kang J, Bowman FD, Mayberg H, Liu H (2016) A depression network of functionally connected regions discovered via multi-attribute canonical correlation graphs. NeuroImage, 41:431-441.

Walter Dempsey

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Dr. Dempsey’s research focuses on statistical methods for digital and mobile health. My current work involves three complementary research themes: (1) experimental design and data analytic methods to inform multi-stage decision making in health; (2) statistical modeling of complex longitudinal and survival data; and (3) statistical modeling of complex relational structures such as interaction networks. Current directions include (1) integration of sequential multiple assignment randomized trials (SMARTs) and micro-randomized trials (MRTs) and associated causal inference methods; (2) recurrent event analysis in the presence of high-frequency sensor data; and (3) temporal models for, community detection of, and link prediction using complex interaction data.

Sunghee Lee

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My research focuses on issues in data collection with hard-to-reach populations. In particular, she examines 1) nontraditional sampling approaches for minority or stigmatized populations and their statistical properties and 2) measurement error and comparability issues for racial, ethnic and linguistic minorities, which also have implications for cross-cultural research/survey methodology. Most recently, my research has been dedicated to respondent driven sampling that uses existing social networks to recruit participants in both face-to-face and Web data collection settings. I plan to expand my research scope in examining representation issues focusing on the racial/ethnic minority groups in the U.S. in the era of big data.

Zhen Hu

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I am an assistant professor in Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering (IMSE) at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Prior to joining UM-Dearborn, I was a research assistant professor and postdoctoral research scholar at Vanderbilt University. My research areas of interest are uncertainty quantification, Bayesian data analytics, big data analytics, machine learning, optimization under uncertainty, and applications of data analytics and machine learning in aerospace, mechanical and manufacturing systems, and material science. The goal of my research is to develop novel computational methods to design sustainable and reliable engineering systems by leveraging the rich information contained in the high-fidelity computational simulation models, experimental data, and big operational data and historical data.

Mark P Van Oyen

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Efficient, low regret contextual multi-armed bandit approaches for real time learning including Thompson sampling, UCB, and knowledge gradient descent. Integration of optimization and predictive analytics for determining the time to next measurement, which modality to use, and the optimal control of risk factors to manage chronic disease. Integration of soft voting ensemble classifiers and multiple models Kalman filters for disease state prediction, Real-time (online) contextual multi-armed bandits integrated with optimization of hospital bed type dynamic control decisions for reducing 30-day readmission rates in hospitals. Robustness in system optimization when the system model is uncertain with emphasis on quantile regression forests, sample average approximation, robust optimization and distributionally robust optimization. Health care delivery systems models with prediction and control for inpatient and outpatient. Work has been done on Emergency Department redesign for improved patient flow; Capacity management and planning and scheduling for outpatient care, including integrated services networks; admission control with machine learning to ICUs, stepdown, and regular care units Surgical planning and scheduling for access delay control; Planning and scheduling for Clinical Research Units.

9.9.2020 MIDAS Faculty Research Pitch Video.

Machine learning, system modeling, and stochastic control can be used to slow the rate of glaucoma progression based on treatment aggressiveness options selected jointly with the patient.

Veera Baladandayuthapani

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Dr. Veera Baladandayuthapani is currently a Professor in the Department of Biostatistics at University of Michigan (UM), where he is also the Associate Director of the Center for Cancer Biostatistics. He joined UM in Fall 2018 after spending 13 years in the Department of Biostatistics at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, where was a Professor and Institute Faculty Scholar and held adjunct appointments at Rice University, Texas A&M University and UT School of Public Health. His research interests are mainly in high-dimensional data modeling and Bayesian inference. This includes functional data analyses, Bayesian graphical models, Bayesian semi-/non-parametric models and Bayesian machine learning. These methods are motivated by large and complex datasets (a.k.a. Big Data) such as high-throughput genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics and proteomics as well as high-resolution neuro- and cancer- imaging. His work has been published in top statistical/biostatistical/bioinformatics and biomedical/oncology journals. He has also co-authored a book on Bayesian analysis of gene expression data. He currently holds multiple PI-level grants from NIH and NSF to develop innovative and advanced biostatistical and bioinformatics methods for big datasets in oncology. He has also served as the Director of the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Cores for the Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs) in Multiple Myeloma and Lung Cancer and Biostatistics&Bioinformatics platform leader for the Myeloma and Melanoma Moonshot Programs at MD Anderson. He is a fellow of the American Statistical Association and an elected member of the International Statistical Institute. He currently serves as an Associate Editor for Journal of American Statistical Association, Biometrics and Sankhya.


An example of horizontal (across cancers) and vertical (across multiple molecular platforms) data integration. Image from Ha et al (Nature Scientific Reports, 2018; https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-32682-x)

Ho-Joon Lee

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Dr. Lee’s research in data science concerns biological questions in systems biology and network medicine by developing algorithms and models through a combination of statistical/machine learning, information theory, and network theory applied to multi-dimensional large-scale data. His projects have covered genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics from yeast to mouse to human for integrative analysis of regulatory networks on multiple molecular levels, which also incorporates large-scale public databases such as GO for functional annotation, PDB for molecular structures, and PubChem and LINCS for drugs or small compounds. He previously carried out proteomics and metabolomics along with a computational derivation of dynamic protein complexes for IL-3 activation and cell cycle in murine pro-B cells (Lee et al., Cell Reports 2017), for which he developed integrative analytical tools using diverse approaches from machine learning and network theory. His ongoing interests in methodology include machine/deep learning and topological Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy-based network theory, which are applied to (1) multi-level dynamic regulatory networks in immune response, cell cycle, and cancer metabolism and (2) mass spectrometry-based omics data analysis.

Figure 1. Proteomics and metabolomics analysis of IL-3 activation and cell cycle (Lee et al., Cell Reports 2017). (A) Multi-omics abundance profiles of proteins, modules/complexes, intracellular metabolites, and extracellular metabolites over one cell cycle (from left to right columns) in response to IL-3 activation. Red for proteins/modules/intracellular metabolites up-regulation or extracellular metabolites release; Green for proteins/modules/intracellular metabolites down-regulation or extracellular metabolites uptake. (B) Functional module network identified from integrative analysis. Red nodes are proteins and white nodes are functional modules. Expression profile plots are shown for literature-validated functional modules. (C) Overall pathway map of IL-3 activation and cell cycle phenotypes. (D) IL-3 activation and cell cycle as a cancer model along with candidate protein and metabolite biomarkers. (E) Protein co-expression scale-free network. (F) Power-low degree distribution of the network E. (G) Protein entropy distribution by topological Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy calculated for the network E.


Jinseok Kim

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Jinseok Kim, Ph.D., is Research Assistant Professor in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Prof. Kim works on resolving named entity ambiguity in large-scale scholarly data (publication, patent, and funding records) in digital libraries. Especially, his current research is focused on developing methods for disambiguating author and affiliation names at a digital library scale using various supervised machine learning approaches trained on automatically labeled data . Disambiguated data from multiple sources will be integrated to be analyzed for insights into research production, scientific collaboration, funding evaluation, and research policy at a national level.