O’Malley Receives Distinguished Award for Scientific Excellence

James O’Malley, MS, PhD, a professor of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and of biomedical data science at the Geisel School of Medicine and director of the Program in Quantitative Biomedical Sciences, has received the 2019 ISPOR (International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research) Award for Excellence in Health Economics and Outcomes Research Methodology.

James O’Malley, MS, PhD (Photo by Rob Strong)

With more than 20,000 individual and chapter members from over 110 countries, ISPOR is dedicated to improving healthcare decision making globally. It’s members include: researchers and academicians, assessors and regulators, payers and policy makers, the life sciences industry, healthcare providers, and patient engagement organizations. The society established the award in 1997 to recognize outstanding research in the field of health economics and outcomes research.

“I was excited to receive the news that I had been selected as this year’s recipient,” says O’Malley, who will receive the award at the society’s upcoming annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. “Given today’s increasingly collaborative and interdisciplinary research arena, it is very meaningful. And I think it depicts the profession of statistics in a very positive light.”

Each year, the award is given to an exceptional paper that moves the field of outcomes research forward and is expected to have significant impact with anticipated wide acceptance and application by others.

O’Malley’s paper, published online in Statistics in Medicine in November 2018 (and supported by grant NIH/NHLBI R01 HL109263-04), investigated the relationship between individuals’ proximity to fast-food establishments and their Body Mass Index (BMI). It made an important advance in the statistical methodology for hierarchical models by allowing the latent or random effects of a neighborhood to have a bivariate impact on an individual’s BMI through both residential and workplace exposure.

“To allow for the most flexible and rigorous analysis possible, it was important to account for both of those individual dependencies and also the possibility of correlation between the two, in the sense that an area that’s a risk factor from a residential perspective could also be a risk factor, or not, from a workplace perspective,” explains O’Malley.

“It was truly a team effort that led to the award being given—involving colleagues here at Dartmouth and also from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, who are co-authors on the paper,” he says.

As a biostatistician, O’Malley’s research interests have centered on multivariate-hierarchical modeling, social network analysis, causal inference, and the design and analysis of medical device clinical trials. He has developed novel statistical methods, often involving new uses of Bayesian statistics, to solve important methodological and applied problems in health policy and health services research, including the evaluation of treatments, healthcare utilization, and quality of care in multiple areas of medicine.

O’Malley has served as chair of the Health Policy Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association (ASA). He is an associate editor for Statistics in Medicine and for Observational Studies and was previously an associate editor at Health Services and Outcomes Research Methodology. In 2011, O’Malley received the Mid-Career Excellence Award from the Health Policy Section of the ASA and in 2012 was elected to be a fellow of the ASA.

O’Malley received his PhD in statistics from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand in 1999, and later that year was awarded the L.J. Cote Award for Excellence in Applied Statistics from Purdue University.