Theodore Holford, PhD

  • Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Biostatistics and Professor of Statistics and Data Science

Theodore Holford, Ph.D, is Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health (Biostatistics). His scholarly work involves the development and application of statistical methods in public health and the training of individuals developing careers in health research. He developed an approach for analyzing temporal trends in disease rates using the age-period-cohort modeling framework that has be used extensively in the analysis of cancer incidence and mortality trends. He currently has NCI funding for research that extends and applies his population model for lung cancer that can be used for evaluating cancer intervention strategies as part of the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET). Ongoing research using this model focuses on quantifying the effects of cigarette smoking policy on lung cancer mortality, as well as effects of screening and treatment. He has developed and applied methods for using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in environmental epidemiology. This work provides approaches for analyzing the effect of traffic related air pollution on childhood asthma. Finally, Dr. Holford has played a leading role in training both pre-doctoral and post-doctoral students in biostatistics and epidemiology, including assessment of the effects of environmental exposure on disease risk. He is a co-director with Dr. Tongzhang Zheng on a Fogarty training program entitled “Cancer Epidemiology and Biostatistics Training in China” which includes the conduct of workshops on methods for cancer epidemiology research in China, as well as the mentoring of trainees on their individual research projects.

Research interests
Asthma; China; Lung Neoplasms; Parasitology; Public Health; Global Health; Statistics; Geographic Information Systems
Research summary

Professor Holford's current research extends his work with age-period-cohort models for population disease trends to analyses that quantify the impact of exposure to known risk factors on those trends. His work measuring the impact of cigarette smoking on lung cancer mortality is an example of this approach and it is part of the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET). These models are useful in planning disease control strategies. Another focus of his research is the development of methods for studying the impact of environmental exposures on disease risk using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). These applications include the effect of exposure to traffic on asthma symptoms, and the prediction of areas that have habitats that are compatible with vectors for specific microbial diseases.

Specialized Terms: Development and application of statistical methods in health research; Methodology for the analysis of spatial and temporal trends in disease

  • PhD, Yale University, 1973
  • BA, Andrews University, 1969
  • Rabinowitz, P.M., Slizovskiy, I.B., Lamers, V., Trufan, S.J., Holford, T.R., Dziura, J.D., Peduzzi, P.N., Kane, M.J., Reif, J.S., Weiss, T.R., Stowe, M.H. Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status: Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania. 2015 Jan;123(1):21-6. Epub 2014 Sep10. PMCID:PMC4286272
  • Holford, T.R., Meza, R., Warner, K.E., Meernik, C., Jeon, J., Moolgavkar, S.H., Levy, D.T. Tobacco control and the reduction in smoking-related premature deaths in the United States, 1964-2012. Journal of the American Medical Association. 311: 164-171, 2014. PMCID: PMC4056770
  • Holford, T.R., Levy, D.T., McKay, L.A., Clarke, L., Racine, B., Meza, R., Jeon, J., Feuer, E.J. Patterns of Birth Cohort–Specific Smoking Histories, 1965–2009. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 46: e31-e37, 2014. PMCID: PMC3951759.
  • Holford, T.R., Levy, D.T. Comparing the adequacy of carcinogenesis models in estimating U.S. population rates for lung cancer mortality. Risk Analysis 32: S179-S189, 2012. PMCID: PMC3478769
  • Holford, T.R., Ebisu, K., McKay, L., Oh, C., Zhang, T. Yale Lung Cancer Model. Risk Analysis 32: S151-S165, 2012. PMCID: PMC3662537
  • Holford, T.R., Clark, L. Development of the counterfactual smoking histories used to assess the effects of tobacco control. Risk Analysis 32: S39-S50, 2012. PMCID: PMC3490210
  • Moolgavkar, S.H., Holford, T.R., Levy, D.T., Kong, C.Y., Foy, M., Clarke, L., Jeon, J., Hazelton, W., Meza, R., Schultz, F., McCarthy, W., Boer, R., Gorlova, O., Gazelle, G.S., Kimmel, M., McMahon, P.M., de Koning, H.J., Feuer, E.J. Impact of reduced tobacco smoking on lung cancer mortality in the United States during 1975-2000. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2012 Apr 4;104(7):541-8. PMCID: PMC3317881.
  • Skene, K.J., Gent, J.F., McKay, L.A., Belanger, K., Leaderer, B.P., Holford, T.R. Modeling effects of traffic and landscape characteristics on ambient nitrogen dioxide levels in Connecticut. Atmospheric Environment (1994). 44: 5156-5164, 2010. PMCID:PMC2976574
  • Ebisu, K., Holford, T.R., Belanger, K.D., Leaderer, B.P., Bell, M.L. Urban land-use and respiratory symptoms in infants. Environmental Research 111: 677-684, 2011. PMCID: PMC3114197
  • Holford, T.R., Ebisu, K., McKay, L.A., Gent, J.F., Triche, E.W., Bracken, M.B., Leaderer, B.P. Integrated Exposure Modeling: A Model Using GIS and GLM. Statistics in Medicine 29: 166-129, 2010. PMCID: PMC3182125
Current projects
  • Modeling Interventions for Lung Cancer Mortality (CISNET)
  • Population Models for the Effect of Cigarette Smoking on Health
  • Asthma Severity in Children and Fine Particle Composition
  • Effect of Exposure to Traffic Related Pollution on Health
  • Eleanor Roosevelt International Cancer Fellowship from the UICC (International Union against Cancer)
  • Wakeman Award for Research in the Neurosciences