José Zubizarreta, PhD, who joined the Department of Health Care Policy in July 2017, has been promoted to associate professor (statistics) of health care policy. Zubizarreta is also a faculty affiliate in the Department of Statistics at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.
“We were thrilled to recruit Jose,” says department chair Barbara McNeil, “Not only is he interested in methodological advances in statistics but also in many applications relevant to health policy, including causal inference. Already he has excited us with many new insights and he has become an integral and essential part of our team.”
Zubizarreta’s work centers on the development of statistical methods for causal inference and impact evaluation to advance research in health care and public policy. In his methodological work, Zubizarreta uses tools from modern optimization to develop new matching and weighting methods for causal inference as alternatives to commonly used regression methods. In his health care work, he is interested in assessing the quality of care provided by hospitals and physicians using health outcomes and operations measures.
Zubizarreta’s methodological research has been widely published in journals such as the Journal of the American Statistical Association, the Annals of Applied Statistics, and Biometrika. His research in medicine and healthcare has appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Annals of Surgery, and the Journal of Perinatology, among others. His methodological research has been funded by the Alfred P. Sloan foundation and has been a recipient of the Tom Ten Have Memorial Award for “exceptionally creative or skillful research on causal inference” at the Atlantic Causal Inference Conference. Zubizarreta has written several software packages that make his statistical methods widely available.
Zubizarreta received his PhD in statistics at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 2013, focusing on optimal designs for observational studies using mathematical programming, with applications to health care and policy. He was a Fulbright Scholar and was honored with the J. Parker Memorial Bursk Prize for excellence in research as a doctoral student. Before joining HCP, Zubizarreta was an assistant professor in the Division of Decision, Risk, and Operations and the Department of Statistics at Columbia University.
“I am highly motivated by the possibility of contributing to health policy research by developing better and simpler statistical tools that can help us to learn more from data,” says Zubizarreta. “At HCP we are at a juncture of health policy and statistical research. One feeds the other, and the other repeats, making each other stronger. At this juncture lie great opportunities.”